Sunday, 7 September 2014

The Old Rectory & The Dispensary

The Old Rectory is a large two storey Georgian Colonial house set in 4ha of grounds in Richmond. Also set in the grounds is a small two room stone cottage used in the 1850s by Dr John Coverdale as his dispensary. This two-storey stone mansion was reputedly built by James Gordon who was the Police Magistrate for Richmond between September 1829 and March 1832.

By 1835 the property was owned by John Halls who mortgaged it for ₤700 at 15% interest. In September 1838 the property was purchased by William Henry Breton for ₤1,900.  Breton was Police Magistrate for Richmond between December 1835 and April 1841.  Breton subsequently became the Police Magistrate for Launceston and he rented out the house until May 1854 when he sold it to Dr John Coverdale.

Coverdale was born in India and studied medicine at Glasgow, Scotland before coming to Australia.  He arrived in Hobart around 1837 and moved to Richmond a few years later and established a medical practice. Coverdale reputedly used the compact stone building that is today’s 11 Edward Street as his dispensary.

In 1861 the Richmond Municipal Council was created and Coverdale topped the poll at its first election.  His fellow councillors elected him warden and he retained this position until 1864 when he left the district to become the surgeon superintendent of the Queen’s Asylum for Orphans at New Town.  Coverdale leased out the property to the successors to his medical practice – Dr Charles Turner and later Dr William Allnutt.

Coverdale died in June 1896 and his properties in Richmond were sold at auction in April 1901.  The notice in The Mercury described his Edward Street property as ‘a valuable allotment of land … together with the large stone two-storey dwelling house, with stables, outbuildings, garden, and paddock.’  The property was purchased on behalf of the Church of England in Tasmania ‘for a parsonage and dwelling house for the use of the Incumbent or Curate in charge for the time being of the Parish Church of St Luke situated in Richmond.’

Today’s 11 Edward Street (the old dispensary) was sold off as a private residence in November 1904 but today’s 15 Edward Street remained the rectory for St Luke’s until the early 1970s. Both properties remain private residences to this day and both appear to be in wonderful condition considering their age.

Main Text & Information Source – Australian Heritage Database