Len Langan has been a regular contributor to Think Tasmania. He’s also recently been re-engaged as the manager of Clarendon for the National Trust, a role he’s performed previously with great enthusiasm. The new management team will oversee upgrades to both the house and parkland, soon to present a major tourist and events venue cohesively promoting Tasmania.
Meanwhile, Espectra Photography and Design principal Jackie Cox has just returned to Tasmania from European travels and says she’s ready to get back to work! Jackie has already captured a stunning collection of photos at Clarendon.
Special functions will soon become part of the exciting new era at Tasmania’s flagship National Trust property. Wedding photographers from Espectra Photography and Design will be working closely with Len Langan at Clarendon, offering packages for those choosing to marry in the gorgeous setting of northern Tasmania.
With perfect timing then, Len Langan has written this piece introducing Think Tasmania readers to the promise of Clarendon Estate. No doubt we’ll have more to share about the venue in the future. We plan to explore Evandale one day and enjoy Devonshire tea with Len and wife Jill, who are similarly passionate about all things Tasmanian.
Clarendon: National Trust Mansion
words by Len Langan and photos by Jackie Cox
The natural beauty of Tasmania is easy to see in our varied scenery ever changing from deep wilderness to open pastures, from sweeping agricultural acres to mountains and truly breathtaking beaches and seascapes. Our wildlife entrances adults and children alike and one is never far from some healthy refreshments.
Yet, we would like to introduce you to another Tasmania. Step over the doorstep of the present into the past with us and discover “Clarendon”. A glorious neo-classical mansion built in 1838 by James Cox – the second son of William Cox who built the first road over the Blue Mountains in New South Wales to open up the Bathurst Plains.
Clarendon is of course, the “flagship” property of the Tasmanian National Trust and you may have already visited it but, if you have it will almost certainly have been before some very recent, and ongoing, refurbishments. The gem, now sparkles brighter than ever and has become a magical “must see”. A place to delight and to fire your imagination and to fascinate children.
Evandale… Step Back in Time
Visitors enter Clarendon through the great north front portico into its spacious reception hall taking a step back in time. Clarendon offers no ghosts but a warm friendly ambience that invites you back to the mid 1850s. It stirs the imagination.
James Cox lived here with his second wife Eliza Eddington, the daughter of Tasmania’s first Lieutenant Governor David Collins, with whom he raised eleven children as he built the estate up to over 40,000 acres. The house is reputed to have cost him twenty thousand pounds and some have suggested that some of its architectural features are suggestive of the great Colonial architect and civil engineer James Blackburn.
Numerous accounts have come down to us of the warm hospitality extended to visitors by James and Eliza. One of these from the journal of the Surveyor John Helder-Wedge tells us that staying overnight with Mr. Cox at Clarendon as he often did, he ate “the most delicious gooseberry pudding I had ever eaten in my life”; sadly he omitted to record the other courses. We can however, imagine the comforting crackle of the open fires, the lively conversations that James loved, as they sampled the plentiful produce of the estate.
Remarkable History in Tasmania
When you realise that Tasmania – then Van Diemen’s Land – was first settled as the second colony in Australia in 1803 its growth through many adversities that included taking its isolated population close to starvation, was truly remarkable and it is almost incredible that this house was standing here surrounded by a thriving estate and its outbuildings in the space of a mere 35 years. Even before the present house James had built his first home on this site with his first wife Mary Connell and their six surviving children of eight, in about 1820 as the area became reasonably safe from the hostile native population and the bushrangers.
Visiting Clarendon is to stand in one of the cradles of our nation. One of the homes of our forebears signifying their drive to build a place in the world for themselves and for us. It is an enduring inheritance and a rewarding experience.
Clarendon Estate via Launceston
Clarendon is located 27 kilometres from the center of Launceston south of the celebrated Georgian township of Evandale famous for its penny-farthing bicycle race, an excellent tourist bureau and some very interesting shops.
The Estate welcomes visiting individuals, coach parties from schools, tours and other organisations and hosts special functions such as weddings, family gatherings, corporate conferences and product launches etc.
Contact Clarendon National Trust by phone (03) 63986220. Alternatively contact Len Langan by phone 0402 307 277.
Jackie Cox has registered her business as a member of Think Tasmania.
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