Sunday, 5 May 2013

Hanworth The History - The Heaths Part II

I know that if Hyacinth Bucket of "Keeping up Appearances" were given half a chance, she would have simply jumped at the opportunity to host one of her "candlelight suppers" in the HH ballroom!

And so say I!  I thought it was time for me to seek inspiration from Hyacinth, and continue the history of the Heaths  at Hanworth House (I promised you their story would be continued!).

And why on earth can I see the connection?  Because, like Hyacinth, George Poynter Heath and his wife Elizabeth loved to entertain. On the basis of this point alone, the Heaths and I must surely be related! 

As you know, if you have been paying attention,  HH has played hostess to a wide variety of social occasions in the last 4 action packed months:

There have been impromptu gatherings of friends on the front lawn:

There have been the ever celebrated Fridays at Four events (and sometimes - don't tell anyone- PA HH and I just throw our own intimate gathering and don't invite anyone at all!)

We have actioned beers with the builder boys

This shot was taken on the Friday after the fire when, exhausted, we just all collapsed after the massive clean up effort.

We have actioned significant champagne consumption (often the only reason we need to do so is simply because we have a pulse!)

I have entertained the lovely past school mums (and we strategised how we might all move into HH in our old age and what talents each of us might bring! It was fun!)

We have worked with the film crew  to capture the highs and lows of returning the Green Lady to glory:

 and, of course, we had our first official evening affair de-spiriting the house early this year:

So this house was obviously meant to be social and to be shared.  So it must be hereditary I think as I have learnt that the Heaths did not shy away from showing off their ballroom either. Many an article has been written about how the Heath's  "large home at Norman Creek was the venue for many gay social gatherings"

The Queenslander (Thursday 22 May 1930 p7) has the following quaint snippet written about their social gatherings.
"Their hospitality was reputedly lavish... As was customary with the prominent residents in old Brisbane, Captain Heath and his wife held enjoyable social gatherings in their big home, to which the guests hied [went swiftly]  in carriages, gigs, and dogcarts, and some on horse-back."

I know I have already recounted the story I love about their oldest daughter Cecelia Georgina marrying John L Marx (commander of HMS Swinger) on 13 April 1886 at St Mary's Church Kangaroo Point.

St Mary's Kangaroo Point at about that time

But I'm telling it again ! They were married by noone less than the Bishop of Brisbane (as you do!)  and were returned to Hanworth in a carriage drawn by a "large number of blue jackets from the Swinger and other warships in port".

The HH Ballroom hosted the reception which was attended by the Governor Sir Anthony and Lady Musgrave,  Premier Sir Samuel and and Mrs Griffith, Colonial Treasurer Sir James Dickinson, and the Auditor- General William Drew .

That gives me an idea - would Penny and Campbell, Tim and Jarrod come to HH's 150th birthday do you think next year? I will put them on the potential guest list! Of course they would have to dress up!

I was so excited when I found this picture of Penny with a teapot - look!


Is this not a sign ? See the spirits really are alive and kicking! If you have not read the post about the return of the teapot do it now! You simply must!

So is Penny not simply perfect? A lovely follower told me recently that I should have the teaport as the emblem for HH.  I am sure Penny is holding its twin! Surely a sign she must take up the position of Patroness HH (I am sure she is dying for just one more organisation to be patron of!)

My teapot is currently sitting on the black marble fireplace - the same fireplace which would have been in the dining room when Cecilia and John arrived at their reception. Here is the notice of the wedding in the wedding column "Marriages in High Life" 1881 - I guess this was the equivalent of today's U on Sunday's "Weddings and Babies" regular spread!

The Heaths lived at HH for nearly 25 years. Our George retired from his position of Portmaster of Queensland on 30 June 1890 due to ill health and returned to England soon after. However, Hanworth remained in this family's possession for many more years and was leased out.

It was said that George lived quietly on his pension at South Kensington, London, and died on 26 March 1921(aged 90). His wife Elizabeth apparently died in 1893 soon after their return to England. How sad!

The had quite the brood of 9 children.  They all had superior names - Cecilia Georgina (b. 16 May 1861 d. 19 November 1930 at Clatford lodge Andover Hampshire England), Ethel Mary (b.1863), girl unnamed (b1865 died), Twin boys George Reginald Innes and Charles Edward Innes (b.1866), Beatrice Gertude (b.1868),  Herbert Charles Selwyn (b.1869), Everlyn Elizabeth Lester (b.1871) and Vivian Alice Marie (b.1874).

I intend to name each of the rooms at HH after significant women who either lived there or were important to those who did, so I am going to start with the 5 Heath girls, their mother Elizabeth, Miss HH and New Niece HH - a perfect number to fill the West Wing which has exactly 8 rooms!

This is New Niece HH (Madeleine Mae) - we love her to bits.

Not only for the fact she is gorgeous, but also because she is the first girl born since Miss HH (who is 18 but has a birthday this week!) -  that gap of 18 years makes her extra special. And, in a somewhat significant and poignant gesture, she was born almost 9 months to the day since we lost her grandmother (my beautiful Mamma HH).  So niece HH deserves a room bestowed in her honour too despite the fact she has no idea of what this whole story is about!

I'm thinking of a room like this - here is "the before shot":

and here is "the after shot"!

But I will write about the whole fascinating journey of the room next time and take you behind the scenes so you can re-live with me each step of the way. I know, I am so excited I am on the edge of my seat too!

For now, I say good bye to Hanworth the History  - The Heaths Part II.  We owe old George and Liz our debt of gratitude.  Had they used timber and not handmade bricks to build the Great Lady we might not have had her standing today after the fire. How fortunate for us that milled timber was so hard to get.  And how fortunate there is still the sturdy foundations of a house to work with to repair and get it back to the lavish social and entertaining hub it always was.

But don't fret -  the history is not quite told yet.  How it went from a home to hospice is a whole new chapter - but not for today.

Sleep tight

x HH


  1. Thanks again HH for another entertaining read. It's incredible to think of Brisbane 'behaving' in such a way....and right there on Lytton Road East Brisbane! May the life continue long into the future! Love the shot of Penny! Looking forward to the next installment. x

    1. Thank you unknown for commenting! And yes I agree - it was such an apt shot of Penny - as if she knew!

  2. Love the idea of naming the rooms after significant woman, good plan!

  3. Oh thanks leonie. I thought it would be a nice touch and I thought I could do a board in each room describing who they are and why they were important to the house. Too much?

  4. NO it's a great idea, would make for interesting reading & adds a lovely touch of character to the rooms.

  5. Excellent - joint decision then. Approved! Thanks for your input!