Wednesday, 6 July 2016

The Grove, George Town

“The Grove” was built by Matthew Curling Friend circa 1835. Friend had been transferred from Launceston to George Town in 1835, to take up duties as magistrate as well as continuing as Port Officer of the Tamar.
Matthew and his wife, Mary-Anne did not live in “The Grove” for too long and when Mary-Anne died in 1838 while dressing to go to a ball, they appear to have been living in Government Cottage further up Cimitiere Street.

The house has had many owners, as people came to the town to do a job and then left again. Matthew Curling Friend owned the house until about 1852 when he retired to England though it was owned briefly by the Rev Fereday and his family from 1846 – 49. William Lushington Goodwin (a former ships captain whose ship sank in the Tamar, after which he started the “Cornwall Chronicle”, a Launceston newspaper that he used to lambast all and sundry) lived at “The Grove” until his death in 1862 and his wife for about 7 years longer. Dr James Richardson, former surgeon for the Van Diemens Land Company owned the house for 20 years until 1889.

In mid 1889, “The Grove” was purchased by Joseph Davies, who had come to the area to manage a gold mine at Lefroy and then the newly opened Beaconsfield gold mine. The house by this time was apparently in a run-down state. He carried out some restoration works including replacing the wooden shingles with iron. It is said that Joseph was rowed across the river and was met on the other side by a horse tram to get to work each day.

Joseph died in 1922, Elizabeth in 1926 and “The Grove” was left to their son, Thomas. Returning as a much decorated Major from World War 1, Thomas continued with his mining interests, moving to “The Grove” with his wife, Lesley and their 3 children. Becoming a member of the Tasmanian Parliament representing the people of Bass, major Davies subsequently became Minister of Land & Works. He died in 1942 while still in office and his widow sold “The Grove”

Once more it passed through several hands until by 1968, “The Grove” was in terrible condition. The local council considered restoring it then considered putting a demolition order on it. After a lot of local concern and agitation the property was condemned as unrestorable. Many avenues of saving the house were explored and in 1969 after nothing had been achieved, Chlo Martin & her late husband, Peter decided to look into what would be involved in restoring the house. 

After extensive investigation they adventurously purchased “The Grove” at the end of 1969. Two solid years of hard restoration work followed and gradually “The Grove” was brought back to life as a museum from 1971 until 2007 complete with a restaurant and accommodation facilities. The house has reverted back to a family home but still operates the B&B accommodation facilities.

Main Text & Information Sources –
"Treasures of George Town" - George Town & District Historical Society 2003