Heidelberg Historical Society

Scraps of Old Heidelberg History

Part of a letter written by Mr Peter H. Fanning to Miss E.A. Fraser on 2 February 1900 for publication in a series of articles entitled "Scraps of Old Heidelberg History"

Banyule House

Note that these are memories of Mr Peter Fanning, a most interesting local resident. No doubt others will have different information on the subject.

"Dr Martin purchased "Banyule" for £7,500 (in 1867). It was at the time good value for £10,000, but...Mr Graham sold and got his daughter married to Willie Martin, and still the world goes round. I presume you are aware that Mr Hawdon lived at Banyule in a villa before the present conspicuous building was erected. He must have resided there for some time, as the trees and shrubs planted in the garden at the back were well grown before my time.

"Banyule" House was built in 1849. Mr Gill was architect - only half the building shown on the plan was erected. Billy Bloxham's father carted the building materials with bullocks. George Mayger's father worked on the building as a bricklayer.

Dr Martin laid out the Avenue, or approach, to the house. That portion between the two lodges did not originally belong to "Banyule", but to a Mr Verner. The house that I lived so long in (and where Blanchard now lives) was the Verner's residence. Mr Hawdon purchased the property. When Mrs Hawdon died, Mr Hawdon left for England. The estate was marked off into farms and let to tenants. Mr Verner's house, with the paddock around it, was let on a seven year lease to the Government for a police station. There were four or five men there, mounted men, called cadets.

"Banyule" house and paddock was let to, and occupied by, Hugh John Chambers. It appears that there was an understanding between Mr Hawdon and Mr Chambers that the rent was to be spent on improving the property. Mr Chambers had the two lodges built when the gold diggings broke out. The price of wages and material was very high, and when Mr Hawdon returned in 1855, he was surprised and displeased at the cost. Mr Chambers went back to Melbourne. Mr Hawdon, with his new wife, resumed possession of the house and lived there for one year, farming a portion of the ground. I was renting the garden and flat.

Mr Hawdon left for New Zealand. Then came Mr Mitchell; then Mr Pirani, Mr Graham and Dr Youl followed in succession. Mr Graham was there the year of the big flood, December 16, 1863. In 1855, "Rosanna", (often called "Judge Willis's") was a ladies' school, conducted by a lady named Miss Stewart. Mr Vasey came here next, and was afterwards secretary to the Collingwood Gas Company until his death a short time ago. Mr Trenoweth came after Vasey. He too has left. Time makes changes and still the world goes round."

P.H. Fanning.

Banyule has been a site of controversy over many years. Issues have included: