Fine dining and theatre restaurant MacMahon's Manor among past lives of Hurstville mansion

MacMahon's Manor, a fine dining and theatre restaurant, was one of many past lives of the old Tudor mansion Kenilworth at Hurstville.

The building, at 14 MacMahon Street, was the home and surgery of Doctor John Saxon Crakanthorp from 1929 until 1962 when it became a clubhouse for St George Rugby until 1978.

Other restaurants and bars also operated from the old building before it became the Hurstville Museum and Gallery in 2004. It is maintained by Georges River Council.

In 1986, the Leader reported on celebrations to mark the second anniversary of the opening of MacMahon's Manor.

The report said the venue was "the scene for not only happy luncheons, dinners and parties in the theatre restaurant, but children's pantomimes in the school holidays, and lovely weddings".

"Now, John and Annette Ibbitson are busy arranging a special birthday party night when there'll be champagne flowing, balloons, and a huge birthday cake, a replica of the manor itself.

"The 70,000th person is due to pass through their doors and the lucky one will win three dinners for two."

History of Kenilworth

From the Hurstville Museum and Gallery website:

The building at 14 MacMahon Street, Hurstville, which currently houses Hurstville Museum & Gallery, celebrated its 90th birthday last year.

The house was built in 1929 by Doctor John Saxon Crakanthorp to be his practice and family home. He resided there with his wife Valerie, two daughters and his dog, Thrifty.

The house was named 'Kenilworth' by Valerie in reference to her travels to England as a young girl, and constructed in a Tudor style reminiscent of those she saw and loved.

Downstairs were the living and dining areas, the kitchen and Dr Crakanthorp's surgery and waiting room. Upstairs were the bedrooms, bathrooms and maids quarters. Dr Crakanthorp lived and worked in the house for over 30 years

In 1962, 14 MacMahon Street became the new club house and recreational centre for the St George Rugby Club. Dr Crakanthorp was a sportsman himself and was actively involved with the Club as a Vice President on its committee. After a few years of refurbishment and adding an extension to the rear of the building, the club house was ready for the season in 1966.

St George Rugby players, families and friends, the opposing teams and referees would meet after Saturday home games at the clubhouse for speeches, sing-a-longs and a good time.

In 1983, 14 MacMahon Street transformed into MacMahon's Manor - a fine dining and theatre restaurant - after being sold by the St George Rugby Union Club to John and Annette Ibbitson. MacMahon's Manor became a very popular venue playing host to theatre productions, numerous weddings and various special events.

The theatre restaurant put on a new show every three months, with at least a dozen changes of costumes for an audience of approximately 150 people, 6 nights a week. The shows became so popular they were booked out 3 months in advance, and every show had a corresponding themed menu and signature cocktail.

Prior to becoming Hurstville Museum & Gallery in 2004, 14 MacMahon Street was home to a number of restaurants after MacMahon's Manor, including MacMahon Street Galleries & Restaurant and Fanari Restaurant & Bar, just to name a few.

In 2003, Hurstville City Council was looking for a new home for the St George Regional Museum, previously called The Centennial Bakery Museum. The museum, which included a large bakery item collection and historical artefacts from the Hurstville Historical Society, was outgrowing the Centennial Bakery building on the corner of Forest Road and Bridge Street. 14 MacMahon Street became available after the Fanari Restaurant & Bar had closed and it seemed to be the perfect place for the museum. The museum was officially opened on Friday 6 February 2004 and is now known as Hurstville Museum & Gallery.