So dawn goes down to day...
The story of Schouten House begins perhaps in 1834, 10 years prior to its construction, with the arrival in Hobart of members of the Champion family, along with a young blacksmith named Samuel Wellard.
William Champion, patriarch of the family, brother to Theresa and father to Esther, had landed in Hobart some ten years prior as a convict, and was in the process of establishing himself as a businessman. A former bellringer in his hometown of Dursley in England, he is credited with much of the effort to obtain and install the bells in Hobart's Holy Trinity Church, and trained the colony's youths in the art of bellringing. He was licensee of The Jolly Hatter in Hobart in 1838.
At what point he relocated to the just established township of Waterloo Point (now Swansea) we are yet to discover, but certainly by 1842 he was purchasing the land on which Schouten House now sits, to construct a replacement for the Traveller's Rest inn at Waterloo Point in which he previously had an interest. His son in law, Frederick William Lewis (husband of Esther), was licensee of both inns, having previously enjoyed a somewhat chequered tenure as licensee of The Clarendon in Murray Street, Hobart and the Coach and Horses, Elizabeth Street, Hobart.
At this time, back in Hobart, Samuel Wellard was well known as a blacksmith in the Glenorchy area, supporting his young family, having married Theresa Champion sometime after their arrival in Hobart. We like to imagine their love blossoming on the voyage from England, but perhaps the families had a connection back in Gloucester. Innkeeping becoming something of the family trade, in 1845 Samuel was successful in becoming the licensee of the Traveller's Rest in Glenorchy (it was a popular name in the day).
It was probably just as well that Samuel cut his teeth as a licensee back in Hobart, as during 1848, Frederick unfruitfully accused an influential local, Robert Makepeace, of stealing a plank of wood worth 2 shillings, and within 6 months had had his license refused. We find no mention of an interim licensee for Swansea Inn, but a little over a year later, in 1850, Samuel transferred his license of the Traveller's Rest in Glenorchy to relocate to Swansea and take over the Champion built inn with Theresa and their young family. Frederick and Esther returned to Hobart, where Frederick was successful in obtaining the license for the City of Norwich hotel on Argyle Street. Sadly, within a short time in 1851, Frederick decided to try his luck in the Victorian goldfields, and died in a cave in. Perhaps craving the stability that Frederick had never offered, Esther quickly remarried.
At the same 1850 hearing in which Samuel Wellard relinquished his license in Glenorchy to relocate to Swansea, a brewer by the name of Thomas Large did the same. It would seem that plans were made in Hobart for Samuel and Theresa to look after the inn here, whilst Thomas established a brewery in the newly constructed rear wing. The Wellards took up residence quickly and happily, whilst it took a little longer for Thomas and his wife, 6 children and the equipment necessary to equip a brewery to make the voyage through Storm Bay and up the East Coast in a no doubt typically windy November.
It is a prominent tale in local history that they did not arrive. The Resolution, the boat on which they had made the voyage, took up anchorage in the bay but for some reason did not fully disembark on arrival. During the night, a storm rose which dragged the ship across the bay some distance, where it could be seen being battered by the waves from the long jetty. With most of the crew on shore, and high winds and seas, retrieval was impossible, and whilst no adult lives were lost, all six of the Large children perished in the arms of those who sought to save them. Thomas and his wife buried their young family in a shared grave in the local cemetery and returned to Hobart. They endured, rebuilt their lives, and soon had another daughter, several descendants of whom have visited the town that holds an important place in their family history. Though the Large family link to the house is only tenuous, and they never arrived or even saw the house as a family, their story is often cited as part of the history of Schouten House, with embellishments over time.
It is not clear whether Samuel continued work on the brewery or whether any significant brewing was done here. We have an original beer bottle from the time, and Cameron loves to imagine the smell of mash and hops in what is now our personal part of the home. There is a gorgeous swing panel door (Jodie's 'Mr Ed' door) which connects the brewery wing to the main house, and it's easy to imagine casks being passed through to the bustle of the inn. It's nice to speculate that Thomas Large's planning saw fruition, and certainly Samuel was competent, energetic and well respected enough to grow his business.
In any case, Samuel and Theresa were pillars of the local community, actively involved in local government, church groups and social activities, until Theresa's death following the birth of their 14th child in 1855. She was 35 years old. The Inn was closed and Samuel returned with his young family to Glenorchy within a few short months, where he died in 1859 aged 47. The expectation of life was certainly different in 19th century Tasmania, although the determination and 'sticktoitness' of the new settlers seems correspondingly immense.
An Electoral Roll from 1856 shows a Patrick Cusick living at the residence of William Champion on Wellington Street, but there follows a period where the house was apparently used for a variety of short term ventures, including a school (we are yet to find evidence), and as a private residence for local doctors, Henry Lovatt (until his death in 1885) and Arthur Naylor (until the early 1890s). It was during this time that it was renamed 'Schouten House' in reference to the prominent landmarks across the bay. It was purchased as a private home in the early 1890s by the lively local spinster, Sarah Mitchell, who owned it until her death in 1938, letting it to a couple named Target (pronounced 'Tar-jay' after the manner of Hyacinth Bucket, if you please) after the turn of the century, and living in it herself in her later years.
Sarah's nephew stayed with us not long after we bought the house in 2006, and shared tales of his larger than life aunt. She was apparently a passionate (if not necessarily gifted) artist who avidly recorded her travels and meaningful events in her life, mounting on an oil cloth a selection of paintings ready to unroll as she regaled others with her tales. She was the first person in the area to own a camera (imagine if she'd lived to own a slide projector!) and the first woman to fly from Tasmania to the mainland. Without a doubt, she was a proud home owner, gun toting rat hater and fascinating woman.
It seems the house languished, largely unused and falling into disrepair, until Savio College in Hobart purchased it during the 1960s as a residence for visiting priests and a holiday residence for students. It persisted in some state of disrepair, much to the delight and imaginations of the students who spent time here. Many have returned with their own families to stay since and enjoyed both the memories, and the significant improvements, in the house since then.
Throughout the 1990's the property was home to a thriving seafood restaurant in the hands of well known Tasmanian chef, Terry Fidler, and his family, and at the same time renovations were undertaken to establish the Bed and Breakfast business. A commercial kitchen was added and the brewery wing fully renovated into a seperate residence.
Since 2006, Cameron and Jodie have owned the house and feel greatly privileged to write a new page (hopefully a whole chapter) in its life. It is a home with a great heart, which has been part of many lives, and we feel we have come to know it well. We have a strong commitment to caring for its past, and preparing for its future, and creating our own legacy here at Schouten House, particularly by establishing a heritage food garden. It is a great gift.