Thursday, 13 December 2012

Runnymede House

Runnymede is an elegant colonial house situated in New Town just north of Hobart city. It is located in a lovely garden that overlooks New Town Bay on the River Derwent. It was built around 1836 for Robert Pitcairn, the first lawyer to qualify in the colony and a leading campaigner against the transportation of convicts from Britain. He named the house "Cairn Lodge".
A 1840's sandstone Regency villa surrounded by elegant lawns and gardens, Runnymede focuses on aspects of Southern Tasmania's history. Today, as a house museum, it shows all about about domestic life in the colony in the 1860's. It depicts the home environment of successful business and professional people, rather than that of the very rich. Through the three families who lived there over 120 years, Runnymede has close links with different parts of the colony's history. First, Scottish-born lawyer Robert Pitcairn, who played a part in the demise of convict transportation, then the island's first Anglican Bishop, Francis Russell Nixon, and finally the successful master mariners and whalers, Captains Charles and James Bayley. Their descendants occupied Runnymede until 1963.
When Captain Charles Bayley bought the house in 1864 he named it Runnymede after his favourite ship. The Bayley family lived in the house for the next 100 years.

The National Trust has restored and furnished the house to its original elegance. The house contains rich collections of material related to the whaling and maritime interests of the family as well as artworks and family possessions of the previous owner Bishop Francis Nixon, Tasmania’s first Anglican Bishop. Runnymede survives with house, cottage and coach house, and an extensive garden. The garden features many historic trees and plants, including roses and fruit trees.
Hidden in a small side street in New Town, Runnymede is a beautifully kept National Trust property. The restoration of this grand home has been carefully completed, giving a really authentic 19th century feel. Carefully restored and maintained by the National Trust, Runnymede is now furnished as a gentleman's residence of the 1840s period. Volunteer members of the National Trust provide guided tours throughout the building and provide fantastic descriptions of every aspect of the house, its furnishings and history, down to some of the smallest details. Well worth the time to have a look through as well as a walk through the extensive gardens and out buildings.