John Pascoe Fawkner: 1813 – 1826
John Pascoe Fawkner, one of the co-founders of the city of Melbourne, was the first owner of the land on which Claremont House resides. Originally part of a 90 acre grant, Faulkner offered the land for sale in 1819 being described as;
That most valuable farm, the property of John Fawkner, jnr. conveniently situated near the New Road leading to New Norfolk from Hobart Town and adjoining the Farm of Mr J Fawkner, snr. in the district of Glenorchy. It consists of 93 acres of Land; 5 of which are cleared, and have been in Cultivation. This farm is well worth the Attention of Persons settling in the Colony, being convenient to land and water carriage, and near a run of good water.
Hobart Town Gazette, p2 December 4, 1819
Henry Bilton 1826 – 1889
Henry Bilton settled in Van Diemen’s Land in 1825 and acquired all of Faulkner’s land in 1826. Bilton used the land for its convenience to his extensive business interests in Hobart town and pastoral interests in the north of the state. Bilton was a member of the Political Association in 1835 and elected to Glenorchy’s first council in 1864. He was warden of the council from 1868 to 1874.
Bilton lived on the property from the late 1840’s. By this time he had built many structures and in the 1848 census it is recorded that he lived in a rendered brick house, with a household of 14 which included 3 convicts and 1 ticket-of-leave holder.
It is believed that the original house was a two storey Georgian residence with two rooms on the ground and two rooms above with a central hallway and staircase. The ground front windows and upstairs doors and frames are from the original fabric of the house. Within the roof cavity, areas of the original shingles remain where they have been roofed over with iron. The external fabric is a rendered struck joint brick to resemble stone.
By 1858, Bilton had increased the land holding of Claremont House to 350 acres, with a property value of 180 pounds, making it one of the most valuable properties in the municipality.
In 1889, Bilton died at the age of 91. He had no children and the 734 acre property was to be subdivided and sold.
One of the most charming spots for a gentleman’s residence in and around Hobart, commanding, as it does, a magnificent and extensive view of the River Derwent, from the Elwick Racecourse to Bridgewater, and the hills from Mount Direction to the Dromedary, including the Coign, Constitution Hill and table Mountain in the distance, as also the agricultural districts of Old beach, green Point, Brighton, etc
…all cedar fittings inside, exclusive of ballroom, two kitchens, pantry, storeroom, besides workshops, large barn, six stall stable , hay loft, coach house, meat house, shearing sheds, cowshed, men’s hut, etc. there is also a productive garden of about two acres.
The Mercury, p3, December 16, 1889.
At auction, all separate lots of land were bought as one by Frank Bond, a bank merchant and Parliamentarian.
At the time that Bond bought the land, it included the site late to become the location of the Cadbury-Fry-Pascal factory. Bonds contribution to the evolution of the house included the Italianate tower, which was a popular form of the late Victorian period and the billiards room behind the drawing room. He built the iron gates at the bottom of the drive with two pedestrian gates on either side. A remaining single post from the original gates still remains on Main road.
Albert Flexmore acquired the property from Bond in 1897. Little is known about Flexmore’s ownership and if any, development of the property. Flexmore was a man of wealth, serving on the committee for the Tasmanian Racing Club and the Royal Agricultural Society. He entertained the Hobart Hunt Club at Claremont House in 1902. Flexmore is responsible for the division of the land, one section which he gave to the Anglican Church for the construction of St. Albans Church.
Kathleen Brock: 1911-1919
At 21 years of age, Kathleen Brock purchased the property from Flexmore in June 1911. Claremont House and property at the time was a parcel of 53 acres. Kathleen lived at the property with her sister Dora until her marriage to Captain Otway Cottrell-Dormer.
During her tenure, a number of structural changes took place at the house. Moving the front door and external staircase and enclosing the end verandas, removing the wall between the central hall and drawing room and laying down a new floor throughout the front rooms for dancing.
Kathleen, from a very wealthy family background, was a very sociable person. Newspapers report on a number of social events at the house, including afternoon teas, tennis parties and fundraising picnics. A garden party in 1912 was in aid of raising money for a new church and a café Chantant in 1916 to raise money for the Active Service Fund and the Seamen’s Mission. Over 250 people, including soldiers from Claremont Camp, enjoyed billiards, dancing, bridge and supper in a marquee.
During the years 1918-1919, the Cottrell-Dormers divided and sold up much of the property of Claremont House. A cottage was built on the back for the chauffeur brought out from England. The division of the land marked the beginning of Claremont’s residential development. Blocks were sold to purchasers who established housing, shops and garages. The development of the Cadbury-Fry-Pascal factory on a former section of the property of Claremont House consolidated the districts changing nature.
Alice and Joe Darling: 1919-1940
The Darlings bought Claremont House and the 32 acres of land on which it now stood. Joe Darling, Australia’s most successful batsman and longest serving Test Cricket Captain until the great Sir Don Bradman, and his wife Alice had a large family of fourteen. They occupied the property until 1940 and were responsible for only a few changes to the house. The upstairs verandah was enclosed. They demolished the stables, using the timber to build a shearing shed at their property Stonehenge near Oatlands. The coach house was used as a garage with room for 6 cars and had a pit for mechanical work and a cellar. Electricity was connected at the property during their time and an electric stove was purchased for Alice to cook on. Joe was elected to the Tasmanian Legislative Parliament in 1921 and remained a member until he died after a gall bladder operation on January 2, 1946.
The Darlings did not entertain as much as the Cottrell-Dormers, but the house was used in the 1920’s for a wedding reception for the manager of the Agricultural Bank. It was reported that guests arrived by train and car and were invited to pick roses from the extensive gardens.