The Howitt family’s life in the inner city in pre-goldrush times

Cheryl Griffin’s latest article in CBD News has just been published – all about of a little ramshackle house that could have been found in Spring Street for over 50 after it was built in 1840.

When Godfrey Howitt, his brother Richard and other members of their family, decided to settle in Port Phillip in April 1840, Godfrey and Richard brought a home and that is what you see here.

His prefabricated wooden cottage fronted Spring St in the south-east corner of the CBD and his land, bought in June 1840, ran from Collins St to Flinders Lane. As well as this cottage, Howitt had a large garden, well known to early Melburnians. A practical man, he had thought ahead and brought with him seeds and fruit trees so he could establish a productive garden. The garden was a great success and here he grew delicious melons, figs and grapes, among other things.

Howitt was 40 years old when he arrived in Melbourne and already had an established medical career. He had been a physician at the Nottingham General Hospital and in Melbourne was associated with a number of medical concerns including the Melbourne Hospital and the Benevolent Asylum. Like his brothers, who also came to Victoria, he had wide-ranging scientific and philosophical interests and he was well regarded as a botanist and entomologist. From a Quaker background, he was a philanthropist, too, often working for no fee and leaving his natural history collection and library to the Melbourne Museum and establishing scholarships in Natural History at the University of Melbourne.

To read the full story in CBD News click here