Lancer Barracks, Parramatta
Lancer Barracks is a historic military facility and grounds in Parramatta, being the longest continuously operated military facility in Australia. It is located on Smith Street in the Parramatta CBD, opposite the Railway Station and has been home to the 1st/15th Royal New South Wales Lancers, the armoured cavalry unit, since 1885.
Construction of Lancer Barracks commenced in 1818 and was completed in 1820, in order to replace earlier buildings that were in a state of disrepair. It was home to a number of different British infantry regiments while the colony expanded. When British troops were withdrawn in the 1850s, it was used by the police and government, until it became home to the Lancers in 1891. The barracks became a hub of the regiment and the city, being the base from which the Lancers trained to travel first to England, and then to fight in the Boer War. Slowly, the barracks were modernised and preserved as a distinctive part of the area’s colonial and military heritage.
In 1958 interest in the regiment’s history resulted in the allocation of a room in the two storey building for the purposes of a museum. This soon outgrew the space available and in 1963 an appeal was launched for new accommodation for the museum. This was to be provided by moving a 19th century house from a site further west along Macquarie Street which its owners, the AMP Society, wished to redevelop. (Daily Telegraph 7 August 1963).
The re-location of this building on the barracks site was thought to be particularly appropriate, as it had once accommodated military officers stationed in the town and so had connections with the military history of Parramatta. This arrangement provided a means not only of establishing a museum within the barracks but also of saving an historic building from destruction.
The external fabric of the building was dismantled and numbered and was reassembled on the Lancer Barracks site, against the northern boundary and facing the original two storey barracks.
The Museum, named Linden House, was opened in 1966 although only the ground floor of the interior was completed at this stage. The upper floor was finished as funds became available. In 1981 the Museum was dedicated as a Regimental War Memorial. In 1985, the centenary of the raising of the Sydney Light Horse, a memorial was unveiled in the grounds of the barracks to those members of the regiment who had died in World War II. (Regimental History).
Linden House is open for guided tours every Sunday, along with nine other heritage sites in Parramatta.
Trevor Patrick Author “In Search of the Pennant Hills” the award-winning book of the three settlements of the Hills District of northern Sydney.