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History Corner: Wirksworth House, Howrah

By Reg A. Watson

 

THEY don’t make them like that anymore.

A beautiful mansion house, once a private home to the Featherstone family now used by the Education Department.

It is one of those buildings seen by thousands of people daily and no doubt admired, but few would know its history.

The house was built in 1888 by Hobart solicitor Charles Edwin Featherstone for his family, consisting of his wife Georgina Popstring, four daughters and a son.

The house consisted of seven upstairs bedrooms, with the home designed to be well ventilated and with hot and cold water.

The architect Robert Huckson and many artisans involved, with their wives, were entertained to a feast and entertainment, including dancing, in appreciation on 19 May 1888.

Not all went smoothly for Mr Feathersone.

Five years later he had been taken to court by two ladies over missing monies.

It was also claimed that he took from his own legal office the sum of 86 pounds.

As a result, he was struck off the law list and an arrest warrant was issued against him for “embesslement”.

Charles was also a Member of the House of Assembly from 1887-1893 and soon disappeared after that date.

We know that he was born in Tasmania in 1852, but his death date and last resting place remains a mystery.

It is unsure what happened to him, but he was never apprehended.

After his demise, the home was purchased by Charles Henry Grant, who had supervised the construction of the Hobart-Launceston railway.

After the last war, it was “surrendered to the Crown.”

The opening ceremony for Clarence High School was held there in 1959.