Originally known as Green Point it is likely that Bridgewater was named as a simple description of the causeway which was built across the shallow section of the river. Construction commenced in 1829. By any measure the Causeway was a remarkable achievement. 1.3 km long, it was built by a workforce of 200 convicts who had been condemned to secondary punishment. These convicts, using nothing but wheelbarrows, shovels and picks and sheer muscle power, shifted 2 million tonnes of soil, stones and clay. It is said that the punishment for not doing a full day's work was to be sentenced to solitary confinement in a cell which was only 2 m high and 50 cm square.
Upon completion of the causeway, a ferry or punt operated across the deep section of the river. The first bridge at this point across the Derwent was opened in 1849 and the town, which had been laid out on the southern side of the river, was moved (down to the last surveying detail) to the northern bank. It is still possible to see the original town plan near the Old Watch House. The settlement on the southern side of the river was originally known as South Bridgewater but is now known as Granton.
In 1883 Hannah died.
The Elwin Siblings
When researching a family, it is always interesting to discover some of the many aspects of their lives that they were involved with.
His brother Edwin Elwin became a solicitor in Dover, and married and had a family.
Among his sons was Arthur Elwin.
Arthur Elwin married Mary Jacob.
Arthur was Louisa's first cousin.
Arthur became a Missionary, and among his postings was to China. A brave man, who took his wife with him. They lived in China for quite some time, and to assist with the children Rev Arthur Elwin, brought a young lady from Dover.
That young lady was herself the daughter of a Cleric.
One wonders what would make a young girl travel to China in 1875?
She however was no stranger to the devotion and life of a missionary.
Perhaps she never expected to meet her future husband in such a remote outpost as it was in Haung Chow at the time.
But she did. They married, and were expecting a baby. Their son was born in 1882, and unfortunately she died shortly after.
Her husband returned from China, and lived in London, where his sister brought up his son. Later he rejoined the Ministry and was sent to Palestine. There he discovered some amazing archaeological structures.
His son by now a young 19 year old, handsome man, joined the British Army and as his father purchased his commission, he went to South Africa in the Boer War as a Lieutenant.
But not all stories have a happy ending. He decided to steal over £2,500 of the soldiers pays and entitlements. That didn't go down to well, and he was court martialled, and cashiered out of the army.
From there he boarded a ship, and came to Australia. He was the son of an aristocrat, and he, so the story goes, decided to become a jackaroo in Western Queensland.
While there he met a young lady. Of all things that lady was none other than Robert and Elizabeth's great grand-daughter.
What does all this have to do with Rev Arthur Elwin? Well the governess who went to China, was his mother. Her name was Ellen Dumerge Jennings, and her husband was Rev. James Henry Sedgwick.
He on the other hand, decided to live a life of deception. He was, he insisted Claude Jennings Annesley. That story remained as it was for over 100 years, the family none the wiser as to their real ancestry.
That was until his grand-daughter-in-law broke through a brick wall. He was Harold Jennings Sedgwick. He married Katie Isabelle Jillett, and he was the grandfather of the Herron children.
In the Cadbury Library at the Birmingham University, there is stored in
numerous drawers and filing cupboards, thousands and thousands of loose leaf
sheets of paper. Letters, written way
back in 1880, on rice paper from China.
In amongst those papers are many letters, reports and suchlike all
written by Rev Arthur Elwin.
By absolute fluke, these letters two of thousands in one box, revealed why Ellen Jennings went to China. Daughter of Rev Peter Jennings, himself a missionary.
He had "form". He did however leave a huge gap in the historical background of his descendants, by his actions. It is not easy telling a family that they are "not who they think they are".
While he masqueraded as another person, one whose identity he stole, from a fellow soldier in the Boer War. He did, enlist in World War I and he returned.
He perhaps did not fool everyone, as Edwin Elwin's legal practice were writing letters to him in 1915. They had his address and they knew his new identity, the question remains though, what was in those letters that they wrote to him from Dover?
Shortly after receiving them, he vanished, and in 1928 went to New Zealand, and bigamously married twice more. He died a lonely old man, and one who denied his family the truth of their existence.
Six degrees of separation?
There is more.
Clergy in China 1906
William Stephen Jacob (1813–1862) was an English astronomer, director of the Madras Observatory from 1848 to 1859. His early claim of 1855 to have detected an exoplanet, in orbit around 70 Ophiuchi, is now thought to have been mistaken. After Jacob's arrival at Bombay in 1831, he spent some years with the Great trigonometrical survey in the North-West Provinces, and established a private observatory at Pune in 1842. Bad health meant he took sick leave at the Cape of Good Hope. He became assistant to Andrew Scott Waugh, but again fell ill. In 1843 he went back to England on furlough, married in 1844, and returned in 1845 to India, but left the Company's service on attaining the rank of captain in the Bombay engineers.
Jacob concentrated on science, and was appointed in December 1848 director of the Madras Observatory. In poor health, he was sent home on sick leave in 1854–5, and again in 1858–9. A transit-circle by William Simms arrived from England in March 1858, a month before he finally left the observatory, resigning on 13 October 1859.
For the solar eclipse of July 18, 1860, Jacob joined the official expedition to Spain aboard the steamer Himalaya. His project of erecting a mountain observatory at Pune was funded by parliament in 1862. He engaged to work there for three years with a 9-inch equatorial, his own purchase from Noël Paymal Lerebours, and landed at Bombay on 8 August, but died on reaching Pune on 16 August 1862, aged 48. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1849.
Glen Derwent Historical LinksFrom the Website
It was during the property’s life as “Elwin’s Hotel” that it became home, for two and a half years, to its most famous inhabitant – the Irish aristocrat and revolutionary, William Smith O’Brien, following his release from Port Arthur.
Smith O’Brien was the leader of the failed Irish uprising and rebellion in 1848. For his part in the rebellion, he was exiled to Van Diemen’s Land but being part of the educated aristocracy and a former member of the British Parliament, he was not treated as an ordinary convict, more as a political exile. In his book The Great Shame, Thomas Keneally describes Smith O’Brien as “the Mandela of his age”. Smith O’Brien spent some time at Maria Island, then Port Arthur for a few months, then came his time at Glen Derwent, where he rented a room (the current Green Room) with adjoining lounge for £6 per month. Although still a convict and in exile, he was permitted by the authorities to roam the district.
In 1850 Robert Armstrong was having financial problems and sought to sell both “Elwin’s Hotel” and “Bingfield”.
A Century of the Downie FamilyWilliam and Mary Downie purchased Elwin’s Hotel in 1854, renamed it “Glen Derwent” to reflect their Scottish heritage, and the Downie family successfully farmed the land and lived in the house for the next 106 years. To this day, descendants of the Downies continue to have pastoral interests in the Derwent Valley.
Glen Derwent and hop fields (with Valleyfield behind) from New Norfolk 1880. Portion of photograph at LINC.
During the Downie family’s time, Glen Derwent was an extensive hop farm, with the hop kiln being built in 1870. Other evidence of the property’s hop growing past is in the large cast iron gate valves that can be seen in paddocks, and closer to the house near the mulberry tree next to the tennis court. In the western paddock on the southern end, a slightly raised bank can be seen running between the valves. This was to retain the water for the flood irrigation of the hop fields. The open channel beside the tennis court carried water, pumped up from the river. As the hop industry declined after the Second World War, The Downies gradually changed to dairy farming, and parts of the land were sold. The property once extended over the highway and included land that is now the New Norfolk Golf Club.
“A VISIT TO NEW NORFOLK.” The Mercury 28 February 1870 describes Glen Derwent’s operations, including the construction of the Hop Kiln.
The property of W. Downie, Esq. About thirteen acres of ground in this estate are under hop-cultivation, the greater part of which is looking very healthy. Picking has been commenced amongst the young hops, and upwards of eighty persons are employed in the work. The ground is well irrigated from tho Derwent by tho employment of a powerful steam engine capable of pumping 700 gallons per minute. Considerable outlay has been entered into by Mr. Downie during tho past two years in bringing the property to what might almost be called a state of perfection. Upwards of 400 yards of cast iron pipes are laid down through the ground, and the water reticulates through them to nearly every part of tho estate. Just on the point of completion is also a large substantial stone kiln for the drying of hops. The kiln is constructed on the ordinary principle, and the furnace is built so as to secure the greatest economy of heat, and at the same time to avoid too rapid drying, a very essential point to be observed in the preparation of hops for the market. The kiln measures 24 foot square, and is capable of drying 650 bushels at a time, whilst the dimensions of the cooling room are 42 feet by 21 feet.”
In 1961 the property was sold to the Oakley family who ran the property as a dairy, with part of the house converted to flats, until the property was put up for sale in July 1989.
RenewalMalcolm and Barbara Lewena purchased the property in 1989 and immediately commenced restoration and conversion of Glen Derwent to once again provide accommodation. Work on the Main House, Tank Cottage and Master’s Stable was completed in 1990. The restoration was consistent with the colonial craftsmanship and methodology used in the construction of Glen Derwent. Their son Stuart recalled chipping in stripping back all of the red cedar doors, some of which were unfortunately repainted by later owners.
The Lewenas added to the already extensive landscaping around the house, including rose gardens around the circular drive and between the house and the road, and deepening of the natural “billabong” to create a more permanent ornamental pond. Some compromise was required for modern practicalities, since the Regency period was not known for such luxuries as bathrooms with hot and cold running water. In total, 38 trades persons and sub-contracting firms were involved with 15,000 man hours spent “on site”.
Carol and Stan Durkin purchased the property in December 2002 and ran it as a successful bed and breakfast until they sold it in 2009. Glen Derwent once again became a private residence but the owners were unable to keep up with the maintenance, and once again the buildings became run down and the garden overgrown with the loss of many of the rose bushes and some major trees. The speed and density with which assorted noxious plant can grow at Glen Derwent in only a few seasons are testimony to the fertility of the soil!
The Current RestorationRob and Liz Virtue purchased Glen Derwent in November 2016 and have begun to once again restore the house, outbuildings and grounds to their former glory. Along with more prosaic works, such as updating fire safety and hot water systems, restoration has included removing carpets and exposing the original, albeit somewhat paint-spattered, pit-sawn floorboards, held down by hand-forged iron nals. Ongoing works include once again re-stripping and polishing the red cedar and Huon pine joinery and restoring rooms to their original colour schemes.
The initial works in the gardens started with clearing the waist-high grass, hemlock and blackberry. This work has been akin to an archaeological dig exposing Incan ruins. Hidden beneath the overgrowth were old sandstone steps and retaining walls, some dating back to the original convict construction, and later pathways, ponds and iris beds planted by the Lewenas and Durkins.
A decidedly non-Georgian and little-used swimming pool set in to one side of the front lawn has been removed and replaced by a parterre garden, more in keeping with Regency aesthetics. This has been planted with annuals and roses to complement the slowly recovering remnants of the formerly extensive rose gardens.