Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The Priory, Sth Hobart

A fine example of a late Georgian residence in an imposing hillside location with superb views of the River Derwent.  The man who started the construction of this tall three storey house of red colonial brick was no stranger to sadness, adventure and perhaps more than a little bit of mischief.

Hugh Cokeley Ross was a barrister, solicitor and conveyancer who arrived in Van Dieman’s Land in Dec 1822, on board the Regatta. He was admitted to the Lt Governor’s court on the 1st April the following year. He was admitted to the Supreme Court the very next day. His ownership of the land on which the Priory still stands was twelve years into his future. He suffered a bitter blow in 1825 when his 26yo wife, Sarah, mother to their 4 small children, died and was buried in what is now St David’s Park.

By 1835, when he had purchased what was then a very large block of land where the Priory stands today, he was acting as Crown Solicitor for the colony and had been married again. His second wife, Anna Maria would eventually bear him a further 4 sons. His newly acquired land had a frontage on Davey St and extended down to the Sandy Bay Rivulet. The area was about 1.5 hectares. The man who he bought the land from - a Commander in the Royal Navy, Charles Colville Frankland, had built a small cottage on it. Ross set about changing it to “an elegant and spacious residence” of one storey and consisting of at least six rooms.

Sadly, by 1840, Ross found himself in financial difficulties and by December that year had been forced to advertise the property for sale. The reason given for the sale was that Ross’s professional engagements required his constant residence in town. However, worse was to come for Ross. Because of the existing financial climate in the colony at the time, the house was sold for considerably less than expected and thus, a month later The Hobart Town Courier newspaper carried the following story:
“A great sensation has been occasioned by the absconding of Mr Hugh Ross, the Crown Solicitor with, it is said, a considerable sum of the public money”

He was eventually caught, returned to the colony to face trial and was ultimately acquitted on a technicality. In the late 1850’s the Priory was bought by a city chemist, Henry Hinsby, who added the 2nd floor. In 1864, he completed its construction by adding the attic bedrooms.
The present owners have confirmed that the first floor verandah on the southern side of the building is still, - in the words of the press advertisement of more than a century  and a half ago – “commanding a most delightful view of the harbour and Sandy Bay.

There is also an attractive outbuilding of single storey brick with tall attic space on the property which still survives in good condition.

Text & Information source:
“Mansions, Cottages and All Saints” – Book by Audrey Holiday & Walter Eastman

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Hanover Cottage

John Aldridge, Pilot for the Port of Hobart Town, purchased a block of land on the northern side of Cromwell Street, Battery Point for ₤60 when the area was first subdivided in 1833.  The block was located near the top of the hill and commanded ‘a beautiful view of the Town and River.’  Aldridge built a house and advertised its lease in the Colonial Times in February 1836.  He described it as ‘A Comfortable Dwelling-house, containing a dining and drawing-room with folding doors, five bed-rooms, kitchen, store-room, and large wash-house newly finished and completely painted, suitable for a respectable family.’  (It is noted that the foundation stone for St George’s Church, on the opposite side of Cromwell Street, wasn’t laid until October 1836.)

John Aldridge died in June 1855 but his widow continued to rent out the property to various tenants, including Captain John Austin who had spent many years transporting military and prisoners to the colony and was credited with having brought more people to Tasmania than any other man.

Mary Ann Hartam purchased the property for ₤700 in October 1873.  Mary Ann and her husband, Charles, were popular hotel-keepers and she was the owner of the Criterion Hotel in Liverpool Street.  They called their new home Hartamville and arranged for Edward C Rowntree, architect, to design ‘alterations and additions’ which were tendered in October 1874.

Mary Ann Hartam died in August 1876 and, despite the fact that he was already 65 years old, Charles remarried and had two sons and a daughter with his second wife.  Charles died at Hartamville in February 1887 and the ownership of the property was subsequently subject to a dispute that went all the way to the Supreme Court.  Charles’ second wife had assumed ownership of Hartamville but the Court heard that Mary Ann Hartam had made a will leaving her property to her adopted son, Robert Charles Hartam McLauchlan.  Even though the will had mysteriously disappeared, the judge found sufficient secondary evidence to prove its existence and contents and ownership of Hartamville passed to McLauchlan.

Robert Charles Hartam McLauchlan put Hartamville up for sale at auction in January 1905.  Adverts described it as a ‘large and commodious family residence … the house is constructed of brick, and has a verandah back and front, contains 10 large and commodious rooms … and is in every way suitable for a gentleman’s residence.’ William Bispham Propsting and William Richard Frederick Propsting purchased Hartamville in June 1907 and they rented it out to various tenants including Thomas Bennison, the city coroner.  The Propstings sold the property for ₤1,750 in August 1923 and it was subsequently renamed Wyuna and operated as a boarding house.

I have been unable to find any further information regarding the property although somewhere along the line, the cottage was renamed Hanover Cottage and it is under this name that the property is listed in the Australian Heritage Database. The dwelling is now a private residence. 

Information Source: Australian Heritage Database

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Rev. Knopwood's Grave Site

Robert Knopwood (1763-1838), cleric and diarist, was born on 2 June 1763, the third child and only surviving son of Robert Knopwood and his wife Elizabeth, née Barton of Threxton, Norfolk, England. He was 8 when his father died leaving debts of £10,000. Part of the considerable family estate was sold to cover them, but Threxton itself remained and was worth £18,000 when Robert inherited it at 23. He was educated at Wymondham, Bury St Edmunds, and Newport, Essex. in June 1781 he was admitted to Caius College, Cambridge to study for the ministry. He graduated in 1786, but by this time had been borrowing substantially and was said to have become associated with the hunting and shooting set of the young Viscount Clermont.

He was ordained deacon at Norwich in December 1788 and priest a year later. By this time he was so deeply in debt that he had to sell half of Threxton to Clermont; but he continued his heavy borrowing and in October 1795 was forced to sell the remainder of it. It is likely that he became chaplain to Clermont and later to Earl Spencer, through whose influence he was appointed chaplain in H.M.S. Resolution in 1801. He served in the West Indies and elsewhere until in 1803 he joined David Collins's expedition to Port Phillip.
From that date he began his famous diary and continued it until his death. At what is now Sorrento, he conducted the first religious service in Victoria in October 1803 and, after Collins decided to abandon that settlement, the first service in Tasmania at Hobart Town in February 1804.

In March 1805 he moved from his tent to Cottage Green, the house he had built at Battery Point, 'having been sixteen months three weeks and five days exposed to the inclemency of all weathers and continual robberies by convicts and servants'. In addition to his 400-acres (162 ha) at Clarence Plains (Rokeby), Governor Philip Gidley King granted him a further 100 acres (40 ha) there and thirty acres (12 ha) in Hobart. Governor Lachlan Macquarie granted him another 500 acres (202 ha) in 1815, and he also had a grant on the South Esk. But despite all this, his ineptitude in money matters led to difficulties. By 1816 he was forced to accept an offer of £2000 for the Cottage Green property, though this fell through and in 1824 Lieutenant-Governor  Sir George Arthur acquired it for £800.

He served as a magistrate from March 1804 until 1828 and despite a reputation for kindliness showed no apparent concern at the severity of the sentences he felt called on to impose. He toured his huge parish on horseback, travelling as far as Port Dalrymple until Rev. John Youl took up appointment there in 1819. The near-illiteracy of his diary in the Royal Society of Tasmania, Hobart, is not borne out by his correspondence, and his letters show a man of finer qualities than those of the generally accepted sporting parson. The diary reveals that for many years he had a painful complaint, though his frequent indisposition was always ascribed to intemperance. However, his liquor bills provide plenty of evidence that he entertained generously. Governor Collins was a frequent visitor and Knopwood often dined at Government House.

The diary is a daily record of his own doings and those of the settlement. Its value lies largely in the fact that often there is no other source for the period, and one wishes that he had devoted less space to the weather. He writes of his pride in his garden, and of his affection for Betty Mack, whom he had adopted as an infant when her mother was deserted by a marine. Henry Savery, meeting Knopwood at Government House, saw him as 'an elderly parson in a straight-cut single breasted coat with an upright collar, a clergyman of the old school, remarkably mild and placid countenance, manner easy and gentlemanly in the extreme, conversation lively and agreeable—a choice spirit'. However, he was no favourite of Governor Macquarie, who frequently criticized his behaviour.

Knopwood's last years were saddened by sickness and poverty. In 1817 his salary of £182 was increased to £260, but in 1823 when he retired through ill health his pension was only £100, though he had his land at Rokeby. He ministered unofficially to his neighbours there until in 1826 he was appointed rector of the parish. He held this position until his death on 18 September 1838, harassed from time to time by his creditors. His grave was unmarked until Betty Mack's daughter, Mrs Stanfield, who had inherited his estate in Chancery, erected the present monument. The grave site can be visited at St Mathews Church, Rokeby.

Information Source:
Australian Dictionary of Biography – Robert Knopwood

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

St Patrick's Church, Colebrook

Virtually every settlement in Australian has a church, the overwhelming majority of which are in the Gothic style. Collectively they represent one of the major images of our cultural landscape. Their Gothic style comes from the designs of Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-52), England's greatest early-Victorian architect, designer and theorist, who has a seminal impact on the development of nineteenth-century design and architecture, particularly the association of Gothic design with ecclesiastical structures. Pugin's vision is best understood through his own church designs. These are only to be found in England, Ireland and Australia.

In Tasmania the group of his churches, St Patrick's, Colebrook, St Paul's Oatlands, and additions to St John's, Richmond, constitutes a unique layout of his vision throughout Australia in an entire class of buildings: churches large and small, sophisticated and crude. Their proximity as a group is a unique example of the rural landscape with churches as its focus. Such a close unspoiled group of Pugin small village churches can be found nowhere else, including England and Ireland.

St Patrick's Church is an aisled church with a triple bellcote on top of the nave east wall.  The church is constructed from coursed sandstone and has corrugated iron roofs and a plastered interior.  Its mid nineteenth-century crown glass windows are largely intact.  The style of the church is English Flowing Decorated Gothic of c.1320 and it is very similar to small English village churches of the period.

It stands in a churchyard with adjacent cemetery in which is a churchyard cross, an arrangement promoted in Pugin's writings, but in fact more in evidence in Tasmania than in England. This church is one of only two of Pugin's buildings constructed from highly detailed accurate scale models made in London by George Myers, his favoured builder.  The design dates from 1843 and the models were brought to Tasmania in 1844 by Pugin's very close friend Robert William Willson, first Bishop of Hobart Town.  Construction was started on a crown land grant on the hillside above the village of Jerusalem (later renamed Colebrook) in 1855 and the church was opened on 21 January 1857.

In September 1895 the triple bellcote astride the nave east wall was blown down in a mini tornado, destroying the chancel roof and damaging the chancel walls and floor. When the church was repaired the bellcote was not replaced. This was done in 2007 after reverse engineering the bellcote drawings. The bellcote is the only such triple bellcote in this position on any of Pugin’s churches and very significant.

In the early 1970s the choir screen was pulled down and partly re-erected at the west end of the nave. It was later put back across the chancel entrance but with parts damaged or missing. In 2006 the screen was dismantled and conserved, the missing and damaged components being re-carved in matching Australian Cedar. It was re-installed in December 2006.

Essentially, the building is intact and is presented as when it was first completed. It is currently part of a conservation project being undertaken by the Pugin Foundation and still is active, providing services as part of the Richmond Parish.

Information Source: Australian Heritage Database

Pugin Foundation Conservation Project:

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Hobart GPO

Postal services were an important feature of Australian life from the early colonial period, given their role as the only means of contact between Australia and Britain for much of the 19th Century. Postal offices were among the first infrastructure developed in each new town and each new colony. The isolation of Van Diemen's Land from the United Kingdom was immense. Correspondence, both official and domestic, was intermittent and it was not unusual for a stampede to occur when a ship arrived in Hobart. The first mail from Van Diemen's Land was carried by ships engaged in whaling and sealing with captains often paid 'in kind'- an early order from Governor King to Lieutenant Collins authorized the payment of 30 empty salt meat casks in return for carriage of dispatches to King's Island.

Appointed by Lieutenant Governor Davey in 1812, John Beamont accepted the position of Postmaster-General although he hoped for appointment as a Crown Agent. By 1814 he had resigned to take a better position, as he received no remuneration other than postal fees. In 1814 James Mitchell was appointed Deputy to Isaac Nichols, Postmaster-General of New South Wales and operated the service out of his house on the corner of Argyle and Macquarie Streets until 1818. In 1815 he mailed the first letter by public conveyance to the Secretary of the Post Office in London bearing the address- Hobart Town, Van Diemen's Land, South Pacific. This letter, conveyed by the master of the 'Jefferson' took 225 days to reach London and was considered a great advance on mail which had to travel via Sydney, as this route could often include a stop-over there for months before further conveyance.

In 1816 W.T Stocker, the official government messenger, pioneered the overland route between the Southern and Northern settlements, which it is claimed, was the first overland mail delivery service in Australia. In 1818, as the Postmaster, he moved the post office to Collins Street, probably near the Campbell Street corner. In 1822 John Collicott added the business of Postmaster to that of general storekeeper and auctioneer at his premises in Murray Street. Collicott issued the first General Regulations for Post Messengers and Charles Abbott and W. Brown were appointed Postmasters at Launceston and George Town respectively. The postal messengers were seconded convicts until 1840 who enjoyed significant privileges in return for fulfilling their duties. Services were hampered by the general illiteracy of these men.

In 1835 household deliveries began in Hobart with three deliveries every day, except Sunday. By this time the Main Road to Launceston was greatly improved, with the mail cart becoming the Royal Mail Coach. Between 1862 and 1905 the Post Office in Hobart occupied the old Court House at the corner of Murray and Macquarie Streets which had been substantially rebuilt for this purpose.

A competition was held for the designs of the new GPO with local architect Alan Walker winning from a field of 9 entrants. Walker served his apprenticeship with the well-known architect Henry Hunter who was responsible for many of Tasmania's more significant early public buildings. The Post Office was one of the first public buildings opened in Tasmania after Federation.

The site of the present GPO was in the hands of the Lord family from 1818 until 'Lords Corner' was acquired by the Government. The original house was demolished by 1901 when the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George V and Queen Mary) laid the foundation stone for the new building. The GPO was opened on 2 September 1905 at 10am, when the Inspector of Public Buildings ordered the barriers which held back a large crowd of people be removed. A race ensued to determine who should be the first person to post a letter at the new Hobart General Post Office. At the time of its conception and construction, the GPO was the ultimate expression of Tasmanians faith in their State when, at Federation, there were strong expenditure constraints imposed by the new Commonwealth Government. The clock and tower were actually funded by the people of Hobart.

The building is of a strong but reserved design and compares favorably with Hobart's other major public buildings, such as the Town Hall, the Court buildings and the Old Treasury Building. The GPO is a familiar physical landmark in the Hobart central business district with its strong corner position. It is an imposing structure, well visible by virtue of the width of the streets and its relationship to surrounding buildings and Franklin Square. It continues to serve the public of Hobart to this day.

Information Source: Australian Heritage Database

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Melton Mowbray Hotel

Melton Manor located in the Tasmanian southern midlands is a sprawling complex over 3 levels. Since its construction in the mid 19th century the Melton Manor host’s have accommodated military, landed gentry, government officials as well as transported convicts. The convicts not faring at all well as they were secured in an underground cell devoid of any facilities or light which was the norm during the period of history.

Melton Manor was regarded among the most esteemed as a prominent destination for race horse and hound hunt enthusiasts and was renowned for hosting such events. Mr. Blackwell (the original owner) was revered for his sporting accomplishments among peers and was often sought for coaching.

The Hotel was built by Samuel Blackwell who came to Australia in 1840. A decade later, Blackwell was granted a stage coach licence for a two-wheel vehicle to run between Green Ponds and Bothwell for 12 months. A year later he bought land at Cross Marsh (now Melton), and in 1858 he built a large two-storey inn which he named Melton Mowbray after his birthplace in England.

In 1853 he entered horses in the Town Plate run at New Town. A few years later he decided to import a racehorse from England, and commissioned a Mr. Brown of Hobart Town, to select a suitable one during a visit to the Old Country. Mr. Brown bought Panic while the horse’s owner was absent from home, and there was consternation when he found his favourite racer had been sold. However, he agreed to let the purchase stand, and received 1,000 guineas in payment.

Panic enjoyed success in races, the most notable being when he won the “Championship” of 1865, and ran second in the Melbourne Cup. Then he was turned out to stud, and one of his first stock was Strop who won the Launceston Cup four times. Another of Panic’s foals was Nimblefoot, which won the Melbourne Cup. In 1860 Blackwell acquired a pack of Beagle hounds, and he hunted them as the Southern Hunt Club hounds. He had a deer park on his property, and a racecourse built at the rear of the hotel.

It was not unusual for travellers on the coaches from Hobart to Launceston to break their journey for two days at Melton to converse with Mr. Blackwell and admire his trophies and the handsome pictures which adorned the walls. Many members of the Government stopped at Melton Mowbray, and when Governor Weld was appointed in 1875 he made a habit of spending all his annual holidays at Melton and travelling up there for all the races.

On one occasion His Excellency sent his children and their governess to the hotel for six weeks’ holiday especially for Mr. Blackwell to teach the children to ride. During the first Royal Tour of Australia in 1878, the Duke of Edinburgh was the guest of Mr. Blackwell at Melton Mowbray.

In the early 20th century a ballroom was constructed which was a beacon to the districts residents and enhanced Melton Manor’s popularity as an entertainment venue and travellers retreat. The building, now known as The Melton Mowbray Hotel, features a secret convict’s cell and hidden servants’ quarters.

It is also the site of the Heritage listed Stone Horse Trough which is one of the few remaining horse troughs still located in its original position and in excellent condition. A reminder of the horse drawn past and the importance of the Inns on the stagecoach routes that opened up the new colonies.
The property was recently up for sale.

Text & Information Source: Melton Mowbray Hotel