Christ College was opened on 1 October 1846 with the hope that it would develop along the lines of an Oxbridge college and provide the basis for university education in Tasmania. It was also intended to prepare men for the priesthood. The Hutchins School and Launceston Grammar were founded at the same time to act as feeder schools to the college.
The college's first ten years (1846-1856) were at Bishopsbourne, and there is still a sign there pointing to "The College". However, it never really developed as its founders hoped, and a depression in the colony, the remote site and financial problems led to its closure in 1856. The cedar mantelpiece in the computer room is the only reminder of the now demolished Bishopsbourne building.
The college re-opened in Hobart in 1879 in Macquarie Street, moving to the Hobart High School premises on the Domain on a seven year lease in 1885. There was an effort during the Macquarie Street/High School period to provide some form of higher education, but for most of the time the college was just another Hobart school, competing for students against schools like Hutchins and the Friends' School.
It did, however, offer some evening classes, which may have been for more advanced students. The lease was not renewed in 1892 because of the foundation of the University of Tasmania. The University moved into the High School buildings and the college closed. There had been a move to restructure Christ College as the new university, but this was defeated by the combined Presbyterian and Roman Catholic interests who were sensitive to what they perceived as an undue Anglican influence on education.
The college reopened in 1911 as the matriculation section of the Hutchins School in Macquarie Street. The accumulated college assets were used to build a special Christ College wing for the matriculation section, and to acquire the Holy Trinity Rectory in Park Street as a hostel for theological and other students. The college also had a very close association with St Wilfrid's College, the theological training college founded at 'Richmond Hill', Cressy, in 1904. The property was bequeathed to the Diocese by James Denton Toosey, one of the Trustees appointed after the college's closure at Bishopsbourne in 1856, with the request that it be used if possible for the revival of Christ College.
By the 1920's, St Wilfrid's College had run into difficulties, and at the same time Launceston Grammar protested that Hutchins, because of its close connection with the college, was receiving an unfair amount of the Christ College assets. Representations were made to Parliament, and the Christ College Act was passed in 1926, holding that the matriculation sections of Hutchins and Launceston Grammar were carrying out the secular academic intentions of the college's founders, and granting them each one third of the college's assets.
The remaining third, with the proceeds from the sale of the 'Richmond Hill' estate, was to be devoted to upgrading the Holy Trinity rectory site to "....provide for the training of young men in theological learning and Christian doctrine for admission to Holy Orders in connection with the Church of England in Tasmania and, as far as its means will allow, to provide for a college or hostel for students attending the University of Tasmania." The Warden of St Wilfrid's College, William Barrett, was appointed first Warden of the new college, and he and his five theological students and twelve university students moved into enlarged premises on the Park Street site.
In 1933 the College was formally affiliated with the university as it's first residential college. When the university moved to the Sandy Bay campus in the sixties, the college followed. The building was finally completed in 1971, when it also became the first Tasmanian college to take both men and women.
In December 1991, Christ College began a new chapter in it's long and significant story. The Bishop, the Board of Management and the Christ College Trust entered an agreement whereby ownership and management of the college passed to the University of Tasmania. The agreement provides for the continuation of the college in the full integrity of its Anglican traditions and heritage. In 1996 the college celebrated its sesquicentenary. The college is currently located on the University's grounds in Sandy Bay.
Side by side at Mount Nassau are two attractive houses of about 1830 or 1840 vintage. The main house is a two storey brick dwelling with a rather simple, classic Georgian design. Inside it has a characteristically small spiral staircase that is the bane of removalists of any era.
The 2nd dwelling appears even older than the main house. The original part of this structure is brick but had had stone additions over the years. Both houses have a panoramic view of the Derwent River, being perched atop a cutting through which the Lyell Highway passes on its way to New Norfolk.
The original grant was given to Ebenezer Geiss in the 1820’s. The property then extended through to the riverbank and was next door to Governor Arthur’s Derwent Valley Farm. Mount Nassau was bought by the Rathbone family in about 1913 and the family has continued to own the property ever since. Prior to coming to Tasmania, Frank Rathbone ran an ostrich farm in Port Augusta, SA.
Mount Nassau was particularly well endowed with a fine quality limestone. The Rathbones went on to quarry the limestone for many years and there is evidence of the old lime kilns still around and nearby the property. After the 2nd World war, the need for lime diminished although new markets for agricultural lime opened up afterwards.
Inspite of the property being so close to Hobart, the property is still operating as an agricultural farm and is the home of the Derwent Estate Winery.
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“From Black Snake to Bronte” – Audrey Holiday & John Trigg
The two conjoined houses that stand next to St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Macquarie Street, Hobart were constructed by Richard Roberts in 1847. Roberts placed an advertisement in the Feb 1847 edition of the “Colonial Times” and he described the houses as “town residences for a first rate family”. Five and a half years later, the houses were bought by the well known colonial lawyer and landholder, Gamaliel Butler.
More than a century later, the last of the parish priests was Monsignor John Hugh Cullen. He had been the curate of St Joseph’s since 1910, the year that he arrived from Ireland, parish priest from 1934 before he retired in 1956. In effect he had administered the St Joseph’s parish for 46 years and this service was later honoured when the Church acquired the building in 1978. The right hand of the two houses served as a parish centre for a number of years and was named Cullen House during this time.
The building, with its two houses now operates as business space with a health services business and a psychologist operating from the building. The building still retains a real grandeur and elegance and forms an important part of the Macquarie Street streetscape.
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“Mansions, Cottages & All Saints” – Audrey Holiday & Walter Eastman
This delightfully situated cottage overlooks the Government gardens and was no doubt placed in that location to impress those who it accommodated. It had been built in 1854 to accommodate the Comptroller General (The Head of the Convict Department) when he visited. It was also used to house important visitors to the settlement. These visitors had previously stayed at the settlement Commandant’s own house.
Although it was lived in by several officers for short periods, it appears that it was never really used as a permanent residence. From its earliest days it was surrounded by elms, oaks, ash trees, roses and the beautiful gardens where the officers wives and children used to walk away from the prying eyes of the convicts.
Following the closure of the penal settlement, the cottage was sold but unfortunately it was burnt down in the fires of 1895 which devastated much of the settlement.
The cottage remained in ruins and the ruins have now been preserved and set up with interpretive signs and walkways to allow the visitor to walk through the preserved ruins and get a feel for what the cottage would have been like in its heyday.