ESKGROVE GARDEN is fundamentally a dedication to the history and heritage of Hanworth House. In this peaceful and semi-private space, the successive ownerships of Hanworth House are permanently honoured by a path of engraved bluestone pavers. It leads from the stairs, around the Frangipani tree and finishes at the rear of the garden near a garden seat – a worthy place for quiet contemplation of this magnificent Home. The wonderfully restored original frontage of Hanworth House is easily admired from here.
By following the trail of ownership, an inspiring story of pioneering work, philanthropy and personal fortitude unfolds, leaving the question hanging: “Does this glorious Home, Hanworth, truly have a Heart of Her own?”
This Garden has been named ESKGROVE GARDEN to honour one of Brisbane’s oldest homes, “Eskgrove”. The sandstone house was built for former Sydney bank manager Archibald Hutchinson, who purchased the land and built the home in 1853. It is situated in the street between Lytton Road and the river, called Laidlaw Parade. Captain George Poynter Heath and his growing family rented “Eskgrove”, living there from at least May 1861 and during the construction of Hanworth. Incidentally (or coincidentally, the Vecchio family reside in the same street today).
The inscribed words in this garden are a dedication to, and tell a brief story of when, how, why and by whom Hanworth was owned
GEORGE POYNTER HEATH – family home, Cowlishaw design
MARY M WEINHOLT – ‘The Hospice’ for impoverished Gentlewomen; dedicated to Anne Powell
TOS – gifted the house from Mary and ran it according to Mary’s wishes
ANGLICAN CHURCH – purchased the property but continued to run according to Mary’s wishes
MARISA VECCHIO – purchased to run as accommodation for women; dedicated to Romana Preston
BLANK PLACE – Marisa’s vision is to one day gift Hanworth House back to the community of Brisbane and a blank space has been left free for this dedication.
During the initial clean-up of the property and before renovations began full swing, the old birdbath now positioned in ESKGROVE GARDEN was discovered lying underneath the house by the workmen. The discovery of the memorial inscriptions in the masonry prompted the engagement of Brisbane’s premier historians and researchers to discover the history and relevance of this structure to Hanworth House.
Slowly over the subsequent months, the Birdbath’s former existence was uncovered. The first concrete evidence was found in a 1930’s photograph of ‘The Hospice’, where it can be seen under the frangipani tree.
An article in The Brisbane Courier on Monday 24 October 1927 (page 21) describes a fete held at ‘The Hospice’ “in aid of the National Equine Defence League, and the Belgium Society for the Prevention of Cruelty.”. (Mary Wienholt was a founder of Brisbane’s RSPCA at Yeronga):
“A drinking fountain for birds, inscribed with “Their songs shall rise to Thee,” is a memorial recently erected in the grounds, and it was inspected and admired by all.” Brisbane Courier Monday 24 October 1927 page 21
According to local historians and researchers, there was nothing to indicate that the Birdbath was brand new at the time of donation and could be much older than 1927 vintage. It could have been donated by the family of any of the ladies who died at ‘The Hospice’. In checking some of the deaths of residents before 1927, it seems that not all of the ladies were ‘impecunious’ (ie poor, impoverished), but some just ill or dying. It is known ‘The Hospice’ was hit hard by the 1919 influenza epidemic with deaths of at least three residents. The funeral notice run by The Brisbane Courier on Saturday 9 July 1927 (page 16) of a resident could indicate one of the families who may have donated the Birdbath, in memorandum of their loved one:
Kelly -The Funeral of the late Mrs Jane Kelly, Mother of Mr C J Kelly Ascot will move from the Hospice Lytton road, East Bris-bane This (Saturday) Afternoon at 3 o’clock, to the Bulimba Cemetery. CANNON & CRIPPS