Henry and Sarah Hopkins sailed from Gravesend on the Heroine on the 17th April in 1822. Almost five months later on the 10th of September they arrived at Hobart in Tasmania on the other side of the world. It had been a difficult passage, bad weather forcing the passengers below deck for three months, some were very seasick. Under these conditions strong friendships were formed with other passengers. George and Martha Clarke remained close friends for life even though the Clarke’s continued on to Sydney and then New Zealand. Four days out of Hobart Sarah gave birth to a son, they called him Henry.
In 1804 Lieutenant Colonel David Colllins chose Sullivans Cove as the location for Tasmania’s first permanent European settlement. The cove had a narrow sandy beach with a rivulet flowing into the north east end. There was also a small island connected to the beach with a sandy spit at low tide. The new settlement was named Hobart Town.
By the time Sarah and Henry with their new born son arrived at Hobart Town in 1822 the island was connected to the mainland by a causeway. Further reclamation meant that by the mid 1820’s substantial stone warehouses for merchants had been built. These beautiful sandstone buildings can still be seen on Hunter Street, we will point them out to you when you join one of our colonial house and garden tours.
Learn more of this interesting family history on a Summerhome Heritage House and Garden tour in Hobart. Meet Henry and Sarah’s great great great granddaughter as she guides you through her beautiful private house and garden.
In the center of the garden is this large specimen of Cupressus funebris, commonly called the chinese weeping cypress. Planted trees which are said to be 800 years old grow at Black Dragon Pool Mountain Temple near Kunming, Yunnan, China. It’s conservation status is listed as vulnerable to threatened. Cupressus funebris is generally regarded as the botanical source of Chinese cedarwood oil and is highly regarded for furniture makeing.
Early plant collectors in China observed it to be a noble looking fir-tree with weeping branches. It’s long and slender branches hanging down perpendicularly and giving the whole tree a weeping and graceful form.
It is reputed that the ‘willow pattern’ tableware we all know so well originates from this beautiful weeping cypress.
We have three Cupressus funebris growing at Summerhome, the largest is situated right in the middle of the garden. There have always been gardeners working in Summerhome garden and for many years they sat under the weeping cypress for their breaks.
Mr Seager was the main gardener when I was a child. My grandmother would make up a tray with teapot, small jug of milk, cup and saucer and a plate of food. I would be asked to take it down to Seager’s tree. I must admit that for many years I thought the cypress was called a ‘seagers tree. Or was it named after the Seager family who lived in Deptford England where Henry and Sarah Hopkins lived before they moved to Tasmania in 1822 .
The family also called this Cupressus funebris the ‘gardeners tree’. If you join a Summerhome house and garden tour you will see why the gardeners liked to sit there for their breaks. It’s a lovely sunny dry spot in the winter, cool and shady in the heat of summer.