Travels with Tim and Lisa

"If my discoveries are other people's commonplaces I cannot help it – for me they retain a momentous freshness" (Elizabeth Bowen)

Norfolk Island Museums #2 June 26th, 2018

Posted by Lisa Hill on June 28, 2018

I’m catching up on touristy things that we did two days ago because we spent yesterday doing more energetic explorations and when we got back to the cottage there was a really good book that I just had to finish reading.  (See anzlitlovers.com/We Are Not Most People.  I’m drafting this offline, so I haven’t got the URL)

So…

No 10 Quality Row is called the House Museum, because it’s been restored and refurbished as an authentic 2nd Settlement house for one of the officers.  (The 2nd settlement lasted from 1825-1855).  No 10 was built in 1844 as a residence for the (very busy) Foreman of Works, Thomas Seller.  He lived here with his manservant William Jenkins while supervising the building of the other residences, but before the house was built he lived in a wattle-and-daub hut.

Seller, a free settler who arrived in Sydney in 1833) had a wife and two children, but he came here to Norfolk Island in 1839 without them.  Having read some accounts of how women were distressed by the treatment of convicts in the penal colony on Van Dieman’s Land (now Tasmania), I can guess why she stayed in Sydney with the children.  I’m not at all convinced by the signage’s claim that by the time the Orfords family took up residence,  life was so far removed from the hardships and cruelty occurring just down the road that ladies sitting on the verandah to do their needlework were oblivious to it all.

One of Seller’s pastimes was painting, and his ‘Kingston from Flagstaff Hill’ is still hanging in the bedroom.  The other interesting feature is the trapdoor between the beds.  What was that for, I wonder?

During the Third Settlement, heralded by the arrival of the community from Pitcairn Island in 1856, the house was home to Isaac Young and his wife and 15 children. (Goodness only knows where they put them all!) They lived in the house till the early 1880s, and then a Methodist minister called Phelps moved in.  They called it the Faith Home of Norfolk Island, and converted 100 C of E believers to Methodism.  It reverted to C of E custodianship after that until the murky politics of Norfolk Island governance intervened. Since (despite the best efforts of assorted tour guides) I am sooooo not interested in that, (and neither are other tourists who say they are also sick of it) – suffice to say that this house and all the other buildings on this world heritage site now belong to the Commonwealth Government of Australia.  (And presumably, the restorations were done under their auspices.)

 

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4 Responses to “Norfolk Island Museums #2 June 26th, 2018”

  1. Robyn Watters said

    I have the same captain’s chair that I use in my study. Even down to the hand hole to move the chair. Mine, I understand, was used in the family business nearly 100 years ago. We had the seat of it replaced as that’s the bit that gets worn out of course. I love the recessed china shelving. I’m surprised how cold it is, Tim is wearing a pullover.

  2. A propos of my comment on your last post re household artefacts, same for house museums. They are my favourite museums of all. So much nicer to see objects and artefacts in situ, where that’s possible. (Of course not all museum objects belong to houses!)

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