As you walk around Mosman, you will notice many plaques, some commemorating events and well known people, some on buildings and some with unfamiliar names. The Society has been collecting information about many of these plaques, and in the first of several occasional articles in the newsletter, committee member Perry McIntyre shares the story of the Parmentier Bench. The plaque on the bench has the inscription:
In loving memory of Jane Parmentier “Memee” A place of great personal joy 1929-2015
Ursula Jane Parmentier née Rhodes, always known as Jane, died aged 85 on 19 February 2015 at her home in Mosman. She had married Paul August Parmentier and they had six children. She was the cherished grandmother, known as “Memee”, to her 19 grandchildren at the time of her death.
Paul’s father, George Victor Parmentier, emigrated from his birthplace of Mauscron in Belgium in 1913 as one of several families from France and Belgium who were merchants and wool buyers and settled in Mosman from early in the 1900s. George Victor Parmentier married Adele Boggio in Sydney in 1919 and they had three children: Yvonne Adele born in 1919, Gervais Charley, known as George born in 1920 and Paul August born 1928. These families were very involved in the wool trade and strongly retained their French heritage.
When the French wool merchant Charles Boggio returned to France in 1924, his house “Pozieres” at 182 Raglan Street passed to his daughter Adele and her woolbroker husband George Parmentier. In 1938 the Parmentiers commissioned the architect Adrian Ashton to design a new house in the modern “ocean liner” style. The new two storey house, named “Beau Sejour”, featured a large foyer and circular stairwell decorated with statues and other artworks, with a grand semi-circular marble staircase leading to the upper level. The adjacent lounge, dining, smoking and sun rooms were surrounded outside by flagstone paths and a terrace with built-in flower boxes. A separate service area on the ground floor included the kitchen, laundry, delivery entrance, storage rooms and a small, self-contained flat for a maid. The basement below the maid’s quarters contained a tool room, a fuel stove for heating, and a cellar with a meat safe. The garage and rear entrance faced Shadforth Street at the back of the property.
Family members recall mature gardens, lawns where family parties were held, and a tennis court. Descendants of the Parmentiers lived in “Beau Sejour” until the early 1960s. The house was demolished in the late 1960s and replaced by a block of flats, also named “Beau Sejour”.
The memorial bench on Balmoral commemorates Jane Parmentier. Her daughter, Jacqueline, is pictured here enjoying the sunshine and memories with a friend. More about the Parmentier family can be seen on the Mosman Local Studies video “Migrants to Mosman” on the YouTube channel. There are more details about the Parmentier house on the Society’s Lost Mosman website.