House and Grounds

Government House

Main Entrance

Main Hall: Notable features include elegant arches and natural lighting provided by an atrium.

Dining Room: A unique feature of the dining room is the painted ceiling panels containing the arms of England, Scotland and Ireland. Formal luncheons and dinners to mark special occasions and in honour of visiting dignitaries are held here.

Ante-Drawing Room: The ante-drawing room is used to receive guests attending official functions.

Drawing Room: The elaborate plaster ceiling of the drawing room reflects the Victorian penchant for decorating rooms with strong patterns and rich colours. This room is used for small receptions, investitures, award presentations and in conjunction with dinners.

French Room: The wallpaper in the French room is hand painted in the French Empire style and the room contains some of the most delicate furniture in the house. Originally a boudoir or ladies’ calling room, it is today a charming curiosity.

Ball Room: Significant features of the ball room are the splendid huon pine floor, the decorative vaulted ceiling and three magnificent chandeliers. Noteworthy too are the three large mirrors on the dais which were the largest in the southern hemisphere when installed. This impressive room is used for receptions, investitures, presentations and concerts.

Conservatory: The conservatory was originally the formal balcony entrance to the ball room from the carriageway. In 1991 the present conservatory was constructed faithfully following Porden Kay’s original drawings. It is used as an extension to the ball room and for working breakfasts and small luncheons

The Exterior: Government House has exceptional stone work, including window mullions, gargoyles and individually carved chimney pots.

The Royal Coat of Arms on the southern façade and the bas-relief on the western tower entrance, sometimes known as the Great Seal of Van Diemen’s Land, are special features.

 
The clock in the main tower was the first public clock in the colony and was originally place in the tower of old St. David’s Church in 1825. Beneath the clock faces have been carved the numerals 1857, the year when the exterior of the house was completed.  


The Grounds

 

The house is situated on 15 hectares of land.  It is part of a complete estate comprising 4.5 hectares of established gardens and ponds, paddocks, cottages, stables and other buildings.

The gardens are regarded as one of the finest private gardens from the Victorian era in the country.  They are thought to have been laid out by Mr William Thomas, landscape gardener, in accordance with plans drawn up by the architect of Government House, William Porden Kay.  The garden has been maintained much as it was developed in the 1850s and 1860s and includes fowl yards, an orchard, and kitchen and picking gardens.  The produce from the garden is used in the Government House kitchen.  Five full time gardeners are responsible for all aspects of the garden’s maintenance.

The quarry pond and the pond just inside the main entrance where originally the sites of two sandstone quarries, stone from which was used in the construction of the house.

Some of the trees on the grounds, including the oak avenues, pre-date government house having been planted in the 1840’s.  As the garden ages new trees are being planted in anticipation of some of the older trees dying.  Over the years trees have been planted by visiting royalty, heads of state of other distinguished visitors, these trees are marked with brass plaques.

Cattle can often be seen grazing in the paddocks in front of the House.  They are the property of the Jordan River Learning Federation School Farm at Brighton.