Sunday, 25 May 2014


'Hildern' was built in the late 1840s for David Heckscher, a watchmaker and jeweller.  Heckscher got into financial difficulties and had to sell the property to repay his debts.
John James (c1794-1863), a wine and spirit merchant, bought 'Hildern' in 1850 and over the next forty years it was rented out to various tenants. William Gilchrist Watt (c1840-1914) bought the property in 1893.  Watt lived at 'Hildern' until his death at which time the property passed to his wife, Catherine.

Catherine paid for the construction of St James the Apostle Church which is located a few hundred metres away on the corner of Elizabeth Street and Rupert Avenue.  The Church was dedicated in the memory of William Gilchrist Watt by the Bishop of Tasmania in 1918.

Catherine died in 1919 and bequeathed Hildern to the Church of England in Tasmania as the Rectory for St James'.  Hildern remained the Rectory for St James' for over sixty years until the 1980s when the Church could no longer afford to maintain it.  The Tasmanian Government had to pass legislation - the Church of England (Rectory of St James the Apostle) Act 1980 - to allow the Church to sell the property.

It would appear that the building and its accompanying stone barn are still in private hands to this day and appears to be undergoing restoration and conservation of the buildings and grounds.

Main Information & Text Source – Australian Heritage Database