Sunday, 31 August 2014

Arthur Circus

Arthur Circus is a ring of old cottages surrounding an old village green at the heart of Battery Point. The cottages surrounding the village green of Arthur Circus were constructed for the officers of the garrison. They’re small dwellings, probably originally consisting of just two main rooms when they were built in the 1840s. They are in stark contrast to the extravagant homes of their Battery Point neighbors. It was one of the earliest sub-divisions in Australia, the land having been established by then Governor George Arthur in dubious circumstances in 1829.

The land had been part of the original land grant belonging to the Rev Robert Knopwood. It was part of a larger land holding that included Knopwood's main residence, "Cottage Green". By January 1829, Knopwood had sold off sections of his land holdings and the cottage and the area which became Arthur Circus was purchased by a Mr Jennings. A few months later, Mr Jennings sold the cottage and the land that is now occupied by Arthur Circus to Lieutenant Governor George Arthur.

However, there appeared to be some doubt as to the legality of the original location and this caused Arthur to apply for a land grant for the area seven years later. This was finally issued in 1837 but not in his name but rather in the name of Arthur's private secretary, William Thomas Parramore. The circus is shown in a published survey map of Hobart from 1842 and is largely as it is today.

Allotments were finally offered ten years after Arthur had gained possession of the circus area through Parramore and the design of the area was very cleverly done with the frontages of the allotments facing in towards the centre which allowed for more houses to be fitted into the available space. A fact that would have been appreciated by a canny business man like Arthur. All the blocks were sold within 5 years.

Nearly all the original cottages are still there and Arthur Circus looks very much like it did in its earliest days. However, some of the houses have been dramatically altered inside but most of the owners have been reluctant to make major changes to the outside of the cottages, instead preferring to keep the cottages true to their colonial past. The small blocks and the configuration of the blocks around the central green give the area a real friendly feel and quite a unique community with all cottages still remaining private residences to this day.

A visit to Arthur's Circus is truly a step back in time. 

Main Information & Text Source -
“Mansions, Cottages and All Saints” – Book by Audrey Holiday & Walter Eastman

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