12 January 2016

Brighton Traveller of 1889 - Edith Warne


The Travel Letters of Edith Warne 1889-1890

Edited by Judy Middleton (Published 1982 revised 2013)


Edith was the daughter of Robert and Charlotte Bacon. There was a difference of some twenty years between the ages of her parents and when Edith arrived on the scene, her father was already in his fifties. He was by then firmly established at Brighton, having leased the Old Ship Hotel in 1852 in partnership with Samuel Ridley, his brother-in-law. Bacon also ran a wine and spirit business from the same premises. He already had a personal interest in the Old Ship because his bride was the daughter of John Jackson Cuff and youngest sister of George Edward Cuff , a former owner. Edith was never short of a relative or two since both parents came from large families. Robert Bacon had five brothers and two sisters while Charlotte had five sisters and two brothers. 
From an advertisement of 1883

Robert and Charlotte Frances Cuff were married in 1848. The eldest child Alfred Cuff Bacon arrived in 1849 while his mother was still in her teens. Perhaps it was a difficult birth because poor Alfred suffered some damage. The second child was Clara who never married and some of Edith’s letters were addressed to her. The two girls had a special bond, which was not surprising in a family containing four brothers.

The second son was Francis Plews Bacon, born in 1852, and known in the family as Frank; he only figures once in Edith’s letters. By the time she was writing them, he lived in London pursuing a career as an architect and moreover he had married a lady who did not come from Brighton.

The third son born in 1855 was named Robert after his father but was always known by his second name of Gresham. It was Gresham Bacon who took over the running of the Old Ship in 1888 when his father died. The youngest child was Benjamin Bunbury – what fun the boys at school must have had with a lad saddled with three initial ‘Bs’.

Edith was the fifth child and she was born in 1860. On 7 September 1882 she was married at the church of St Cosmas and St Damian, Keymer to Harry Duke Warne. He was a solicitor and had his home and practice at 20 Middle Street. Harry was a handsome man with a beard and the look of a youthful George V about him. He was one of the original seven directors of the Old Ship when it was registered as a limited company on his advice in 1888. Apparently, it proved to be so useful having a solicitor on the board that the tradition was carried on down through the years. Harry was also elected a Brighton councillor in 1888.

Wentworth was the Bacon family home at Keymer. Today the house is known as Villa Adastra and has been enlarged.
The reason Edith married at Keymer was because the Bacons lived in the parish in a large house called Wentworth. The property still exists and is now owned by the Salvation Army and called Villa Adastra Eventide Home, 79 Keymer Road, Hassocks. But the church and its churchyard must have held bittersweet memories for Edith because just over three years after her marriage, both her babies had been buried there. Bertram Duke Warne was born in 1883 and died aged six months; this sad event occurred when Edith was pregnant with her second son Lionel Wentworh Warne who was born in 1884 and died aged sixteen months.
The invitation to the wedding of Edith Bacon to Harry Duke Warne
was printed and edged with silver.

In 1889 Harry’s health was causing such concern that doctors advised him to take a two-year break from work. He suffered from a weak chest, a diseased hip and a troublesome arm that he had broken at school and dislocated on a previous voyage; a prolonged sea-trip was held to be a sovereign remedy. He took with him his photographic equipment, found some relief in bathing in hot pools and gamely undertook tiring journeys. It is ironic that Edith’s mother was most concerned about her daughter’s welfare and urged Harry to take care of her. He took the injunction very seriously and it is touching to note how he looked after her when in reality it was he who was frail and she who was strong as a horse.

Edith was typical of her time and class and her solid Victorian values can be discerned from her letters. She felt no need to feel apologetic about her attitude towards servants and second-class passengers; that after all was how the world was ordered. She had strong views about the way people should conduct themselves; the drooling brother and sister (the Sandermans) obviously overstepped the bounds of decency as far as she was concerned. Likewise, the stout woman who picked her nose whilst seated at the dinner table was not a lady, however much money she had to spend.     

When she was in Hawaii she was horrified to find American ladies riding their horses with their legs astride like men instead of the more modest side-saddle. She was equally upset by the American habit of spitting all over the place and depositing their chewing gum on a convenient wall. In the company of the King of Hawaii she watched traditional dancing and was so surprised at the size of the dancing girls’ bottoms that she forgot her manners and commented upon them to the King.

But it must not be thought that Edith was a stern, humourless character. She had a great sense of fun and a quick eye to sum up the essence of other people. She was a popular person to invite to an At Home because she could play the piano and the violin as well as being able to sing. Her voice was good enough for her not to need to be coyly modest.
Perhaps Benjamin Bacon hired clothes from a theatrical costumier such as B. & H. Drury of Brighton
who costumed this cast for Merrie England  and used the postcard for publicity purposes. It dates from 1907.

In short she was an extrovert and had a theatrical flare that was shared with other members of the Bacon family. Both her father and her uncle loved the theatre and knew people connected with the stage; the actress Ada Cavendish was a particular favourite. When Henry Nye Chart wanted to purchase the Theatre Royal, Brighton in 1866 Robert Bacon was part of the syndicate that helped raise the sum of £7,500, thus enabling Chart to buy it; Bacon’s contribution was £300. Edith’s youngest brother Benjamin was a leading light in the Brighton Amateur Dramatic Society and after one performance the local Press wrote admiringly that he ‘acted with wonderful talent’.

The Bacon family treasured the letters Edith sent home and a neat female hand sewed some of the many pages together with fine thread at the top left-hand corner. Edith’s handwriting is fairly legible although a few words defy all attempts at interpretation. When it is remembered that some letters were written aboard a heaving ship, this is not so surprising. Indeed for one letter written at sea, she used a pencil on purpose because it was easier to control than a pen. She was not fond of punctuation and some of her paragraphs extend for pages while her favourite expression was ‘of course’. Occasionally she would use slang for emphasis but usually placed these words in inverted commas. Another habit was to underline certain words.

Edith spent a considerable time on her correspondence with some letters covering twenty pages. She found it hard to understand why her husband’s family rarely wrote. But the warmth of the Bacons more than compensated Harry for the distance from his own family and he in turn regarded Charlotte and Clara as his own family rather than as in-laws. Clara used to send him the newspapers when the Warnes were abroad. This kindness was much appreciated by Harry for he loved to catch up on the news from home, particularly on the political front.
copyright © J. Middleton.
Edith and her sister Clara lived in a house
 they called Wentworth at York Avenue, Hove.

Their trip lasted for nine months but for Harry the benefits were not long lasting and he died on 19 July 1892, leaving Edith to spend over forty years as a childless widow. But she had the comfort of living with her sister Clara in a house in York Avenue, Hove, which they called Wentworth after the old family home in Keymer, which was sold in 1890. Edith devoted herself to her interest in the Arts and her work for various charities. Edith died on 17 December 1933 and was buried in the same churchyard that held her babies and her husband. But first there was an impressive funeral at Holy Trinity Church, Ship Street, Brighton. The mourners bore witness to her range of activities. There were representatives from the Old Ship Hotel, the New Sussex Hospital for Women, the Girl Guides, the Guild of Brave Poor Things, the Church Council of Holy Trinity and the Brighton Musical Festival, of which she had been a committee member. Her sister Clara survived her and died in 1941.

For more information about Harry Duke Warne, please see under Ten Thousand Miles by Sea. More of Edith’s letters can be found under Travels with Edith. Also relevant to the family is The Old Ship Hotel, Brighton.

The sepia photographs were taken by Harry Duke Warne and the drawings are by Judy Middleton

copyright © J. Middleton.
The S.S. Tainui was launched in 1884 and was constructed of steel with 800 horse-power engines.
She was registered at Glasgow. The Shaw Savill line owned her from 1885 to 1899
and her name was changed. In 1896 she became the Covadonga, reverting to Tainui in 1898
 while in 1899 she became the Astoria. She was sent to the breaker’s yard in 1911.


SS Tainui
Somewhere south of Spain
16 September 1889

My dearest Mother,

Tomorrow we may reach Teneriffe so shall have an opportunity of sending you a little ship news. Last night we had what they called a breeze. I called it a very high wind and the sea came over the side of the ship and walking was most inconvenient.

It has been interesting watching the various preparations for the heat. Today the awnings have been placed at the side as well as overhead. It is perfect on deck but the heat brings many discomforts below.

The passengers I think would come next on my list. There are about 50 in the saloon and a very slow lot, mostly people with their families. Lizzie Sanderman and a Miss Grey and one nonentity are the only young girls, of course being married I don’t count myself. There are some nice men and all good looking and I fancy I should get on very nicely if it were not for the children. There is no place for them. Consequently they are everywhere. The Bishop’s children are terribly spoilt and most annoying, in fact the Bishop and family will just fairly spoil our party. His name is Montgomery and he was formerly curate of Hurst and his wife was Archdeacon Farrar’s daughter, very proper and correct. They have a hanger-on in the shape of an old lady who is next to us in her cabin. She insists on lying in her bunk waiting to be sick.

(The Right Reverend Henry Hutchinson Montgomery was consecrated Bishop of Tasmania at Westminster Abbey in 1889 before setting sail for his Diocese. He was born at Cawnpore, India, in 1847. He became a curate at Hurstpierpoint, Sussex and later served at St Margaret’s, Westminster as assistant to Canon Farrar whose daughter Maud he married in 1881. By the time the couple set out for Tasmania, the marriage had already produced five children but the grand total was to be seven - five sons and two daughters. At the time of the voyage the third son Bernard Law Montgomery was around two years of age; he was later to become famous as Viscount Montgomery of Alamein (1887-1976). Incidentally, Maud’s father, better known to us as Dean Farrar was the author of the celebrated work Eric, or Little by Little presented to countless Victorian youngsters as the ideal gift.)

Our Captain is very strict I think and not very sociable. A good tough sort but no polish. A committee has been organised to provide amusement for the ship. I am to sing on Saturday night and Harry recites, Lizzie S. is to arrange a dramatic performance.

I am looking forward to Teneriffe, it seems a long time since one saw land. The sea is very wonderful, the deep indigo blue strikes me, one never sees it near land and the phosphorescence at the night when the sea is rough is a marvellous sight; as far as the eye can reach the crest of each little wave is lighted up. We saw a great many porpoises yesterday they ran along the ship and leaped up in the air every few moments.

There is simply no dressing on board, one wears the same dress all day with just a change of bodice or garibaldi. I will add more to this before posting. (The garibaldi was a sort of blouse worn by women in imitation of the red shirt worn by the Italian General Garibaldi (1807-1882).

Wednesday 18th

I have found out more about the Captain, he seems a regular bear. Awfully strict with the officers and also passengers; have to ask his permission for every little thing and then you must choose the right moment. (This is beastly paper, my pen only writes now and again.)

I forgot to tell you we had a very good drive to Plymouth but were disgusted with our Hotel, dirty, badly attended and exorbitant prices. Harry told them plainly, he being a director, that he should not consider himself justified in allowing their advertisement to appear any longer at the Old Ship.

Dearest love to you all from you loving daughter Edith Warne

SS Tainui
24 September 1889
Not far off the equator

My dearest Mother,

I think it is time to commence to write up my Log. We have been some three days in the tropics and don’t we just know it! Lizzie Sanderman suffers a great deal, poor girl, she can’t perspire and the consequence is the heat seems all to go to her head and neck and she has an awful pain in her head.

Since Sunday it has been awfully hot. One simply can do nothing but lie about the deck. The cabins were 92 all day, the cold bath was 82. The cockroaches thrive apace, there are literally thousands and the tropics bring out the rats too. I have not as yet seen one in our cabin but I take many precautions; last night one of our passengers had one look at him in his bunk. Fortunately they are well fed, so they run away directly you move but dear me I shall be pleased to get into a colder latitude.

The entertainments we have had consist of a concert on Saturday night, two afternoons of athletic sports and a lecture on Westminster Abbey. The concert was a great success and the 2ndclass were invited. Harry was very successful with his Bill Adams who won the Battle of Waterloo and young Sanderman gave them one of his artillery experiences in America.

Before I forget I must tell you we have a service on Sunday morning conducted by the Bishop to which all are allowed to come barring steerage. I think the service rather harrowing but I am thankful to say the Bishop is not a very eloquent man and therefore does not pile it up too much. (Steerage was the most inferior accommodation on board a ship. It was popular with emigrants since it was the cheapest way of reaching their destination. Conditions were often cramped and the only facilities provided were tiers of wooden bunks and a stove on which to do some cooking. They were expected to bring their own food and bedding).

Well, the athletic sports are very well managed; the first afternoon they had a hurdle race, children’s flat race, egg-and-spoon race for ladies, cock fighting, which is rather a joke, potato race, and tug-of-war for men and one for ladies. I only went in for the latter and was in the conquering side. Yesterday there was a tea race for the ladies. They have to run a certain distance with a cup of tea and return, the Bishop’s wife won easily, this showing her capacity for drink, what do you think? (The game of cock fighting was played by two men in a sitting position. A pole was passed under bent knees and the man was trussed to it, arms as well. The object was to see which man could knock his opponent outside the circle chalked on deck. The spectators considered it great fun, particularly if the ship rolled unexpectedly).
copyright © J. Middleton.
A flying fish

I forgot whether I told you I had seen flying fish by the score; I think I may safely say they are disappointing, about 9 inches long. I thought to see something the size of a porpoise. Our herring is about the size of it but there is no doubt about the flying for they go a great distance high in the air, which shows they don’t skim the water as a great many people want to make out.

2nd October. Wednesday

We are having three days dreadfully rough weather. The sea seems mountainous high and of course all the ports are closed, which is a great discomfort. Several ladies are very ill especially Miss Smith, Lizzie Sanderman’s cabin companion but the 2ndclass passengers are terrible and no wonder for the screw goes under their Saloon and is more often than not out of the water. We went to a concert given by them on Monday night and it was terribly trying to sit there – poor things they did their best but it was rather feeble.

I forgot to tell you many have had horrid experiences with rats. Lizzie Sanderman had one two nights running on her, once on her chest and then one on her feet; they eat your boots and leather things unless you are on the lookout. Up to now though I scarcely dare write it, I have not seen one in our cabin but I have kept the electric light going the whole night for I fancy if they see us well they won’t come in. Someone the other night put a toy rabbit into a man’s bunk and they say when he put his foot down he only took one leap and he was across the other side of the cabin.

Harry is very busy with his photography and has taken several good ones of the ship and Teneriffe. The ship’s carpenter fitted him up with a dark room so he gets on well.

From your loving daughter Edith Warne
P.S. Not seen the Southern Cross yet.


Hadley’s Orient Hotel
24 October 1889

My dearest dear –

We arrived all safe and well yesterday afternoon at 6.30. Land was sighted about 7 in the morning and at breakfast we were quite close and you have no idea what an excitement it causes all round the ship and what a delightful feeling it is to see again any sort of land; much more when the approach to a town is as beautiful as it is to Hobart. Hobart lies at the foot of Mount Wellington and the smaller mountains rise all round.

(Tasmania was known originally as Van Diemen’s Land. It became a separate colony in 1825 and it was not until 1856 that it was called Tasmania. It is the most mountainous of the Australian states and even today forest covers some 40% of the island. Hobart dates from 1804 and was named after Robert Hobart, 4th Earl of Buckinghamshire, Secretary of State for War and Colonies 1801-1804. Out of the Australian capital cities only Sydney is older.)

When we dropped anchor and the health officer had interviewed the doctor, a deputation came aboard to welcome the Bishop, such a crowd of clergymen. Oh! What a lot I will have to tell you one day of the Bishop and his family. The wife and family have really been the only disagreeable things on board. The Bishop himself I cannot say a word about for really he was a good, nice man and everyone liked him.

Oh! The confusion of last night – we had to wait on the wharf for our luggage to come ashore and of course the Melbourne people crowded round so anxious to get theirs and be off in time and the Hobart people also crowded round in case any of their luggagewas shipped off to Melbourne. There seemed not the slightest system and when the name and destination were called out, anyone might claim the baggage for it is handed out to anyone who calls out ‘right’.
Salamanca Place, Hobart, Tasmania 1889

We have seen a very nice boarding house and go there tomorrow. The Sandermans are in another boarding house. This arrangement has been the source of a little trouble since. I dare say you will not be surprised to hear that the Sandermans are not a success quite. Hewould be all right but she is entirely spoiling him. At the best of times Harry was not fond of her and now he has taken an active dislike to her and has determined that nothing shall induce him to stay in the same house. The Sandermans were not very popular on board, people could not quite make them out, they spoon one another disgustingly. A great many people thought they were husband and wife travelling in disguise. I call it most foolish of Lizzie, she makes the man a perfect slave, consequently it has the effect of making him a regular old woman and taking all the manhood out of him. They generally sat on deck with their arms round each other and cheek to cheek. Imagine! (They were in fact brother and sister.)
Davy Street, Hobart, Tasmania 1899
It is very lovely here, the town is very quiet – a sort of country town but the surroundings are just perfect. The may, lilac, fruit and chestnut trees are in full bloom and yesterday the sun was as hot as our July sun.
This photograph was taken in Tasmania in October 1889, probably on the slopes of Mount Wellington. 
Edith stands on the left.
Yesterday we went to Fern Tree Bower. This is situated a little way up Mount Wellington and as the road winds higher you get such beautiful views between the trees of the distant hills, winding river and the town of Hobart, which then lies right at your feet.

We don’t care much for this Hotel – thousands of flies in the coffee room. Harry says all Colonial Hotels are like this but still my two nights here have been most enjoyable – how I do sleep. I suffered the first evening on land in the most extraordinary way; when at last I got to my room and began to undress, there was not a sound in the house or street. That stillness dazed me so and yet in my head I could still hear the regular pump of the engines.

Talking about engines, one evening I went down to the engine room with Harry and two or three others by special permission. I shall never forget it and am glad I saw it but never again for yours truly. We went down three landings or stages and all the time walking on gratings slippery with oil and then we saw the furnaces – 27 altogether. One man has to look after six and has to shovel in two tons of coal an hour in the awful heat and noise. You can’t imagine anyone being able to live there an hour and each man is on four hours at a time. Fancy all that going on night and day for three or four weeks at a time and there is one particular part of the engine that has to be felt every five minutes to see if it is keeping cool; if it gets over the proper heat, speed has to be slackened for a while.

Harry seems and certainly feels much better, he has thoroughly enjoyed his voyage. He has not got much fatter but he eats remarkably well and now we can get him nice milk he will get on famously.

From your ever loving daughter Edith Warne

copyright © J. Middleton.
Pressland House, Hobart, Tasmania.

Pressland House
Tuesday 29 October 1889

My dearest Clara

We moved to the above address last Saturday; it is a boarding house and barring that fact is a very comfortable, clean house, nicely situated for view and light and cheerful. The Hotel as mentioned in my last letter was dirty and stuffy and besides which the living was too expensive. Here we are only charged £2-2-0d a week, which includes everything, drinks excepted. What I don’t like is the style of people and really I could not stand the drawing room, so we have gone to a little extra expense for a small sitting room where we can do as we like.

Last night we went, in fact the town went, to a reception at Government House. We wrote our names during the day in the visitors’ book and went in the evening about 9 o’clock. We were introduced personally to the Governor and Lady Hamilton. This we owed to Mrs Hector (she was with the Bishop and family aboard the steamer) who stays at Government House. Mrs Hector gave us an advantage and we were most kindly treated. Lady Hamilton beckoned me to her during the evening and of course asked particulars of the voyage and where we were going and has invited us to call on her, which I think rather a great deal of. She is so charming and so free and friendly and most evidently delighted to talk to someone from England. The rooms are very fine but quite bare of any ornament or pictures, and flowers are so common that they do not display them as we should. In this huge reception room there were besides the settees round the walls four or five tables and placed on these were bowls of the most exquisite roses, all colours but no attempt at arrangement and no plants anywhere. We had a band in the gallery and refreshments served in another big room.

(Sir Robert George Crookshank Hamilton (1836-1895) was born in the Shetland Isles, Scotland. He was noted for his intellectual gifts and was only nineteen when he graduated from the University of Aberdeen. In 1886 he was appointed Governor of Tasmania and travelled there with his second wife Teresa whom he had married nine years previously. They shared intellectual interests and worked to raise the standard of cultural life in Tasmania. Lady Hamilton founded a literary club that flourished for many years. A contemporary account of the Governor runs ‘he was a great reader, a quiet earnest student of the many problems of the present day, ever striving to keep abreast of current thought.’)    

Today the big excitement has been the Bishop’s enthronement. I got a ticket and was jammed up for two hours and saw very well. There was a very long procession headed by a cross, about which there have been endless squabbles in the town. The place is decidedly low church and this carrying of the cross was supposed to be the thin edge of the wedge. Half the choir refused to sing if it was allowed, so in the evening paper a notice appeared saying it would be dispensed with, and lo and behold they changed their minds and brought it in. I expect there will be rows. The cathedral is very plain, white-washed walls with no decoration and just a few good stained glass windows.

Tell Martha our clothes travelled splendidly, nothing unduly creased, which is wonderful considering the heaving about. I wore my long black silk and square velvet bodice last night and did not overlade myself with diamonds. I thought perhaps the Colony would think I wanted to outshine them. Some girls looked very nice last night but up to now I have not been overpowered by Tasmanian beauty. The complexions are mostly very fine but I don’t think they could possibly help that in the atmosphere.

My dear love to you all in which Harry joins – he has been suffering from a bad cold, which has made him feel seedy but he is better today.

Your loving sister Edith Warne

P.S. I am not struck with the Southern Cross – just like an inverted kite I think.


Pressland House
6 November 1889

My dearest Mother,

My principal item is the dinner at Government House; I enjoyed myself much better than I thought to, they are both so thoroughly kind and nice that you can’t help yourself. We were a party of ten, a young lady staying with them, an elderly lady also, two young men, visitors and ourselves. I was taken into dinner by a Mr Hunt (who by the bye comes from Worthing) but my place was at the Governor’s right hand. Harry took in Lady Hamilton. The dinner was nothing out of the way but the table was lovely. Nothing on it but roses and all one kind – the Cloth of Gold; I think I have seen them in England but not the enormous size they are here. The table centre was olive green plush and canary coloured satin, two strips not put plain on the table but draped and festooned and wherever it was gathered up, a large spray of roses was laid, cut wholesale from the tree.
Government House, Hobart, Tasmania 1889.

The Governor is always served first, then Lady Hamilton, afterwards the guests and I discovered that it is not correct to sit when the Governor stands and they all rose when he came into the room after dinner. Before leaving the subject of dinner I must tell you that the supply of wine is limited. I had one little flat glass of champagne not quite full and I was offered no more. Harry I believe had two and a half. I suppose it is not etiquette and the climate satisfies one wonderfully – I was told by the Governor no one is ever thirsty here but he rather forgot that we are not yet acclimatized – it was dry work. There was no music afterwards but Lady Hamilton talks very well. We left about 10.30.

I had a very pressing invitation to lunch last Sunday with the Hamiltons and then to see the grounds, of course we went. On Sunday they have dinner with their children and so were quite a family party. The grounds are very large and beautiful but the flower part is not kept like our swell houses would be. I think the reason is that the flowers are never taken in during the winter and so the beds are not re-arranged for the summer. The kitchen garden does your heart good, everything you can think of in the way of vegetables and fruit – the only thing under glass is the grape, which is not doing well – got the mildew. Harry is to take his camera when he likes in the grounds. The rest of the letter is missing.)


Pressland House
Wednesday 13 November 1998

My dearest Cleg,

I again address my letter to you to thank you very much for yours received yesterday. You can’t tell how delightful it was to receive it – it arrived by the Doric.

You ask about cockroaches and Sanderman’s cabin companion. The latter was a nice little woman deadly ill all the way, going out to New Zealand to marry a man she had not seen for eight years. Lots on board were going out to marry, I couldn’t imagine doing such a thing but it is lucky we don’t all feel alike.

(Going out to marry was nothing new. In 1833 a ship arrived at Van Diemen’s land full of young girls on a matrimonial adventure. Sometimes the sight of so many females to men starved of such company was too much and in 1834 the unfortunate ladies were pursued from the ship by a mob of men and had to take refuge where they could.)

The cockroaches I got so used to that I did not mention them I suppose. They swarmed, the passage walls were brownat night with them but when the rats came about they were a much greater terror to me. My gauntlet gloves were eaten into large holes one night and a large piece of Harry’s boots. I woke one night and heard one, they make a kind of singing, chirping noise and I turned up the electric light and there he was sitting on top of the cabin door and when he saw me he ran down one of my dresses onto the floor – didn’t I scream.

We took our journey to the Huon on Saturday, we started in a double buggy (buggies are always used for country drives) about 10.30. The weather for the first half of the day was simply glorious, perfectly clear and a regular sunstroke sun but unfortunately that never seems to last. Before we arrived it rained and turned very cold. We put up at the Picnic Hotel, one of about a dozen small houses that compose the village; of course it was very rough, like our little wayside inns, but it was clean and one can put up with a great deal for that. I get fleas everywhere but then I do believe if there was only one in the house it would make for me, no one else seems to notice them.

Harry and I intended returning by steamer to see the river but of course on Monday none left, it was a sort of a Bank Holiday to keep the Prince of Wales’s birthday, so the steamers were taken up by pleasure folk. (The Huon is Tasmania’s fourth largest river.) We had therefore to return by coach, I have never seen so bad a bus. Still we got home all right; coming into town there is a hill five miles long and they gallop down with five horses and the day we were on, there was a sixth horse lashed on at the side, someone wanted him taken into town. I tried the top of the vehicle for some distance but it was more than I could stand so I went inside and preferred the peculiar passengers and stuffiness to what appeared to me such fearful danger. One has to get accustomed to colonial driving, it is all furious, no one can tell why, for they are a slow lot and never seem in a hurry to do anything else.

I have had several callers including a Mr and Mrs Arnold who want seeing to be appreciated. He is the great musician out here and plays the violin and gets up concerto. Music out here is very feeble, they never hear a professional, it doesn’t pay them to come, so barring the violinist (who would not be much at home) they rely on amateurs for their concerts and not good ones either. I believe I should be a regular Patti amongst them. (Adelina Patti (1843-1919) was an Italian born operatic soprano who enjoyed a huge success both in the USA and Europe. She had an amazingly long career lasting for almost 50 years.)  Thank dear Mother for the song, it seems very pretty though rather high.

We have made up our minds to go next week to Melbourne and stay there for s fortnight and then return for Christmas. It won’t do to leave Melbourne much later for the heat will get so awful. I expect now it will be as much as one can stand.

The Sandermans leave this week for Launceston, we have seen very little of them and I can’t be sufficiently thankful that Harry was firm about separating from them, for they would have been a terrible drawback in many ways.

We shall be glad to hear from Gresham, our dear love to all at home and away
Ever your loving sister Edith Warne


Menzies Hotel
24 November 1889

My dearest Mother,

I was in such a hurry last week I quite forgot to mention having received your letter of the 9thOctober and to thank you very much. I am trusting some more are awaiting me at Hobart as one or two mails have been in since we left.

Re. the Sandermans. He has obtained an appointment as manager of a silver mine on the west coast of Tasmania and started to go last Wednesday. It is the most terrible part of the country, wild and uninhabited, except just those parts where the miners have their tents or huts and those parts are cleared of the bush sufficiently for them to do their work. The rest is dense scrub and under-wood, which makes the country very damp, rain falling nearly always. It is tolerably dry and fine about three months in the year. I suppose you will not be surprised to hear that Lizzie has insisted on accompanying him though strongly urged by everyone who knows not to do so. There has only been one woman through that part before and of course she was the wife of one of the men. I call it perfect madness but she can’t be made to see it in the proper light, she can’t see what an awful hindrance she will be to Sanderman, or what his feelings will be when he has to leave her of a day surrounded by the miners. I tried all I could and told her one or two things but she set her chin in a very determined way and I could see it was of no use saying anything.

I think myself she is doing it with the best intention in the world but there is a little bravado about it. Very likely when they get there (and it takes a week in a small steamer with no accommodation for women) there will be not even a hut; a man could manage with a tent for any length of time especially a man who has roughed it like Sanderman but I want to know what they will do if she gets ill. Some people tried to persuade her to stay at Macquarie Harbour, at all events for a time until he has concocted some sort of place for her but no. I really have no patience to talk about it anymore and the annoying part is she rather thinks people are admiring her for it and she feels like a little heroine. What she’ll be like if she gets safely through it and comes home with yarns oh! my, no one will be able to contradict her stories that’s one thing.
Map of Tasmania showing places of interest to the Warnes.
(Macquarie Harbour was notorious as a penal settlement from 1822 to 1833. During this period the policy of transportation was in full swing. Often the convictions were for petty offences – an example being a sentence of six years transportation for stealing fruit from a garden. If a convict managed to escape, he quickly perished in the inhospitable countryside and Macquarie was miles away from the more settled part of the island. Port Arthur in the Tasman Peninsular was established as a penal settlement in 1830, which led to Macquarie being closed down. Transportation was abandoned in 1853. Edith Warne visited Port Arthur during her stay by which time the place had become a popular tourist spot.)
Launceston, Tasmania, 1889.
I also omitted to tell you about the first part of our journey here, the railway from Hobart to Launceston; such a dangerous, queer concern. It has been cut all through the thick bush of the country and is a very narrow gauge. The carriages are built like trams, you sit facing one another lengthways of the carriage. The dangerous part is the curves. We were told before starting that at part of the journey you can shake hands with the people in the next carriage; well of course that is a ‘leetle’ overdrawn but without exaggeration in many places I saw the line we were coming to running parallel with us. To allow sufficient play the carriages are very loosely coupled so when towards the end of the journey you get to level ground they shake and sway to and fro so alarmingly that I really came to the conclusion I preferred the sudden curves.

Launceston, neat Trevallyn, Tasmania 1889
(The railway line from Hobart to Launceston was opened in 1876 after five years of construction work. A gauge of 3 feet 6 inches was adopted apparently as an economy; this gauge compares with the standard British one of 4 feet 8.5 inches.)

In the Tamar River, Launceston, Tasmania, November 1889
November 26.

We have thought of you today dearest and remembered the sad anniversary. (Edith’s father Robert Bacon died on 26 November 1888 at the age of 79 years. According to the local Press he ‘passed away quietly and peaceably surrounded by his sorrowing family, by whom, as well as by all who had the pleasure of his acquaintance, his memory will be cherished on account of his geniality, general kindness and cheerfulness of disposition.’)

And now to give you some account of Melbourne. I am enjoying it very much and am much impressed with the town. What strikes me most is the wonderful length and breadth of the streets, they are magnificent, more like the sweep of the Brussels streets. Then the next thing that takes your attention is the Cable Frame. The streets are entirely given up to them, there being very little room for ordinary vehicles. They appear to go along like our electric trams at Brighton but are really drawn along by a cable. A wire cable is always running under the road and all they have to do is to force down a kind of grappling iron in the middle of the car, which seizes the running cable and so draws the tram along at a great pace. When they want to stop they merely have to loosen the hold of the cable. The length and straightness of the streets suit it very well but I am afraid the mud and snow would play old Harry with it in our country.

Harry took me one Sunday to Sandridge pier to see the place where his ship the good old Carlisle Castle lay at anchor when he was here before and funny enough as we walked up the pier he saw the crew of the Carlisle Castle row ashore, the boat having just anchored in the harbour. Later on we went over the ship and I certainly think for some reasons I should prefer a sailing ship. The cabins seem most comfortable and roomy and no smell of engines, which I should think a great pull. Harry was very pleased to show me around and point out which cabin he had occupied.

I can’t say much for the people, the Colonials you know. They are pretty nearly horridly rich and talk of nothing but money and lack refinement. I suppose it is accounted for by the fact they were nearly all nobodies from England who came over here and made a ‘pile’, either by mining or speculating in the same. I must say speculating is very fascinating out here and I ‘wants’ to try. You see you are so close and get such early news from the mines that it seems pretty safe. Women go in for it a good bit, buy a few shares for 2/6d or 3/- each and wait until they go up a shilling or two and then sell out and make a little ‘sumfing’.

I said I couldn’t say much for the people one meets but how shall I describe the servants! This Hotel is the first place I have been to where you’d call them servants. As a rule they are far too superior to serve you, won’t wear anything that suggests the garb of servitude, no caps, aprons – and waiters in ordinary plain clothes. What they like is to have a chat with you about home (England is home to everyone out here). They treat you as an equal, no ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’ but ‘Yes, Mrs Warne’ at every minute. To keep them at all one is obliged to let them do just as they like. I really believe you know that half the ladies dining at Table d’Hote and dashing their money about are servants married to a successful miner or speculator. An example here, a huge woman sits near us in the coffee room and during dinner last night Harry saw her merrily picking her nose.        

I was obliged to invest in something yesterday very necessary here, a Dust Cloak. I had rather a bother to get one long enough, all the cheap ones came up to my knees. I finally selected a very useful one (not pretty but serviceable) a reseda (a pale green colour) and brown stripe, circular shape. This will protect my dresses a little from the awful dust and will be useful going out to the theatres.

Harry has not been well here and yesterday poor dear he had a dose of castor oil. It has not done him any good although today he feels better in himself and tonight he is going to try a proper sort of pill. I think myself he got a little nervous about typhoid, everyone does here, it is appalling to hear the amount of it about.

November 27.

Tomorrow the new Governor the Earl of Hopetoun arrives and the event is celebrated by a Bank Holiday, that makes it about the third since we arrived. We return to Hobart on Friday starting at 6 in the evening and at 9 in the morning we shall be in the Tamar river and I hope I shan’t feel bad this time as the worst will come when we are in bed.

Please give our dear love to Clara, Gresham, Frank and Alfred.
Many kisses and love from your loving daughter Edith Warne

P.S. I think Madam Beattie ought to know how badly my grey alpaca bodice goes, the neck is a disgrace. It is so low down that without choking myself I can’t wrap it tight enough round my neck and every time I move an arm it makes the collar stick out all round and lets the draught in so that I have to wedge a silk handkerchief in to fill up the space. You know the look of a vulture, their horrid naked necks with just a ruff of feathers, well, that’s how I Iook. (Madam Beattie was a dressmaker and milliner whose business premises were at 40 East Street, Brighton.)


Pressland House
9 December 1889

My dearest Clara

I sincerely hope you and Mother have not worried about my missing the last mail; we arrived back at Hobart just too late. I told Mother we were returning on Friday but there was such a breeze that kind Harry decided to wait until last Tuesday in the hopes it would be calmer.

Bye the bye we saw the new Governor arrive on Thursday. It was a beautiful boiling day and he was supposed to drive to the swearing in place about 2.30 instead of which it was 4.30 and we were brave to wait (standing) all the time. There was such a crowd of people that it was almost impossible to get back out of it. The Governor and his wife are both absurdly young and he is very weakly looking. We heard a great deal about him from people at the Hotel afterwards who had been fellow travellers on board the Britannia – he seems to be rather a nonentity and always ill.
Melbourne welcomes the new Governor of Victoria, John Adrian Louis, 7th Earl of Hopetoun on 28 November 1889. The building in the background is the Treasury.
(John Adrian Lewis, 7thEarl of Hopetoun (1860-1908) became Governor of Victoria in 1889. Edith was a little harsh in her opinion of this man. His health was poor admittedly but he became a very successful Governor despite holding office when the colony was going through a financial depression. He travelled widely through Victoria and was said to be the most popular Governor to date. When he left in 1895 he was genuinely missed. In October 1900 he was appointed the first Governor General of Australia. His eldest son, the 2nd Marquess of Linlithgow, became Viceroy and Governor General of India from 1936 to 1943.) 
The dark blue coach and four perfect horses photographed on 12 December 1889 outside Government House, Hobart.
We called on Emily Thorn and her daughter on Sunday but did not see them. They however came up first thing Monday morning and spent most of the day with us and then took us to the Princes Theatre to see Little Lord Fauntleroy. Lilian Gilmour looked sweet, she has only been married six weeks and has a dear little cottage for which she pays £110 per annum without rates or taxes. Her cook receives £52, a horrid old woman who cooks only when she likes and her maidservant receives £37 – what do you think of that? And to have to find their caps and aprons and stand the chance of their walking out and leaving you. They told me of a case of a friend of theirs who wanted to bring some friends to supper. He kept four or five servants but they were all out and he had to ride about, get his supper from a confectioner and then pay off a woman to come and wait.
No wonder Harry had to take two photographs because in this shot he has managed to cut off the heads of the two lead horses.
On Tuesday we left and had another awful journey. We left in the same boat the Newcastle at about 10 o’clock and directly we got out of the bay between the two heads we began knocking about. The boat was crowded and people were sleeping everywhere. I had occasion to go to the ladies Saloon and there was a double row on each side of bunks with their occupants, some in the last stage of exhaustion, but most of them in the act of being sick. Thank goodness we had our own cabin on deck. Harry was more than good, always ready to hold my head and back, which helps so, and then taking off my clothes and laying me on my bunk and doing all the dirty work rather then let in the stewardess who though a most kind hearted sympathetic woman was a trifle dirty and smelly – her awful life would make her like that.
Lady Hamilton sits on the steps with her dog while
Edith smiles at the camera near the mounted
‘young Robinson’. Government House, Hobart, 1889.

Well we arrived at Launceston at 9 in the morning but our troubles were not at an end for during our absence the rain had fallen heavily and so swollen the rivers that the floods were out too, the worst known for 60 years. These had washed some part of the line to Hobart away and having started in our train at 3 in the afternoon we were obliged to turn out again at a place called Perth. All the ladies were put on a coach and driven ten miles to join another train but the poor men had to walk over the broken ploughed up line for about a couple of miles. We did not reach Hobart till 11.30 – pretty done up you bet.

We have got a scorcher here today but it is very bearable here and generally a good breeze. Everyone is flocking here from Australia and this house is quite full. Unfortunately our prices are raised and we shall have to do without a sitting room but in return we are moving into a bigger bedroom so I can manage to go there when I want to read or write.

Last Saturday I and Harry lunched at Government House and I went afterwards to a cricket match with Lady Hamilton. We are getting quite ‘pally dontyer know’. This morning we received a formal invitation there for Friday night. Last time we dined there, there was a girl in a dress of silver cloth with low neck and sleeves and she is so ugly and did so want covering up with something fluffy and soft. While on the subject of dress I may as well tell you that I cannot wear either pair of Dutton’s boots. One pair I have tried till the pain makes me sick and the other pair are the next size broader I find but no longer. I won’t venture to wear them for if I bring them home unworn I shall expect to change them. I suffered so with my feet in Melbourne that I was obliged to buy a pair of shoes for 21/-. (Dutton & Thorowgood, boot and shoe manufacturers, had business premises at 2 Castle Square, 45 East Street and 2 Steine Lane, all at Brighton and 94 Church Road, Hove.)

This morning the heat has been appalling and a very high hot wind. The only thing in such a case is to stay indoors and wait for the afternoon sea breeze and then start out. However the flies won’t give me any peace. Oh my dear if you could see them and if you could be here to catch them in your most approved style. At lunch and breakfast you were obliged to shake your food free. I catch them in a glass machine in our room but no one else troubles.  

In the afternoon I went to see a dog cart meet. There were only four but they were smart. It is got up by rather a swell girl (least I suppose she is) from England. She stays at Government House and is very horsey, rides and drives and is captain of a girls’ eleven. I rather like her but she is very ‘manny’. After the meeting they drove to a place called New Town and had a picnic tea. Miss Oakley (girl’s name) asked me to drive with her but I expected someone to spend the afternoon and so could not go.

My dear love to everyone and especially to yourself and dear Mother

Ever your loving sister Edith Warne


Pressland House
Tuesday 17 December 1889

Your letter of November 7tharrived yesterday. I knew dearest, how the news would worry you about my slight accident and purposely avoided writing about it, forgetting Harry’s letter to his mother was to be forwarded to you. It looked a great deal worse than it was. Harry was much more upset than I was for barring a couple of fine vari-coloured bruises I was not hurt a bit. It was the look of the thing evidently for one of the second-class passengers looking on from the deck ran quickly to her cabin as she said ‘to avoid seeing my mangled remains carried of’. These box days on board are a loathsome nuisance and a sudden big roll means such a thing might happen at any time. Another time the dodge is to take all your linen in the cabin box and go just once or twice for a different dress or jacket; you see I went every week for linen, however experience teaches.

By the bye I do hope Sims takes our house. I know he would be careful and have it kept nicely and he is quite welcome to the library because he would appreciate it. I suppose though anything of the sort will be settled before you get this, such a time before letters arrive at their destination.

Last Thursday Harry photographed the various horses and vehicles at Government House. There were four of the most perfect horses in the coach, which is a very dark blue colour, that was taken twice; then young Robinson’s cart and horse and his polo pony and Miss Oakley on her horse. Then he took a little group of Lady Hamilton with her dear dog on her lap, myself and the boy on his pony.
An unidentified young man astride his polo pony at
Government House, 1889

On Friday we dined at Government House, we were about twenty. Fancy now who took me into dinner. Young Mowatt from the Preston Road, you know the large house with the conservatory on your right before getting into Patcham. He has just left his university and now he is to travel for a year before settling to business, not bad. He at first began to patronize me thinking I was a Colonial (funny enough everyone from England seems to try that on with the Natives) but he was very excited when he found out I came from Brighton and never ceased talking until the end of dinner, in fact I had no time to notice anyone else.

The table looked very nice; very dark maroon silk down the middle and pale primrose draped around it, only on one side and nothing but carnations varying from pale pink to deepest red. As usual nothing done after dinner but as you all supposed to leave at 10, it is not very long to wait. Miss Oakley wore a lovely rich white dress with a long train, the bodice back and front was trimmed with pale gold glass beads. She is not pretty having red hair and freckles but looks nice at night and is such an independent jolly girl that one doesn’t mind her looks. There were one or two funny old things, one in a high black silk and a huge locket and chain and her hair looped behind her ears then done in a hard tight knot at the back – sticking out in a ‘blob’ you know.

I cannot believe Christmas is so near, nothing to remind you of the season bar one or two small figures of Father Christmas in shop windows. It is a wonder to me that they haven’t some different symbol when it is always hot at Christmas but I believe they stick to everything English and however baking the weather one has to get through roast beef and plum puddings.

The people are all terribly friendly out here and we have a great many callers. You know how fond I am of returning calls! I very nearly made an awful mistake with one visitor – the great violinist here. He called on me but I didn’t know who he was, not recognizing the name (it was when we first arrived). I had heard privately that he was ‘no great shakes’ as a player and fancied he was a genius. Well our conversation got onto music and I was opening my mouth with a great laugh to tell him what I had heard about Hobart’s celebrated violinist when he commenced, before I had time, telling me of his coming concert and with a mighty flash it suddenly struck me I was talking to the man – oh! my dear wasn’t it a narrow escape?

I have heard (through others) that Lizzie Sanderman is getting on fairly well, one of the managers has turned out of his hut until they can get another one sent. The first night she was obliged to put up an umbrella to keep herself dry. A two roomed hut is already on the way to them. Lizzie’s costume I hear was very sensible but she must have looked a cure in it. High boots to the knee, knickerbockers, short skirt over them and a blouse. I expect the hat spoiled everything. I don’t know what it was but something out of place you bet. She has no idea of following a costume to the bitter end. We have sent her today a large tin of Huntley & Palmer’s Marie biscuits. I thought they would very likely be acceptable.

Harry’s people don’t write, he has only received one letter from his Mother. I expect Mr Warne is obstinate about the mails, some old fashioned idea about them going once a month. He wouldn’t let her write before our ship arrived. He said ‘it will be no good they haven’t arrived yet’ forgetting the letter was going to take the same time to reach here. By the way my letters don’t go to Mrs Warne do they?

Dear love and kisses to you from your ever loving daughter Edith Warne


Maria Island Hotel
Maria Island
Christmas Eve 1889

I don’t suppose dearest Mother I shall ever write to you again from such a ‘curous’ place as this on Christmas Eve. Fortunately, I am able to send a line in time for the English mail so take the opportunity of telling you a little about the island.

(Maria Island was discovered in 1642 by Abel Tasman who named it after the wife of Anthony Van Diemen, Governor General of the Dutch East Indies. It is a rugged island approximately twelve miles in length and eight miles in width. Maria Island was used as a penal settlement from 1825 to 1832 for those convicts whose crimes were not considered serious enough for them to be despatched to Macquarie Harbour. But Maria Island was a far easier place to escape from and in 1826 it was said scarcely a week went by without some convict trying to reach the mainland in a crudely built canoe, although some drowned in the attempt. In 1832 the convict colony was abandoned when Port Arthur was established. Maria Island was then considered as a possible refuge for the few remaining aboriginal Tasmanians left alive and who had been rounded up. But the island was felt to be too good for them, besides being too near the mainland. They were eventually sent to Flinders Island in the Bass Strait. In the 1840s Maria Island again became a convict settlement for a few years.)

First of all, our journey hither. We started from Hobart at 8 o’clock in the morning and left the train for coach about 9.30 at Campania. Being Christmas time there were several extra passengers and a great deal of luggage. The coach is rather peculiar, one part like a covered-in van, then an outside seat along the front to hold four and the box seat. Both these seats had to hold double numbers almost, six behind and five on the box seat, one old man having to sit on the splash-board with his feet on the horses. They say the drive is one of the toughest in Tasmania. I should think so. Some months ago a bridge was washed away by the floods and at present the Tasmanians have not been energetic enough to rebuild it. Consequently, every day the coach and five has to ford a pretty deep fast-flowing stream with the most horrible approach in the shape of a steep stony bank. They make the men get down and wade over but the women have to stick to it. I just took hold of the back of the seat and did not look. Fancy with all that enormous weight and the unearthly noises the coachman makes to cheer the horses – altogether an experience.

Well after this the road was quite good for a little while and all very pretty but the rain came on steadily and kept on all day. After a bit the road got awful, deep ruts and holes and hills on the side of a precipice, sort of Switzerland driving. I will give you three of the names of the worst hills, which pretty well describe their character – Burst My Gall, Break My Neck and Paradise.

We had a wonderfully careful driver and they say an accident is almost unknown. We arrived at our destination Spring Bay at about 5.30 (a distance of 40 miles from our starting point) and then there was a steamer to take to the island. This is about an hour’s steaming away. At first there was a fear that we should not be able to get over until the next day, as a gale threatened every moment. However the skipper risked it and though we had a rough journey we just escaped the gale for we scarcely got to the little jetty before the wind howled round us. By this time we were very wet, tired and awfully cold but fortunately we were soon in the little Hotel and there we found kind souls and blazing wood fires and soon forgot our troubles.
Darlington, Maria Island. It is most probably Edith with her back to the camera, being told about the history of the place.
Now I must tell you a little about this literally uninhabited island. Six years ago an Italian man and his wife by name Bernacchi landed here and having stayed six months, asked permission of the Government to live here (himself and family at that time the only inhabitants). Permission was granted and since then he has developed the island, planted vineyards, brought workmen from all parts of the world and finally discovered they could manufacture a very good kind of cement. Of course for this undertaking money was required so about three years ago the island was formed into a company with Bernacchi as principal shareholder. He is in reality king of the island, the only inhabitants are his workers and the whole settlement consists of about 24 houses including the Hotel. This has lately been built on the Bungalow principle and is most comfortable. At present Harry and myself with the secretary of the company are the only guests and we are very well looked after and taken about by Signor Bernacchi and wife.
Another view of Darlington, Maria Island.

They were dining at Government House the night before we started and the Governor very kindly mentioned us so we had extra attention. The island is very lovely and the air seems to me to be most perfect. They say the climate is like Nice, they never have a frost and all the fruits grow in the open air. It is altogether very pleasant but my dear, how desolate I cannot describe to you. One is shut out entirely from everything; a little steamer comes over in the morning and evening from Spring Bay but between that time there is no communication. I really don’t think I could stand it if I were little Mrs Berbacchi, nice little woman, a Belgian. Signor Bernacchi is rather a good looking man about 39 or as Alfred would say perhaps 40. He has absolute power here, if any of the people misbehaves he simply sends them off the island.

copyright © J. Middleton. This shell,
the penion maxima,
might have been part
of Edith’s collection. 

Today we have made a most enjoyable trip; we took the steamer about seven miles round the coast, then landed for the men to get some duck shooting. While they shot I walked on the sand (such sand, firm and silver) and collected shells. They seemed to me wonderful, there were heaps of those mother-of-pearl ones like you used to have on your little cabinet in the back drawing room and the big twisted ones we see so often on mantelpieces in back parlours. I brought home a tremendous collection that I trust will travel safely home with me but they are so fragile.

I have had such an extraordinary feeling all day, it is quite impossible for me to feel it is Christmas. Partly the weather, partly the out of the way place but mostly the un-Christmas-like manner of the people. They none of them prepare for it as we do, in fact a great many of them want reminding of the season. I am in a way heartily glad of it as this is an island where there is no church or priest so I shall not have to attend the familiar service, for though I should dearly like to, I am sure it would make me uselessly low spirited.
copyright © J. Middleton. This lovely shell is the
Australian pheasant shell.

This island forty years ago was a convict settlement and there are a few traces left of their work and some old cells and a book with some frightful records of the cruelty practised in those days.

The walking on the island is very rough as you may imagine and I have almost worn out my Melbourne boots, fool that I am I never brought my clodhoppers, the very place I should want them.

Before leaving Hobart we had some dreadful thunderstorms and such hailstones I never ‘seed’. During one of them I was calling on Lady Dobson (another Hobart swell – going it aren’t I?) and a storm came on, the lightning was something ‘orrid’. We had driven there in an open buggy with only a little hood and the coachman and horses and little mongrel dog that insists on keeping with me, nearly drowned. We were kindly allowed to stay while the coachman went back for a closed carriage.

This shot of Darlington shows the convict’s boathouse, the commissariat store, the officers’ quarters with the hospital at the rear.
(Sir William Lambert Dobson (1833-1898) was born at Durham, England and arrived in Tasmania as a baby. Later on he returned to England to study law and won first place in the Inns of Court exams held in June 1856. Back in Tasmania he was appointed a Supreme Court Judge at the age of 36. In 1885 he was made Lord Chief Justice and he was knighted the following year. As a Member of Parliament he brought in the Act that made education compulsory.)

Christmas Day.

Thanks to Harry’s thoughtfulness I received this morning Clara’s kind Christmas letter and a card from my Cook. I never expected anything here and it was a very great pleasure. Visitors arrived last night, south Australians, old man, wife and great big Australian daughter about thirteen, who like the rest of this polite colony, did nothing but stare at me all breakfast.

With special love and kisses for your dear self
Ever your loving daughter Edith Warne

P.S. Harry received Gresham’s letter but none from his own people.


Pressland House
1 January 1890

My dearest Clara

Let me begin by wishing you all a very happy New Year. We returned from Maria Island last Monday and really enjoyed our visit, it was so free and easy and we were out in the air all day long – and such air.

Boxing Day was a regular scorcher with a hot wind and we went for a day’s fishing with the Bernacchis. There was no breeze but plenty of roll. Mrs Bernacchi and the three boys began being ill, fearfully ill, almost directly and kept it up all day. We were obliged to land them on rocks where they remained until our return. The fishing was great sport, you pull up the fish as soon as the line reached the bottom. What do you think I caught? A young shark weighing about 12lbs, of course they killed him. We lunched on the rocks and returned about 4. On the way back I left my lunch with the fishes and then felt all right – it was more than anyone could stand watching and hearing all the others.

Our journey back on Monday was accomplished in the most perfect weather, which quite made up for our journey there. The perilous road did not seem so bad to me. I suppose I knew what was coming but that Paradise road is very alarming to look at. The most amusing part of the road is the various mails, they are left in the oddest places. In the bush there are several trees with little boxes attached and the guard or boy jumps down, leaves the mail and runs on again. Sometimes it is left by the roadside or just under a stone.

Today Harry and I have driven to Brighton races, such a funny, little comfy place about sixteen miles from here. I enjoyed the drive, which was very pretty but the sun was too hot and not a leaf of shade anywhere on the Course. When the sun blazes like today – I tell you it frightens you, unless you can get in the shade. We had no cover to our buggy but one or other of us held my parasol; in spite of that our faces are quite sore and such a colour. My nose catches it fine, all peeling. Harry is like a copper-coloured Indian.

I forgot to tell you of one awful nuisance on the island and that was the blowfly, like our large blue-bottles only they have a brown body. My dear they swarm and buzz in your room like a swarm of bees. I would go round with a towel killing them and one morning I spent half an hour like this. I found that they came down the chimney so I had a shawl pinned up over the opening and then before getting into bed, I and Harry had a grand slaughter. I held the candle while Harry took a thick towel and flopped them down. About ten corpses as a rule every night.

Tomorrow if the weather keeps like today we hope to start at 9 o’clock for Port Arthur, another old convict settlement and a lovely place. One of the large Sydney steamers goes on excursions there and it costs only 4/- for the day. If you have taken my advice and read For His Natural Life you will have a splendid description of Port Arthur.

My dear love to all from your loving sister Edith Warne


Pressland House
7 January 1890

My dearest Mother

Your letter on November 28thgladdened my 30th (as Alfred would put it) birthday yesterday. I am so sorry to hear you have been suffering from gout. I do hope you tried Harry’s remedy for it.

I shall be glad indeed if our house is let again. I should like a good long let for I am sure when we return to Brighton we shall take a small house outside Brighton for Middle Street will be rather expensive to keep up until we can get a little more money in again. So dear, if there is a chance, do not trouble to limit people to time for it is a splendid thing to get the rent paid.

(According to the Street Directories Harry Duke Warne was the occupant of 20 Middle Street from 1883 until his death in 1892. As well as being his home it was also where he ran his practice as a solicitor. In view of Warne’s passion for photography, it is interesting to note that William Friese-Greene (1855-1921) the inventor of Kinematograph, later occupied the house. He is said to have carried out experiments in colour photography while living there and a tablet commemorating him can now be seen affixed to the wall.)
copyright © J. Middleton. 
The entrance to 20 Middle Street, Brighton,
where Harry and Edith lived.
As regards leaving Hobart, I shall be sorry to go for I have grown very fond of the place and just now there is plenty going on. There is a man-of-war in and there are four more expected, then of course entertainments are given left and right for the officers.

Last Sunday we lunched and spent the afternoon with Lady Dobson. My dear the lunch was a treat, home cooking and serving and the table clean and no flies. You can’t think how sick you got of the food at all the public places, always the same heavy fruits and hot puddings and the coffee (the name is a farce) all that you can say is that it is warm and wet. We spent a very pleasant afternoon, Dobson (Sir Lambert is Chief Justice) and his brother who is staying there are enthusiastic photographers so that Harry is in his element. They made him take two groups of us and watched him develop. You must know that Harry’s fame as a platinotypeist has spread through Hobart and the photographers are very excited over his pictures. They had before the feeblest idea of platino type and he has given one of the leading photographers a few lessons and lent them some paper. The results are now shown in the window as something quite new. Harry and I are invited to go there on Wednesday evening for whist and music and on Friday afternoon I have been requested to supply a few songs for her At Home.

(Platino type was a method of developing prints by immersion in a solution to which platinum salt had been added. It was quicker than the silver printing process but it was expensive because of the platinum. It also required the use of special paper purchased direct from the Platino Type Company and which needed to be stored with some care. Willis brought the platinum process to great perfection in England, taking out his first patent in 1878 and his third in 1880. A contemporary opinion of the process was as follows:- ‘it must be conceded that the artistic effect in a perfect platinum print is superior to any other kind of photograph’.)

Lizzie Sanderman has written once, she gets on fairly well but has had a very rough time of it. She had to turn out of her hut on January 1st as it was sold over her head and until her house arrives in the middle of this month, she has to make a move to a rough little hut just erected for the time being. However she evidently means to make the best of it. All the furniture (called bush furniture) is made of packing boxes and boards just nailed together with sacks on the chairs to make them a little softer. She says Christmas Day was a disgrace to civilization, not a soul sober except herself and brother and two people she boarded with at that time.

By the bye we are reading dreadful accounts of the influenza epidemic. I trust Brighton will escape, we read anxiously every day.

Love to you all from your ever loving daughter Edith Warne

(The Asiatic influenza pandemic of 1889-1890 was first reported in Russia in May but did not arrive in the Caucasus until October. In early December it reached London and by February had spread to India and by March to Australia.)


Pressland House
15 January 1890

My Dearest Clara,

Your December 5thletter arrived on Monday for which let us thank you very much. I suppose a day or two after you must have received my first Hobart letters.

I am hot and busy with my packing, we leave on Friday for Sydney. I loathe moving on and packing. It seems such a pity to leave Hobart, everyone is so kind and anxious to make our visit pleasant. We are going to send one of our packing cases home with a lot of Harry’s clothes and books etc. He also sends some of his photography.

Yesterday Harry and I went with the Dobsons for a picnic. I think I told you that the two Dobsons were photographers, so all three cameras went and we had a lovely drive along the Huon road for about fourteen miles. This road runs round some part of Mount Wellington and we went into the woods a little higher and had some lovely peeps of scenery.

On Monday evening we went to a reception at Government House at which the chief attraction was an Indian Prince. Mrs Montgomery kindly offered to introduce him to me but I thought I wouldn’t and when Harry heard of it he thought I was an awful fool. The fact of the matter was he was surrounded by a lot of people talking and staring at him and I felt I shouldn’t care for them. The Prince knows very little English and looked rather bored but his dress was very picturesque.

I enjoyed the Dobsons’ At Home pretty well although it was rather slow. There were a great many people over 50 but only five did any music. My songs were rather a success. The dresses were tremendous; it would be a very expensive place to live in I think, the people dress so much.

On Thursday we had a hot wind and it has been boiling since. Oh! I shall never forget it, the papers gave the heat as 97 in the shade, 136 in the sun; we tried it but did not make it come to that. Every breath of air was like a puff from an oven. They only have about eight days like that as a rule in the summer.

I have packed my big case today and now only have the Saratoga and portmanteau besides Harry’s things, it’s beastly work. Travelling I can quite imagine being delightful with a maid and a courier. Well, I must bring this letter to an end.

(A Saratoga trunk was an American term for a large travelling trunk and takes its name from Saratoga Springs, a resort in New York State.)

Ever dear Clara, yours lovingly, Edith Warne    
The signature of Edith Warne


Since I transcribed these letters in 1982 in England, they have been deposited in the National Archives of Australia.
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