The first people to live in the region of Clarence were the Moomairremener Tasmanian Aboriginal people. After European colonization, large sections of land in the Clarence district were farmed; mostly cereal crops with light livestock grazing. The soil of the Clarence Plains was regarded particularly favourable, with Reverend Robert Knopwood proclaiming “a very delightful place, where they grew some of the finest wheat ever grown in V.D. Land” (1814).

Clarence House was built in the early 1830s by William Nichols – “master builder and overseer of convicts” – who had substantial holdings in the district of the Clarence Plains Rivulet. The house itself was built in two stages, whereas the adjoining stables began construction in 1826 and were not finished until 1928. Clarence House was sold at auction in 1844 following failed business ventures in windmills by William Nichol’s son. It eventually passed on to the Chipman family who remained farming the valley until Charles Chipman’s death in 1955.

The ownership by the Tsamassiros family, culminating in a fire allegedly started by squatters in 1973. It was then restored by the Kline family, followed by the McGuigan and Newman families until the property was acquired by the Kilpatrick family in 1993.

The stables are in near original condition and the house boasts a fascinating history, having been continually occupied since 1832 (except for three years during restoration after the fire) with detailed historical references, including a collection of diaries during the 1850s. The building itself is three storeys, sandstone construction, entered into the Register of National Estate and formally added to the Heritage Listing in 1998. It is an excellent example of early Georgian architecture, constructed from sandstone quarried on site, retaining many features, including the original bread oven and cellar. The main facades have been unaltered since photographs taken in the late 1800s.

Clarence House 1860-1914

The Chipman family at their home, Clarence House, Rokeby, about 1885. Left: Corbetta hiding in the bushes, Kate and Edith, father Charles at rear, Robert, mother Corbetta with Daisy, Edward, Mary, Charles, and Reginald.

Courtesy Doug Chipman