"WOLFDENE" MORNINGTON, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA: PUB &MURDER,RESIDENCE & TRANSIT OF VENUS, SCHOOL, CAMP.
I will leave it up to readers to research the use of Wolfdene by the military during W.W.2 and as a tourist destination, as there is little genealogy involved.
Links will have to be copied and pasted into your search bar to get maps and articles because I am just plain exhausted. This journal arose from a history that I compiled about the Village Glen sites at Rosebud West and between Strachans and Wilsons Rds at Mornington.
In short, Wolfdene began as the Mornington Hotel on crown allotment 46, parish of Moorooduc, between Brewery road (now Nunns Rd)and Adelaide St houseblocks, in the late 1850's. In mid December 1867, the licensee applied to transfer the licence to a house he was leasing in Main St, Mornington and a week later the building and 26.5 acres of land were offered for sale. Professor Wilson, after whom Wilsons Rd was named, may have bought it then and in 1874 he observed the transit of Venus, possibly from Venice Reserve, and died shortly afterwards. The property was leased by Mr Backhouse who ran the Mornington Grammar School on the Wolfdene property, which was sold by the Wilson trustees in 1882. The property was subdivided in 1920 and Naples St was first mentioned in 1929 in a family notice.
THE TRANSIT OF VENUS.
WP Wilson: an Australian casualty of the 1874 transit of ...
May 9, 2012
By Nick Lomb
Woldene as it looks today. Thanks to the care of past and present owners, its appearance is almost unchanged from the time when Professor William Parkinson Wilson lived in this house at Mornington, Victoria, Australia, in the 1870s. Image and copyright Nick Lomb ©, all rights reserved
Yesterday (8 May 2012) I visited Mornington, a small town about 50 km south of Melbourne that is beautifully situated on the shore of Port Phillip Bay, to talk about the transit of Venus to the Mornington & District Historical Society. Of course, I began with William Parkinson Wilson, professor of mathematics at Melbourne University, who observed the 1874 transit from Mornington.
Wilson was born in Peterborough, Northamptonshire, England. The exact date does not appear to be known, but he was baptised on 1 February 1826. After attending a local grammar school, he went on to Cambridge as a sizar (a student who does some work in lieu of fees). There he was most successful, completing the Mathematical Tripos as Senior Wrangler. The Senior Wrangler was the top student in mathematics at the end of the third year undergraduate degree. They were highly celebrated and their names reported in the newspapers. Other Senior Wranglers include some of the best known people in the history of science such as John Herschel, Lord Rayleigh and Arthur Eddington.
In 1854 he was offered the position of professor of mathematics at the newly established University of Melbourne. He arrived at the end of January in the following year and gave the very first lecture at the university on 13 April. As well as mathematics Wilson taught physics including astronomy and set up a course in engineering.
Professor Wilson lived in rooms at the university, but he also maintained a house at Mornington. The house, named Wolfdene, had been built in 1858 and during its long history has had various uses including as a hotel and as a boarding school. In Wilson’s time access to Mornington was not easy, as it was only on horseback or by water, so he would normally only have stayed there out of university term.
On the day of the transit, like at Melbourne, the weather was poor at Mornington as there were ‘Dense clouds, with thunder and lightning.’ Though Wilson ‘had given up all hope’, he still set up the equipment in readiness at his observing site. He pointed the 4½ -inch (11.5-cm) Troughton & Simms telescope to where he expected the Sun to be and waited. Eventually, the clouds cleared sufficiently so that he could make out one edge of the Sun. Five minutes before internal contact he noted that the part of Venus off the Sun was outlined ‘by a narrow luminous arc.’ Three and a half hours later, just before egress or Venus moving off the Sun, the sky cleared though the clarity of view was not as good as previously.
Nick Lomb at Mornington’s Venice Reserve, a possible site for Professor Wilson’s observations of the 9 December 1874 transit of Venus. Image and copyright Nick Lomb ©, all rights reserved
Strangely, the location of Professor Wilson’s observing site is unclear. It would be logical to assume that he observed from his home, which at that time had extensive associated grounds. However, as has been pointed out to me by Ian Sullivan of the Mornington Peninsula Astronomical Society, the coordinates that Wilson gave in the report of his observations, centre on a small and little-known park in Mornington, called Venice Reserve. Prior to modern GPS receivers, determining longitude was notoriously difficult and the difference between the longitudes of Wolfdene and the reserve could well be within the errors. Latitude should have been easier to measure, yet the difference in latitude between Wolfdene and the park seems too great to be explained by measurement errors. So maybe, for unknown reasons, he decided to make his observations from Venice Reserve or its vicinity.
The gravestone of Professor William Parkinson Wilson in Mornington Cemetery. Image and copyright Nick Lomb ©, all rights reserved
Professor Wilson’s observations of the transit had a tragic ending. He had been in ill health for some time and after the transit complained about the heat and about being fatigued. Two days later his doctor was called by telegram to his Mornington home. Sadly, he died of a cerebral haemorrhage, a type of stroke, two hours before the doctor could reach him. Although what caused the stroke can never be known, it is reasonable to assume that the stress, excitement and exertion associated with the transit observations had contributed to the sad event. Like Chappe d’Auteroche in Mexico in the previous century, we can regard William Parkinson Wilson as a casualty of the transit of Venus.
HOW BIG WAS THE WOLFDENE ESTATE AT MORNINGTON?
Messrs. Byrne, Vale, and Co. report having sold
today, by public auction, at their rooms, Collins
street east, the following properties in the estate of
the late Professor Wilson, viz -Schnapper Point -
Marine family residence known as Wolfdene, together
with 26.5* acres of land, £900, allotment of land imme-
diately opposite the above, and facing Esplanade and
bay, containing 6a 1r 5p** , at £22 per acre, £138 3s.9d , Crown allotment 5 of section 23***. containing 74.5 acres, at £1 17s 6d. per acre. (P.6, Argus, 16-2-1882.)
*This is specified in the next advertisement as being c/a 46.
** See the earlier advertisement below. Opposite means across Nunns Rd. C/A 39 was 688 links (69 mm on Melway) along Nunns Rd from Wilsons Rd with a frontage of another 500 links. It can be stated emphatically that c/a 39 is now occupied by View St house blocks.
*** C/A 5, SECTION 23 indeed consisted of 74 acres 2 roods and was 1555 links (311 metres) south of Bentons Rd, and extending 1475 links (295 metres) farther south between Racecourse Rd and Balcombe Creek. Chateux Close and Jillian Way house blocks are just within the north and south boundaries.
THIS EARLIER ADVERTISEMENT IS WORTH INCLUDING because it confirms my belief that Wolfdene was crown allotment 46 between Alf Downward's Redwood and Nunns Rd., and it specifies the use of each room.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 15.
At Two O'Clock.
BEAUTIFUL MARINE RESIDENCE and GROUNDS
known as " WOLFDENE,"
Formerly occupied by the late Professor Wilson.
TWO BLOCKS OF LAND,
Containing 6.5 Acres and 74.5 Acres respectively.
To persons on the lookout for a Seaside Residence,
Squatters, Retired Gentlemen, and others.
BYRNE, VALE, and Co. have received instructions
from the trustees in the estate of the late
Professor Wilson to SELL by PUBLIC AUCTION,
at their rooms, 64 and 66 Collins street east, on
Wednesday, 16th February, 1882, at two o'clock.
Lot 1.-All that piece of land comprising Crown
Allotment 46, Parish of Moorooduc, county of Mornlngton, containing 26.5 ACRES 2 ROODS,
CLOSE to the Schnapper Point steamboat pier and
The land is laid out in lawn and flower garden,
kitchen garden, orchard, and paddocks ; the residence,
with verandah all round, contains dining and drawing
rooms, library, hall, 5? bedrooms, linen room, bath-
room, lumber room, kitchen, 2 pantries, servant's-
room, scullery; also detached kitchen, servant's room,
sitting room, billiard room, coachhouse, stable, harness-
room, and outbuildings.
Lot 2 comprises 6 a. 1 r. 5p.,being Crown Allotment 39, immediately opposite the residence, facing the Esplanade and bay.
Lot 3 contains 74a. 2r. being crown Allotment 5 of section 23.
Professor Wilson may have bought the Mornington Hotel in 1867 BUT HISTORY HAS TO MAKE SENSE!
If Professor Wilson had owned it from 1867 till 1882, how could Henry Howard's wife be running it in 1875 when Henry became a murderer.*
The only explanation would have to be that the licence had been transferred to new premises. AND IT WAS.
TO THE BENCH of MAGISTRATES, Mornington.
-I, HENRY HOWARD, the holder of a pub-
lican's licence for the house and premises known as
the Mornington Hotel, situated at Mornington, do
hereby give notlce that it is my intention to APPLY
to the justices, sitting at the Petty Sessions to be
holden at Mornington on Saturday, December 21, to
REMOVE the LICENCE and SIGN to a house now
rented by me, containing two slttingrooms and two
bedrooms, lately occupied by Mr. Cahill, bootmaker,
and situated in Main-street, Mornington.
Given under my hand, this seventh day of Decem-
ber, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-seven.
HENRY HOWARD. (P.8, Argus, 11-12-1867.)
The hotel was sold for 600 pounds about a week later.
*Henry Howard’s journey – from Mornington to Frankston to ...
I HAD A DREAM that Christopher Smith had told me that a Mr Wolfdene had bought the hotel and then my subconscious used the information that sons of Mr Kirk, barman at the Mornington Hotel had drowned to produce a sequel in which a Mr Wolfdene and his sons had perished in similar circumstances. That was why I sprang out of bed to search for a gentleman with this surname, Wolfdene being the only trove search term. My dreams are rubbish but always result in an amazing discovery when my curiosity is aroused. And here it is. I wonder if Mr Backhouse had been an acquaintance of the late Professor Wilson.
M0RNINGT0N GRAMMAR SCHOOL,
Wolfdene, Schnapper Point.
B. T. P. BACKHOUSE (Cornell University),
Assisted by a competent staff.
Special Advantages.-A spacious residence, com-
manding beautiful land and sea views; extensive play-
grounds (25 acres), unrivalled salubrity of climate,
home comforts, private dormitories.
Pupils are carefully prepared for the University
and public schools.
Reference is kindly permitted to the Hon. Mrs.
Bright*, Beleura, and to other parents of pupils.
Prospectus on application to principal, or Messrs.
Mullen and Robertson.
DUTIES RESUMED JULY 28.
(P.28, The Australasian, 19-7-1879.)
*Mrs Charles Bright was the daughter of Sir John Manners- Sutton, the Governor of Victoria, after whom Sidney Smith Crispo named his private village (in today's Blairgowrie) just west of Canterbury Jetty Rd, MANNERS-SUTTON, later renaming it Canterbury when Sir John became Viscount Canterbury. Sir John often visited his daughter and that is why Beleura blurbs and guides refer to Beleura having been a Vice Regal residence.
1920 SUBDIVISION OF WOLFDENE.
The subdivision of the property was probably the result of this expected death.
ZICHY-WOINARSKI.-On the 5th April, at Wood's Point, Slanislaus K. A. Zichy-Woinarski, formerly
of Ballarat, loved husband of Mrs. F. D.Zichy-Woinarski, "Wolfdene," Mornington.
(P., Argus, 7-4-1920.)
THIS SATURDAY (MARCH l8).
On the Property. At Half-past Two O'Clock.
In a Seated Marquee.
MORNINGTON, Close Fishermen's
WOLFDENE ESTATE. WOLFDENE ESTATE
69 CHOICE ALLOTMENTS. 69,
69 CHOICE ALLOTMENTS 69.
WILSON'S ROAD, BREWERY ROAD, NAPLES,VENICE*, and NEPTUNE STREETS.
SUPERIOR W.B. VILLA, "WOLFDENE,"
About 10 Rooms, Bathroom, Return Verandah, W.B.Garage, Stables, Workshop, Laundry, Man's Room, &c.; Asphalt Tennis-court, in Perfect Order. Well Supplied with Water. Numerous Tanks and Underground Well, LAND, About 2.5 Acres .
WILSON'S ROAD (on Lot 7),-. "NANYLTA,"
Newly Erected W'.B. Cottage, All Lined with 3-ply Wood, Containing 5 Rooms, Verandah, Gas
Laid On, Gas-stove. LAND about 07 x 200. A Really Nice Seaside Cottage, in Thorough Order.
At the SAME TIME Will be SOLD for REMOVAL, A QUAINT JAPANESE TEAHOUSE,Imported from Japan, and Erected in Sections, with Shingle Roof; Cane Tables and Chairs.
Most Suitable for the Grounds of a Seaside Home, and is Quite Unique,
Also will be Offered at the Same Time (as it doesn't state "on the same account" or where on Pt Nepean Rd the almost 20 acres were, I have not bothered correcting the text.)
(P.2, Argus, 10-3-1920.)
*The Zichy-Woinarski family which had owned the Wolfdene property since 1901** was proud of its aristocratic Polish/Hungarian ancestry which had led to a relative's farm between Elizabeth Avenue and Truemans Rd, Rosebud West being given the noble name of Woyna, but even though they may have heard Alfred Downward, (of "Redwood" between Wolfdene and Pt Nepean Rd) speak about Venus, they might have thought he meant Venice and adopted a Mediterranean theme for their street names.
**Mr Stookes, of Mornington, has disposed of his handsome property "Wolfdene" to Dr Wionarski of Ballarat, at a very satisfactory price. It is Mr Stookes intention to remove to Melbourne.
(P.2, Mornington Standard, 10-10-1901.)
on 2020-03-17 21:23:14
Itellya is researching local history on the Mornington Peninsula and is willing to help family historians with information about the area between Somerville and Blairgowrie. He has extensive information about Henry Gomm of Somerville, Joseph Porta (Victoria's first bellows manufacturer) and Captain Adams of Rosebud.