Charles Cowper built "Wivenhoe" on the 600 acres granted to his father Rev William Cowper in 1812. It was named after his wife's (Eliza Sutton) home in England. The house was completed in 1838 and its design has been attributed to colonial architect John Verge.

It has been added to and extended over the years and has stables, an enclosed courtyard, coach house and servants quarters. By 1873 "Wivenhoe" had been increased in area to approx. 950 acres and had an extensive vineyard and beautifully landscaped grounds. The property was purchased at this time by H.A. Thomas and remained in the family until the death of his widow in 1903 when it passed to Captain Oswald Watt. In 1910 it was sold by Captain Oswald Watt to the Sisters of the Good Samaritan for 7000 pounds and became Mater Dei Orphanage.

Open the first Sunday of every month (February to November, excluding April). The house is available for guided tours, morning and afternoon teas and lunches.