Sunday, 19 October 2014

Caldew Mansion

Unlike so many fine old houses in Hobart, Caldew still has breathing space. It sits at the top of a rise in Cavell Street and between it and the street, there is room enough for the drive to wander a little as it approaches the house, and also room for an enormous willow and a number of fruit trees on the way. Entry from the street is through the original Huon pine fence.

The house has been there for more than 130 years, but has been owned by only two families. In each case, the first man to own Caldew was successful in his profession but each had a more memorable father. Songs and footwear were the respective sources of the fathers’ renown!

The first owner was the man who had it built, in 1861. He was John Woodcock Graves, a successful solicitor, whose celebrated father of the same name wrote one of the best-known songs of the time. This complex, unstable man later lived for some years at Caldew with his son. Graves Senior had arrived as a migrant with wife and six children, in 1834. Ten years earlier, he had guaranteed himself a permanent place in the world of popular ballads by writing “D’Ye Ken John Peel,” a tribute to his close hunting friend of that name.

Graves was a difficult man and about 1842 his wife Abigail and the children, including the eldest who would later build Caldew, left him. Some time after this he was thrown into debtors’ prison for owing money and, from there, when he was thought to be insane was taken to the asylum at New Norfolk. He escaped and, a few years later went off to New Zealand for a while, to study the growing of flax. Having this eccentric father did not stand in the way of his two sons, John and Joseph, becoming wealthy men. John’s successful career as a solicitor enabled him to build Caldew and he conducted his practice from a room directly opposite the front door. Today, this rather small room serves as a study. The house’s second owner was James A. Cuthbertson who bought the property from solicitor John’s daughter near the turn of the century. James’ father was James Senior, who set up the first bootmaking business in the colony, possibly the first in Australia. From this establishment came the famous Blundstone boot.

Caldew’s second storey was added sometime after 1861 and sits like a saddle in the middle of the house. It contains one medium-sized room and three small ones. One of the latter has always been known as “Annie’s room.” A maid’s, perhaps? Running from the medium sized room to the ground floor is one of four servants’ bells, all still in working order. At the back of the house is a new, mainly glass sun-room which exploits its northern aspect to catch the winter sun and is additionally supplied with under-floor heating. This leads through original french-windows to the main bedroom. All of the ground-floor rooms are connected to the hall which changes direction twice through arches on its way through. The double room at the front of the house, joined by sliding doors, is magnificently Victorian, with a domed ceiling and fireplaces the epitome of craftsmanship.

Somewhere on the wall behind the tall overmantel of the fireplace, on the side nearest to the original stables (and now covered by wallpaper), is a painting of a hunting scene by the first John Woodcock Graves. It is a memory of a strange, famous but rather sad man.

Pencil Drawing, Main Information & Text Sources -
“Mansions, Cottages and All Saints” – Book by Audrey Holiday & Walter Eastman

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Davey Street Methodist Church

On the 27th August 1834, the Methodist Sunday School Union decided they needed to construct yet another Sunday School in the Hobart area and that it should be located in either Macquarie Street or Davey Street. At this point, the Union had at least half a dozen Sunday Schools in place already and these schools tried to make up for the perceived lack of a formal state system of education. It was finally decided that a building in Davey Street, next door to the current church, would be ideal and the the new school was subsequently set up.

It was so successful that a chapel cum schoolroom had to be constructed at the back of the block where the church now stands. By the 1860's, the school was bursting at the seams. As a result, proposals were made for the building of a new sandstone church on the site. The idea was enthusiastically supported and the foundation stone was laid on the 21st July 1870. The building was completed the following year following a design by Melbourne architects, Crouch & Wilson. The dedication service took place on the 11th August.

The tender had been for 1440 pounds for a building in the Gothic style of architecture, built to accommodate up to 350 worshippers and constructed in brown sandstone from the Summerleas quarry and white stone from Bridgewater. An interesting feature of the new church was the installation of benches instead of traditional pews. Reports in The Mercury from the times stated that the "material and workmanship are of the best and present quite an ornamental appearance"

The Davey Street Methodist Church thrived for nearly a century but eventually ended its days under that title  because of declining attendances within its congregation in the late 1960's & 70's. In 1973, the Lutheran Church purchased the building for $55,000 and renamed it St Peter's and operated their services at the site.

The fabric of the church has changed little since the opening of the church. The majority of the windows are undecorated, and as remarked by the attending press at the official opening, the light afforded by the windows was most agreeable. At the front of the church, high above the heads of those entering the church, are tall stained glass windows of great beauty decorated with floral designs in red, green, blue & yellow and illustrated with appropriate texts.

The Lutheran Church has now moved their services to Eastside Lutheran College in Lindisfarne and the church appears to now stand silent although it is still in a fantastic condition. I'm not sure whether it is still being used by any organisations. Anyone who can help with any further information regarding the current uses of the church building, please feel free to leave information in the comments. Another one of the many beautifully constructed colonial churches in Tasmania.

Main Information & Text Sources -
“Mansions, Cottages and All Saints” – Book by Audrey Holiday & Walter Eastman

Sunday, 12 October 2014

No 2 Arthur St, North Hobart

No 2 Arthur St is a simple, late Georgian style cottage with no complications or surprises in its design. The cottage is made from solid sandstone, reportedly quarried at Risdon and was supposedly constructed for their sister (who had just been married) by the two sons of the man who was responsible for the construction of Gatesheath next door. In its original form, it would probably have been indistinguishable from dozens of other similar cottages dotted all over the ever expanding Hobart Town area.

According to descriptions of the inside of the building, there are the usual cast iron fireplaces with decorative timber surrounds, attractive ceiling roses and simple cornices. A broad entry hall is interrupted by a single arch and steep stairs to the two upstairs rooms have a simple balustrading. The two upstairs rooms receive their natural light from dormer windows that face towards the back of the property. There is nothing on the front of the house to suggest the existence of the rooms.

Additions have obviously been made to the cottage to make it a thoroughly modern dwelling. A place to be lived in with a large degree of comfort. A lovely little cottage that is still occupied as a private residence.

Main Information & Text Sources -
“Mansions, Cottages and All Saints” – Book by Audrey Holiday & Walter Eastman

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Richmond Arms Hotel

In September 1827 the Hobart Town Gazette reported that James Kestall Buscombe had obtained ‘an allotment of ground for the purpose of building a commodious inn, in the township of Richmond, which will supply the want of convenience which travelers there and the neighborhood now so much experience.’  By December 1827, it was reported that ‘Buscombe, the innkeeper, is in great forwardness with the materials for his inn, which when once commenced will soon be fit for the accommodation of travelers, &c.’  The pub was called the Lennox Arms (presumably named after Charles Lennox, the Duke of Richmond in the English peerage).

Richmond was the centre of a fertile agricultural area and became a ‘rapidly flourishing township’ from the late 1820s.  The Richmond Bridge was the lowest crossing point on the Coal River and part of the main route from Hobart to the south-east and the east coast.  A proportion of traffic travelling between Hobart and Launceston also passed through Richmond, continuing to Jericho via the Coal River Valley.

In May 1830, Buscombe advertised in the Hobart Town Courier ‘to return his thanks to his friends and the public for the very liberal encouragement he has received since he commenced business’ and announced that his ‘stock of wines, &c. is of greater extent than that of any Inn out of Hobart town, and warranted to be of equal quality, if not superior, to the best selected in the island.’  Buscombe’s pub also incorporated a store that sold groceries, clothing and household goods.  In April 1832, Robert Cooling started operating a ‘cheap and safe conveyance’ from Kangaroo Point (today’s Bellerive) to Richmond and Sorell.  The coach stopped at the Lennox Arms to change horses.

By the late 1830s, Buscombe’s industry had earned him an ‘independent fortune’.  He owned various properties and businesses in Richmond and had built himself ‘Prospect’ (today’s 1384 Richmond Road) a fine two-storey mansion on the outskirts of town.  Buscombe decided to retire from the management of the pub in 1840 and concentrate on his store.

The Lennox Arms was subsequently leased to a series of licensees before being offered for sale in April 1864 when it was described as ‘the oldest-established inn in the district, now let to Mr Thomas Featherstone, with two large stone stables, malt-house, brewery, detached kitchen, wash-house, and every convenience for carrying on an extensive business; together with a large and well-stocked garden.’  It wasn’t sold and the Buscombe family continued to lease the property until it was purchased by the Cascade Brewery for £1,000 in June 1879.

The Lennox Arms was completely destroyed by fire early on the morning of Friday 27 July 1888.  The Mercury lamented the loss of the two-storey brick hotel which had been ‘one of the finest buildings in the township’. The Cascade Brewery arranged for John Rait, architect, to draw up plans for the erection of a new hotel and tenders were invited in November 1888.  The new hotel had 17 rooms and was constructed from stone with a two-storey verandah around the front.  The Launceston Examiner described the new building as ‘a fine structure which is an ornament to the township.’ The present building was erected in 1888 but is located on the site of the first pub to be licensed in Richmond.

The Cascade Brewery leased the hotel to a series of publicans including Alfred Burrell, Albert Jack, Samuel Kerslake and Albert Thornton.  The hotel was a focus for community activity and the local football club, cricket club and rifle club all had their meetings there.  When the Governor (Sir Ernest Clark) visited Richmond in September 1933 he had a luncheon at the Commercial Hotel and in June 1946 it was the venue for a welcome home dinner for returned serviceman.

Following the closure of the Bridge Hotel (today’s 50 Bridge Street, Richmond) in 1975, the Commercial Hotel became Richmond’s only pub and was renamed the Richmond Arms Hotel in 1979.  The Stone outbuilding, which is now the hotel's accommodation is the original stable of the 1827 Lennox Arms Inn which was destroyed by the fire in 1888.

Main Information & Text Source – Australian Heritage Database

Richmond Arms Hotel website -