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STAFFORDSHIRE HOUSE MARION VILLA

1 . MARION VILLA .George Town. 2.STAFFORDSHIRE HOUSE 56 Charles St., Launceston.

Inspired by local Tamanian researcher, I am upgrading the data on the residences of JAMES COX of Clarendon. James Cox arrived in Launceston and forthwith went on a hunting expedition with his friend Thomas Archer of Woolmers, Longford. This was the land, that he received as a grant, a short time later and where he built his home "Clarendon". While fears for the safety of his wife Mary (Connell) and children were ever-present, James looked to the town, while "Clarendon" Estate was being developed. James received this original grant of land c.1826 for a town residence (56 Charles Street), where he also traded as a merchant. James, later became, the Member for Morven (Evandale) and had a keen interest in horse racing. He raced one of his own horses in the first race meeting in 1824. By 1819 he supplied meat to George Town by his whale boat. He was assigned prisoners to work for him and was appointed to act as a Justice of the Peace in 1818.

From a leaflet produced by the National Trust of Tasmania, we read that "Staffordshire House" was purchased by the Trust in 1967 - making it some 30 years ago in 2003. They acknowledged that "This Georgian Merchants House" is thought to be the only remaining Regency building of its kind still standing in Australia. It was built in Regency Style, stuccoed brick shop and dwelling, on his land around 1833 or earlier. A multi-paned shop front is a feature of the facade, including Ionic timber pilasters and entablature. It is a lovely example of early architecture in Charles Street.

The Launceston City Council supported the National Trust of Tasmania in the purchase of the "Staffordshire House" for restoration & preservation. This was done and the property has filled the needs of many different fields of education or occupation. The details are hard to determine but, some time in late 1930's Alexander Stewart became the owner, where he resided and continued in his trade.

Around 1835, while "Clarendon" was still being built, the house was occupied by Mr.J.A.Denham, who traded in all kinds of merchandise, indicative of those pioneering days. On building his own place close by, Mr.Denham purchased "Staffordshire House" from Alexander Stewart. Denham continued to lease the house, after it was sold to John Cameron. A family of Millers came from Hobart and maintained ownership of "Staffordshire House" for another 116 years. While in Launceston recently, we took a few photos as you can see on a previous page of this site.

The newspaper "Cornwall Chronicle" leased the property for their offices in the 1850's. This newspaper continued in that place under various managers/owners until about 1880 when it was the 'Examiner'. "Staffordshire House" was gazetted as a "House and Auction Mart" in 1880. Another of our family members Michael Connolly who married Rachael Emily Bostock, was familiar with this part of town, as Michael with James Cox and others, were members of Cornwall Bank. Michael also was No.15 of the Port Phillip Association which held meetings in Michael's store, adjoining his brewery, situated cnr. Cimitiere & St.John Streets. Michael crossed Bass Strait around 1835, as did so many other Tasmanians, to seek out 'greener pastures'.

Education became the important issue for the people of Launceston. Keith Jackson King, with links to our Bostock family also conducted a school in Launceston. Edward Nathan, husband of Mary King, founded the private High School, Milton Hall, which subsequently merged with Lauceston Grammar School in 1913. S.Strode Henri became Principal of the new "City School" in "Staffordshire House", while her husband Henry was Headmaster. As a Frenchman, Henry spoke five languages. Adult evening classes, were also held at "Staffordshire House".

Mr.& Mrs.J.M.Cunningham became the owners of the house by 1887 and it is thought they still held ownership in 1893. "Staffordshire House" again, had new residents as Mr.F.Jackson and his family, who it seems, was a trustworthy and reliable locksmith. This continued until about 1924 when they moved to other premises. Mr.& Mrs Pierce conducted an agent's business for some time, before various others resided there. Mr.Robert Ferguson operated as a wholesale merchant in "Staffordshire House, prior to the National Trust purchasing the historic property. The property has been remembered by some, as "Ferguson's Warehouse". A plaque on the front wall of the building, aligned with the footpath, tells of it's importance to Launceston and to architecture..

I am indeed grateful to the National Trust for the research required, to present these names and historical data, relating to "Staffordshire House". Thelma Birrell

MARION VILLA (aka) MARINE VILLA

I am taking this opportunity to expand on my earlier web page in this site. The 1871 Assessment had it noted as "Marine Villa". It is well known that JAMES COX bought this land from Lieut.Matthew Curling Friend R.N. on which to build a seaside residence for his family. Matthew Friend had also built The Grove and Newnham Hall in the Launceston region. James held "Marion Villa" on 55 acres at Low Head, along with an acre at George Town. The house was for sale in 1992 and again I suspect, in the 21st century. Built of stuccoed brick, like "Staffordshire House" and painted white, it has a basement for cellars, surrounded by a moat, allowing light to enter the lower part of the building. Built c.1828 with iron hipped roof, it was single storey dwelling, plus a basement. The feature of the front of the house, facing the Tamar River, is two large bay windows. The side entrance has a portico with pilasters, along with a door, enhanced by two-panel leaves and sidelights. Adding to the charm of the home, is an unusual fanlight. All the Cox buildings of that era, had high ceilings (?14') with ornate plaster work in the construction. The original timber doors and architraves can still be seen. All the windows have 15 panes and are set in recessed panels. "Clarendon" and Bostock's "Vaucluse" has similar construction with windows recessed and with great shutter panels, for extra security during the time of bushranger menacing. Of course, after all these years, the area of land has been scaled down to about 2 hectares, but still maintains a wide beachfront on the Tamar River. The sandy beaches were firm apparently and the family were able to ride their horses along the shoreline.

Many years ago I bought a booklet, comprising the writings of James & Eliza's daughter Cornelia Cox b.1844 and wife of John Innes. She wrote and I quote "Every summer we spent two or three months at a pretty seaside residence that my father had built called Marion Villa 40 miles from Launceston, small steamers taking passengers each week. We had a good sandy bathing place, just beyond the garden, and a fine rowing boat in which we went for many a picnic and excursions with friends. One of our amusements was collecting shells and pressing seaweeds (call us not weeds, we are flowers of the sea.) Now I am an old lady and I often smile when thinking of the simple pleasures we used to enjoy, how young people of the present day would laugh at them, we also had a horse and bush car, so could go for drives." end quote- Cornelia Innes (nee Cox)

This is a great haven/resting place for the family, while travelling to and from "Clarendon", after leaving or boarding vessels for visits to family in New South Wales or Victoria. Although in disrepair in 2003 "Marion Villa" is situated on a beautiful bend of the Tamar River and in the right hands, could be beautifully restored. It is about 3 kilometers from George Town and much further from Launceston.

It is well known that James had a large six oared whale boat moored at "Marion Villa". The family shared many happy times on the river fishing, rowing or picnicking, while spending holidays there. Sometimes they would row across to the west bank of the Tamar River to visit friends and were known to picnic with the Henty Families. The Manifold Family lived at Kelso (property name) also on the western bank of the river. The Manifold brothers, John, Peter and Thomas, along with others, led the way to the Western District of Victoria. The Manifold family have many common links with the Bostock and other settler families who pioneered Tasmania and the Western District of Victoria.

In his Will, that I have in hand, James Cox left "Marion Villa" to his wife Eliza Cox, to revert to his daughter Eliza on her mother Eliza Cox's decease. Eliza Cox d/o James and Eliza(nee Collins) went to live at "Marion Villa" following the death of her father James Cox in 1866 and her mother Eliza Cox in 1869. Eliza, like her parents, was an enterprising woman and traces of where she grew rock oysters, after obtaining a licence to do so, can still be seen. When Eliza, aged 47, married in 1877 to Rev.John Coupland Dixon, "Marion Villa" was sold to John Hill who resided there until his death in 1888. Rev.John Dixon and Eliza lived and worked in the parish of Windemere "St.Matthias" Anglican Church. What a wonderful, scenic setting for a place of worship. Eliza Cox is laid to rest in the churchyard at beautiful Windemere, which also sits on the bank of the picturesque Tamar River..

Lorraine Wooton has happily posted me some new data on "Marion Villa". With the help of Peter Cox, President of George Town District Historical Society, some old papers found by Diane Phillips and Chlo Martin, have shed a little more light on the subject. I am grateful for all who helped to tell the true story of the pioneers, for those of a future generation.

QUOTE:- Ref: Letter from MATTHEW CURLING FRIEND to JOHN CLARK 23rd June 1839.(Clark Family Papers UTA, RS8/B21, B52) states that "Mr.Cox has commenced building in ernest - and the town has been very busy. There is no talk of any great changes. Davies is getting on very quietly. Mrs.Moriarty is in good bodily health, but is not better of rheumatism."end quote.

On 23.5.1840 (same reference B21, B55)states: "I am selling of my George Town land and have built several new houses among our new residents or rather Villa allotment owners - between George Town and the Heads are COX, LANDALE, Mr.RICHARDSON, Thomas ARCHER, Wm.ARCHER, Mr.ASTON?, YOUL, UNDERWOOD, J.A.EDDIE, J.R.KENWORTHY, and some others. Therefore our neighbourhood is formed and the frontage nearly all taken up." Sent to me by Lorraine Wootton of Launceston...Thanks.

"TIME is a PRECIOUS JEWEL. IT MUST be GUARDED WELL and WORN with DISCRETION or you will SUDDENLY REALISE that it has been STOLEN." Glen Bland.U.S.A.

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Thelma & Matthew at mrbirrell@virginbroadband.com.au