Sunday, 1 February 2015

Prospect House, Hamilton

Located on the Hamilton Plains Road, Prospect House has a perfect view overlooking the historic township of Hamilton. It is a most attractive sandstone building consisting of some twenty one rooms with a long, narrow flagstone cellar. It was built on land originally granted to James Triffett in 1824 and the house and ten acres of land was bought in the 1830's by Dr John Frederick Sharland. Originally known as Acacia Cottage, it was enlarged in the 1840's and renamed Prospect House.

Dr Sharland originally arrived in Van Diemen's Land in 1823 on the ship, Elizabeth, accompanied by his father, John (who would take the property Rotherwood) and his brother, William Stanley. William was a surveyor and explorer of great note and in 1832, ranged as far as the Gordon river, Lake St Clair & Frenchman's Gap.

On the 3rd of march 1829, Dr Sharland was appointed the Hamilton Medical District Assistant Surgeon with a princely salary of 54 pounds, 15 shillings a year. His coffers would receive a slight boost after may 1842 when he received a further appointment as medical officer to the local convict probation party. To cater for all his patients, Dr Sharland had a three storey sandstone surgery built across the road from his house. Unfortunately this building has subsequently been demolished at a later date.

When the Hamilton Municipal Council was formed in 1863, Dr Sharland was elected the first warden. he had long been very active in local community affairs. For example, he was the trustee of the Roads Act Trust which was responsible from 1850 onwards for the upkeep and ongoing maintenance of roads in the Hamilton District. To help pay for the works, numerous toll bars were erected around the district.

After Dr Sharland passed away in 1870, Prospect House was subsequently owned by various owners, including Madden Brothers and later by George Sonners. In 1980, the property was purchased by John & Helen Poynder who began to restore the house and its stone outbuildings as faithfully as possible. Many fittings in the house are constructed in cedar and the Poynders have put countless hours of work into restoring them, especially the window shutters.

The rear courtyard is a main feature of the outbuildings area and used to be surrounded by a high stone wall. Local girls used to be employed to scrub the paving stones every day and that was no small job, especially when the frosts were severe. A big square sandstone drain, which ran from the bathroom through the courtyard was considered high technology for its day.

Perhaps the most appealing feature is the stunning, world renowned gardens. The romantic English garden comprises a number of themed "rooms" sheltered by manicured hedges. The richly planted gardens are a riot of colour and boast a huge range of specimens. Secret gardens are enhanced with water features, urn gardens, obelisks and spectacular lattice structures.

The northern garden is themed as a Tuscan / Italian renaissance delight, with the focal point being an elegant “temple”; the perfect spot to enjoy a wine and to entertain guests. The symmetric layout is complimented by perfect hedges, citrus trees in huge terracotta pots, statues and a beautiful fountain.The gardens have featured both internationally and Australia wide in gardening magazines and press articles.

The impression created is one of peace and tranquility. It gives the sense of a much larger oasis in Hamilton’s comparatively dry Mediterranean climate. These gardens are truly magnificent and have obviously been a labour of love for Helen Poynder.

The property has just recently been put on the market and one can only hope that the new owners will continue to give the property the love, care and attention to detail that the Poynders have. A truly beautiful property to visit and one that I highly recommend.

Main Text & Information Sources - 
"From Black Snake To Bronte" - Book by Audrey Holiday & John Trigg
Australian Dictionary of Biography - William Stanley Sharland