The first part of this house was built in 1878-79 for Thomas Barnfield who found success in mining ventures in New South Wales. However its historical significance comes from its association with Sir John Langdon Bonython, one-time proprietor of the Advertiser newspaper and a noted public figure.
Barnfield had a single-storey bay-windowed villa built in 1878-79. He lived there for 10 years then sold it to John Langdon Bonython in 1889. The Bonythons owned several large properties, including Carminow and Carclew, but their longest association was with this house, which they named Carhayes. The family retained it over four generations and more than 100 years.
Sir John and his family lived in Carhayes until 1908. They then moved to Carclew on Montefiore Hill in North Adelaide. Carhayes was transferred to the eldest son, John Lavington, in 1909, and he lived there with his second wife until 1928. They moved to St Corantyn, where Lady Bonython lived until 1962 (Sir Lavington died in 1960).
Carhayes was twice extended during the early years of the Bonythons’ occupancy, in 1891-92 and 1896-97. A large drawing room and dining room to the east, and a two-storey section at the rear containing kitchen facilities and servants’ accommodation, were added. The brick and stone extensions were in sympathy with the original bluestone section, and the whole house presents as a large villa, one of several substantial 19th-century residences in the area.
The exterior of the house features bluestone with stucco quoins, shuttered windows and door surrounds, paired brackets below the guttering and elaborate brick chimneys.