Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The Rectory, New Norfolk

The Rectory is a large, two and a half storey brick residence which was built for the Rectors of the nearby St Mathews Church. It replaced an earlier building on church land that had been acquired for the administration of the nearby Asylum. It has since housed many Rectors since it's construction in 1892. The house was originally designed by Mr R.F.Flack Rickards who was based in Hobart.

The incumbent Rector at the time of construction, the Rev. W.W.F Murray, who was the Rector for St Mathews from 1854 until 1894, may well have had some say into the specifications, especially if he had the large family that a home of this size would seem to indicate he may have had.

There are five bedrooms upstairs, two sitting rooms, a study and kitchen (with numerous smaller rooms for storage, laundry area etc.) downstairs and last of all, a mezzanine level that contains two small rooms. These were the servant's quarters. Outside the rooms, on the landing well, there was a "Summoning Box" with the numbers of each room in the house marked on it. Perfect for summoning the servants to attend to your every needs. Accommodation for any visiting clergy would have been required too, at the turn of the century.

Additional features include the lead lighting around the front door, the iron lace below the verandah roof, ornate scrollwork over the entrance gable and a truly magnificent garden. Many of the Rectors and their families who have lived in the beautiful house have added greatly to the continuing development of the gardens. The property is well known for its beautiful gardens.

The property is now a private residence and still retains the elegance of its past. A truly magnificent property.

Main Text & Information Source - 
"From Black Snake To Bronte" - Book by Audrey Holiday & John Trigg

Sunday, 28 December 2014

District Constable's Cottage, Sorell

Sorell is one of the oldest settlements in Tasmania. When Governor Macquarie named the town in June 1821, the district had already grown from the small farming settlement of a decade earlier, to a thriving wheat growing district of some sixty farms complete with a flour mill. In 1823, the town's population was 133 residents and of these, 96 were convicts. Sorell had a barracks building which was used in the early half of the nineteenth century until the time that police were stationed in the town. A court house and gaol were built in 1818 on the site where the Sorell Council Chambers now stands.

Built by Constable Alexander Laing circa 1832, this lovely little cottage is of stone construction with cedar woodwork. Laing was Chief Constable of Police in the Sorell (Pittwater) district between 1819 – 1838. It is a well constructed and finely crafted house that stands in contrast to the simpler and cruder buildings in the district from the earlier half of the nineteenth century. This house has been known by residents of Sorell for many years as the former Police Commissioner's residence. The genteel style of 28 Gordon Street, its general location and close proximity to the gaol and courthouse does suggest a relationship between the two sites and that the building was the residence for a government employee.

This Victorian Georgian style house features 11 rooms. It has a hipped roof of corrugated iron (originally shingle, with the remnants preserved under the corrugated iron) with three dormer rooms within, and stuccoed walls. French doors open from the front rooms at ground level to the front verandah which features Huon Pine posts. a Huon Pine front door opens to a wide central entrance hall with two rooms opening off it to the left and two to the right.

The sitting room and dining rooms can be opened or divided by partitioned cedar doors. The front rooms' French doors open to the verandah, presumably for reasons of access and ventilation. These doors feature window shutters to block out light and increase security. The joinery includes six panelled doors typical of early Victorian houses in southern Tasmania. Door and window architraves are six inches wide and of moulded timber. The skirting-boards are nine inches high with fine mouldings on top. The joinery is intact and of a high quality. Partitioning between sitting and dining-room appears original.

Outbuildings at the rear include a shed (possibly used as kitchen, bake house or a servant's room) and a stable (which has been partially rebuilt and may have had an additional storey originally). A separate shed with paned window and door opening away from house was once used as a two seater dunny building. The two seater toilet seat has been removed.

The house was classified by the National Trust as the District Constables House residence on 5 December 1983. There have been suggestions in the local community that the house is also associated with the bushranger, Matthew Brady and the artist, Houghton Forrest but no supporting evidence has been found for these suggestions.

Main Text & Information Source – Australian Heritage Database

UPDATE!!! - 11/1/2015

I recently received a fantastic email from Peta Kelly who is the owner of the District Constables Cottage and she has provided me with some awesome details about the history of the cottage. With Peta's approval, please see the contents of her email below and the the two photos of the leaflet the Peta has also supplied..

"Hello Geoff,
I have been following and enjoying your blog for some time and today saw your great photos of our house at 28 Gordon Street Sorell. I tried to reply directly to Hel's comment but it wouldn't publish for some reason!

Anyway, the shingles are still there under the zincalume roof which we put on in 1995 to replace the rusty corrugated iron job when we went for National Estate Listing in 1995. (At that time there was no Tasmanian Heritage legislation and no chance of applying for conservation grants without being on a govt. register. The grant we did eventually get went nowhere near the cost of reshingling!!!) 

Since then we have found out that the house was built by John Jackson in 1848 to rent to the Police Magistrate, so I guess it should be more correctly known as the Police Magistrate's House. (John Jackson also built the lovely Stone Buildings in Macquarie Street and several other Hobart buildings)

The 2 acres of land which used to be attached to the house was originally granted to and occupied by Alexander Laing, the first District Constable and living here in Sorell at the time of the 1825 Brady Raid, hence the confusion over the building's origins.
Hope this tiny Tas history correction was useful and keep up the great work!
Peta Kelly"

Thank you very much to Peta for all the fantastic Information.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014


The building is a lovely example of a Colonial Georgian 'out-of-town' (or suburban) residence. Cliefden was constructed for Henry Colman Kesterton in 1834.  Kesterton only lived there for a couple of years before moving to New South Wales and Cliefden was purchased by John Mezger for ₤278 in February 1839.

Mezger was a successful publican who operated the Bird-in-Hand Hotel in Argyle Street, Hobart for many years.  By the 1850s Mezger also owned Lauderdale on Risdon Road, the Dusty Miller Inn in Glenorchy, Gatehouse's mill and brewery on the New Town Rivulet, and Albert Park House.  When Mezger died in February 1854, the trustees of his estate rented out his properties.

The Reverend John Nisbet purchased Cliefden from the trustees for ₤1,000 in September 1885.  Nisbet was the Minister at the New Town Congregational Church for an impressive 40 years.  Nisbet died in May 1899 and the property was subsequently put up for auction.  The notice in the newspaper described 'the substantial stone cottage residence … containing 4 rooms, 4 attics, kitchen, pantry, etc., outside washhouse, and sheds.'

Cliefden was purchased by Amily Anderson for ₤770 and she lived there until her death in December 1915 when the property passed to her only daughter, Mary Ainslie Anderson.  Following Mary's death in 1932, Cliefden passed to her cousin, Vivian Turner Grant, who moved down from New South Wales to live there.

In the 1970s a number of units were built at the rear of the property.  Cliefden is now used as offices and is currently occupied by the Tasmanian Police Association.

Main Text & Information Source – Australian Heritage Database

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Cornellian Bay Cottage

This is not the oldest building in the the new colony but it almost certainly was the later farmhouse for the the first enterprise commenced  by Lieutenant Governor Collins within days of his arrival in the Derwent. This was the the cottage at the Government Farm. Collins chose the fertile flats behind the beach at Cornellian Bay because he had to quickly ensure a supply of grain and vegetables to feed his little settlement and to pasture his stock

The Rev Robert Knopwood, the colony's first chaplain would often walk to the farm when it was first established as he recorded in his diary. It originally extended all the way from Self's Point almost up to Cleary's Gate. In 1807, Collins appointed former convict and ex officer Andrew Whitehead to act as its manager. By 1813, Whitehead had marked out a race course on the northern part of the present cemetery site - and so Rev Knopwood had another good reason to visit there far more frequently.

In 1843, an article in the Hobart Town Courier advertised the Government Farm for sale, mentioning 120 acres of land and amongst other building, "a good dwelling house". A map of the area, dated the following year shows no evidence of the present cottage but then again it shows no evidence of any structures at all. The current cottage seems to have been built at some time in the 1840's when the farm was still in operation.

By 1848, the Hobart City Council was having difficulties with the various small cemeteries throughout various parts of town rapidly filling up. After a tussle with various developers who wanted the area for a residential development (Sounds very familiar in the modern era) the council won the battle for the site and it eventually became Hobart's new general cemetery.

It has been the home of the Southern Regional Cemetery Trust since 1987.

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

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The King's Own Inn

Built in 1826 of brick with stone footings, The King's Own Inn has three levels of accommodation , each with its own character & interest. In through the king sized front door, its pretty obvious that the house has true character. The two front living rooms feature many of the little details that are so attractive in older homes. the window's small panes still have the small imperfections in the glass that indicate their age and originality. At the end of a spacious hallway, typically awkward stairs wind up to upstairs bedrooms. The upstairs rooms have been restored and are a study in nooks, crannies and angles throughout. Skylights and dormer windows give a bright and airy feel to the otherwise not overly generous size to the rooms.

Back down stairs in the hallway, a further set of stairs lead to the lowest level of the house. this are is not visible from the street level. This area is a little world of its own. The area features low ceilings, exposed brick and stone and small barred windows make it easy to form a picture of the daily life of the servant classes of the period.

The days activities would have commenced early as the bread oven was prepared for the days baking. The housemaid would be scurrying up and down the the narrow stairs in order to service the needs of the guests, while the cook would be preparing a steaming breakfast. A courtyard would echo to the preparation of the horses for the forthcoming day's travels. the stables  that formed an important part of the Inn's activities still exist and form part of a neighboring house.

Apart from serving spirits and fine meals, the building also served spirituality when, in 1912, the property was bought by the catholic Church to be used as the presbytery for the church's ministers.

The King's Own Inn would have been an exceptionally fine establishment in 1826 and is now a wonderfully restored and preserved private residence. A beautiful reminder of a long bygone era.

Main Text & Information Source - 
"From Black Snake To Bronte" - Book by Audrey Holiday & John Trigg