Sunday, 12 January 2014

Hillgrove, Taroona

This residence, situated directly opposite the Shot Tower on the Channel Highway, sits on a small plateau of sandstone in a sheltered position facing NE and affording majestic views of the Derwent River from Tranmere to Opposum ay, the Iron Pot and Betsey Island. Much of the land surrounding the property is steep and wooded and parts of it was cleared for pastures and orchards. originally the property comprised 129 acres which was granted to Henry Bilton.

In early 1866 Andrew Livingstone purchased 64 acres of the land and set about erecting the first dwelling, a brick cottage, on the site. Built on substantial sandstone foundations with locally made sandstock bricks, the cottage remains intact and well preserved. Walls and ceilings are lathe & plaster and the restored woodwork is pine & cedar. There are 7 open fireplaces and an orginal cast iron wood stove remains in a pantry.

In 1878, Andrew Livingstone sold the property to Lt Charles Beddome and it became known as "Hillgrove", the name of Beddomes's property in QLD and also his ancestral home in England. Beddome commenced major extention works on the property with a huge weatherboard extention onto the original brick cottage and the building of a Mansard roof. Lt Beddome was a recognized conchologist ( one who deals with the study of molluscs, specifically their shells) and was reported at the time "to have one of the most perfect private collections of shells".

Lt Beddome passed away in 1898 and the property was passed on to his eldest son, Richard. Richard sold the property in 1908 to William Dixon who went on to establish an extensive orchard on the grounds. This became a thriving venture and several large sheds were built to store the produce. One was reputedly a jam factory which offered jars of jams to passing travellers.

During the depression and war years, the property changed hands on a number of occasions and it was known that a tea room operated for a number of years in a downstairs dining room. In 1950, a new owner took over and converted the house into several flats. for over 30 years the house remained flats. It even survived the devastating bushfires of 1967, only losing several outbuildings and practically all the fruit trees. It did however, become extremely dilapidated until it was purchased in 1981 when the new owners began a major restoration program to restore the house back to a family home.

The house is architecturally interesting and unique and has responded well to the sympathetci restoration. The main rooms are baltic pine linedand unusual for the architecture at the time, there are no connecting corridors between rooms, rather a series of kauri pine staircases and landings serving this purpose, which are a main feature of the house.There is 85 feet of verandahs to enable uninterrupted views of the River Derwent. There are also 4 bedrooms situated upstairs in the mansard roof..

An interesting footnote to the restoration process was whilst cleaning the original baltic pine walls of shellac in the present sitting room which faces NE and has French doors opening onto the verandah, the owners found a difference in colouration left by rows and rows of shelves on which Lt Beddome must have stored his collection of shells.

A Beautiful Illustration of Hillgrove by 
Audrey Holiday - "Mansions Cottages & All Saints"

The house is beautifully restored and must be a magnificent family home. Perched majestically on the hillside overlooking the Shot Tower, Hillgrove is also listed by the National Trust and on the Australian Heritage Database.