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rose cottage

Sketch of Rose Cottage 1973 by Leon Pericles

WHEN Lawrence was staying in Mollie Skinner’s guesthouse at Darlington in Western Australia in 1922 he would wander down through the bush and meadows to Rose Cottage to chat with Mollie Skinner’s mother, Jessie, a member of one of Perth's oldest families.
Local historian LYN MYLES has researched the history of Rose Cottage and its sister house, Brook Cottage, and corrects the misconceptions surrounding the two humble abodes

The house D.H. Lawrence visited was Rose Cottage to see Mollie’s Mother Jessie Skinner who was well connected with Perth Society -- her maiden name being Leake, one of the very early families to arrive in the Swan Colony. Since Mollie's son Jack disliked Lawrence, and from Mollie’s autobiography, “The Fifth  Sparrow” (p114), possibly didn’t ever properly meet him, I doubt Lawrence ever set foot in Jack’s Brook Cottage although both cottages were very close together on the same alignment which has been part of the confusion between the cottages.


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The existing cottage still standing in 2017 is Brook Cottage built c1914 by a carpenter Robert Dinning. After he returned from WW1 he sold the cottage to a lady who owned it briefly, then the 3 acre property (part of Lot 24 of the Darlington subdivision 1241) was sold to Jack Skinner. In Mollies autobiography she mentions that the family were in Kalamunda where Jack had a Returned Soldier’s Settlement Scheme property and when he bought the property in Darlington he moved his mother’s cottage which was next to his farm in Kalamunda and placed it next door to his Brook cottage. His mother’s house was called Rose Cottage and looked identical to Brook being of a similar era. The naming of Rose Cottage may have nothing to do with flowers as Jessie’s middle name was “Rose”.

This would have been 1921 around the same time Mollie moved to Leithdale from her convalescent home called “Shirley” in Kalamunda, due to the owner wanting to sell the property. By Feb 1922 there is a newspaper article that has a smoke evening at Kalamunda in honour of Jack and mentions it’s because he’s moved to Darlington.

In May 1922 when the Lawrences visited Darlington and stayed at Mollie Skinners recently acquired “Leithdale House”, being run as a Boarding House by her and business partner Nellie Beakbane, Brook Cottage would have been occupied by Jack Skinner, while next door, Rose Cottage would have been his mother Jessie’s house. Going down Brook Rd the first house was Rose and then the next house was Brook according to long-time Darlington residents from the 1950’s who visited Mollie in Brook Rd.

Within 12 months of the Lawrence’s visit to Darlington Jessie Skinner died at Rose Cottage whereupon Mollie moved into her mother’s cottage to sort out the family affairs. From here Mollie went down to Karridale to open a Government Hospital to service the Group Settlement Scheme designed to open up the South West of the State for farming. Jack Skinner had gone to Southern Cross where in July 1925 he died from Pneumonia. Jack left his Darlington property to his unmarried sister Muriel or Mittie as she was called by the family. After Jack’s death Mittie had gone to New South Wales where she died in October 1927. In her will she left the Darlington property to her sister Mary Louisa Skinner (Mollie). Mollie then owned the Darlington 3 acres and the two cottages as well as being part owner of Leithdale House.


brook cottage
Brook Cottage in 1994 from Gail Gregson


Brook Cottage c1974 - Sylvia Ling






Below is the description of the property in Mittie’s will.




It is unknown who occupied the cottages on the property after Mollie acquired them but from 1936 until the property was later subdivided into three smaller lots then sold, Mollie’s sister Dora (Dolly) Law a widower from 1930 was living in Rose Cottage (E.R. gives this info) and bought the 3 acre property from Mollie. A regular visitor to Mollie who is still living and in her 80’s said Mollie lived in the furthest house  (Brook Cottage) from the 1940’s and into the early 1950’s.






Brook & Rose Cottage Mollie Skinner 21.10.1952 West Australian




The advert above shows the Law family tried to sell the property intact in 1952 but when that failed they subdivided the property into 3 blocks, two with a house and land and one block vacant.


Darlington Rates 1953-54 Dollie’s son Frank Law  is paying the Rates and there are 3 lots so it has been subdivided.




1955-56 Darlington Rates showing Dollie / Frank Law sold all three properties


rates 1


By 1956 the Darlington Rates show all three properties sold and the two cottages separated with Brook Cottage on lot 2 sold to Ernest Henry Rawson, Rose Cottage on Lot 3 sold to John Leonard Day and Lot 1 just vacant land sold to Ronald Clifford Viney.

I think where misleading information has been perpetuated was by Mr Harry Rawson who bought the Brook Cottage property around the time Mollie died and made the leap that Mollie was living in her mother’s house when in fact it was Jack’s house. Mollie’s sister Dollie’s family lived in their mother’s house until the property was subdivided and sold.
The Rose cottage property after it was sold to John and Hollie Day was rented and occupied by numerous tenants particularly students (amazingly a cousin of mine lived in it when she was doing her art course in the mid 1970’s and had a sketch by Leon Pericles of the cottage). There was a fire according to one of the neighbours in Rose cottage and the occasional drug bust until the house was so derelict that it wasn’t rentable, even to students. It was then issued with a work order by the shire and rather than fix the derelict building the owner Roger Day organised contractors to demolish the building. Nothing was retained by the Day family who still owned the property and only sold it about 8 years ago.

The cottage still standing today and also somewhat derelict is Jack and Mollie’s Brook Cottage so its claim to fame is where Mollie wrote her Biography before she died. This is not the house that Lawrence visited to see Jessie Skinner, this no longer exists.
- Lyn Myles Sept 2017 (Archivist Darlington History Group)



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