Garden party for Glen Derwent’s 200th

Historic Glen Derwent, off Hamilton Rd at New Norfolk.

A REGENCY garden party will be held this Sunday (November 25) to mark the 200th birthday of the historic home Glen Derwent at New Norfolk. The convict-built mansion’s bicentenary will be celebrated with a festival of Regency-era food, history and activities held in conjunction with the Folk Federation of Tasmania.

Hidden behind hawthorn hedges and set in five hectares of park-like pasture and gardens bordered by Hamilton Rd and the River Derwent, the heritage-listed house will have its birthday celebrated in style. The oldest buildings on the property were built by Norfolk Island evacuees James and Elizabeth Bartlett as early as 1808, with the main house believed to have been completed around 1818.

Glen Derwent and its outbuildings in the early 20th century.

Glen Derwent owner Liz Virtue said the all-inclusive entry price for Sunday’s celebration included entertainment, activities and all-day sweet and savoury food of the era as well as hot and cold drinks.

“We have been researching period treats and will be serving Banbury cakes, Shrewsbury biscuits, Queen cakes, scones, soups and other mouthwatering items for your delectation.  Experience some good old-fashioned hospitality!” Mrs Virtue said.

Organiser David Wanless said the event promised to be an exciting and delightful day for the whole family. “We have an exciting program of activities, including Regency dancing, live period music, croquet, historic tours, maypole dancing, horses and cart and period games,” he said.

The house pictured around 1880.

Fellow organiser Cathleen Hutchinson said period attire would be admired but is not required.  “If you can manage it, even just a nice hat and waistcoat, or some easy modifications to an opp shop dress, will mean you can have even more fun,” Ms Hutchinson said.

“We find that when people dress up in any kind of costume they release some of their inhibitions, that conversations can be easier, and that friendships develop. However, it is entirely optional,” she said.

The event will feature music by Tasmanian composers Henry Mundy and Alexander Laing. Laing is of particular interest as he lived in New Norfolk and composed many of his original tunes here, including one dedicated to the lady of Glen Derwent, titled Mrs William Downie’s Hornpipe.

Activities on the day will include:

  • Tours of the historic property.
  • Croquet (both competitive games and “come and try” sessions) on the croquet lawn.
  • Learning and playing games of skittles, quoits, boules and the Game of Graces.
  • Maypole dancing, lead by Fiddle and Squeeze.
  • Photo opportunities with a horse and cart.
  • Live period music by Van Diemen’s Angels.
  • An easy Regency social dance.
  • Regency dance workshop with John and Aywlen Gardiner-Garden of the Earthly Delights Historic Dance Academy.
  • Indoor games.
  • Promenading the grounds of the historic property.
  • Regency period sweet and savoury food and hot and cold drinks all day.

Tickets cost $49 ($45 concession, $20 children) and can be purchased at
Information is also available at

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