Sunday, 12 July 2015

Undine

Some of the Norfolk islanders who were forcibly re-settled in Van Diemens Land in 1808 were a disgruntled lot, but there is nothing to suggest that John & Hannah Beresford were amongst them. They had to wait for five years for a grant of land on the Derwent River, just north of O'Briens Bridge where Undine was built, but they had some other positive things to look forward to in the short term - like the double wedding just five weeks after their arrival in Hobart Town when their son, Joseph and daughter Dorothy, were married by the Rev. Robert Knopwood to Mary Ann Levitson and George Oakley respectively. Later on, after receiving their grant, further contentment came from its excellent barley harvests, so good that they were reported in the Hobart Town Gazette in Dec 1816 and then again 1817.

Sadly John Beresford did not have long to develop and enjoy his land because he died in 1821, some time after the first part of Undine was constructed. This is the right hand section of the house which deceptively gives the impression of a single storey house, but which is in reality a three storey affair because of the fall of the land.

The house was on the main road to Launceston and by 1834 had been licensed as a coaching inn. Nine years later, it was no longer known as Undine but was owned by a new owner, Mrs Stevens, who by Feb 1842 was advertising the building as Rosetta Cottage and was running a Seminary for Young Ladies which was limited to 12 young ladies. Mrs Stevens and her husband, Sylvester Stephen Stanford Stevens, maintained the house as a girl's school for another 6 years before it once again became a private home.

Like so many notable old Hobart homes, Undine now stands on only a fraction of the orginal grant. From the large bay window in the upstairs area, you can see over the roofs of the surrounding houses to where the Undine land originally ended at the edge of the waters of the Derwent River. The first land lopping began in the 1870's when the land above the house was sold to the new railway. The taller, left hand addition to the house was constructed in the 1890's.

Undine was a coaching inn before Queen Victoria came to the throne and it still caters for the weary traveller to this day in its role as a colonial guest house.. It has features that John & Hannah Beresford could never have dreamed of but has retained much of its early 19th century charm. Much of the internal wood is original with dark wood panels downstairs and a sturdy Georgian stairway leading upstairs to bedrooms combining 19th century atmosphere with 21st century warmth.

Main Text & Information Source - 
:"Mansions, Cottages & All Saints" - Audrey Holiday & Walter Eastman

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