history

BLUNDELL’S COTTAGE - 1860

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The Ginn family
The Ginn family were the first residents of the Cottage. They lived there from about 1860 until 1874. William Ginn (1821-1904) was born in Hertfordshire, England. He came to Australia as an assisted immigrant in 1857 with his wife Mary Wade and two children Walter and Henry. They were immediately recruited by George Campbell of Duntroon, where William worked as a ploughman.
In 1860 George Campbell built the stone cottage for William Ginn who was regarded as an excellent employee. He also rented 90 acres of land to the Ginn family. Two more children were born to William and Mary after their arrival at Duntroon – Agnes in 1858 and Gertrude in 1865.  Agnes later married Thomas Lawson and lived in a property called Maudale in Berrima. Gertrude did not marry and when Agnes's husband died in 1929 both women returned to Canberra to live. Agnes died in 1946 and Gertrude in 1953 at the age of 87. An obituary in The Canberra Times gave an outline of Gertrude's life
The Blundell family
When William Ginn left the cottage in 1874 George Campbell rented the house to George Blundell who was his bullock driver. The family lived there for the next 60 years. George Blundell (1846-1933) was born in the Canberra region. His father was Joseph Blundell who had arrived in Australia in 1826 as a convict. In 1827 he was assigned to Robert Campbell who was the owner of Duntroon at that time. He received his pardon in 1842 and soon after married Susan Osborne. The couple had eleven children.
George Blundell who was Joseph's third child married Flora McLennan (1844-1917), daughter of John Mclennan, a Scottish immigrant from the Isle of Skye who arrived in Australia in 1852 when Flora was only 7 years old. The family moved to the Barrington district near Maitland where John's uncle John McInnes lived.
Immediately after their wedding George and Flora moved into Blundell's Cottage and over the next fifteen years, they had eight children. Flora was the local community midwife. The family grew crops on the land surrounding the cottage and in 1893 one newspaper reported that “Mr. George Blundell has a magnificent crop and has already started haymaking.” In those days the house was known as “Poplar Grove”.
Because of their growing family, George and Flora in 1888 made extensive additions to the cottage. A new wing was added to the south and a verandah to the front. They became respected citizens of the Canberra district. When Flora died in 1917 An obituary was published in the Queanbeyan Age. George was one of the pioneers of the district who was chosen to be presented to the Duke of York when Parliament House was opened in 1927. George died in 1933 and the cottage was rented to the Oldfield family.
The Oldfield family
Harry Oldfield (1885-1942) and his wife Alice Matilda (1888-1958) moved into the cottage in 1933. They further developed the farm and supplied milk and eggs to the local community. Harry was a stockman from Yaouk, Adaminaby and was described as “a picturesque Monaro horseman reminiscent of figures in the late “Banjo” Patterson's verse.[18] His obituary described Harry in the following terms.
"Canberra people will remember the neatly dressed shepherd - dressed usually in jodhpurs with his beautiful black mare of Youah breed. They little knew of the amazing experiences of this man who had been station overseer, drover, and stockman.
Harry died in 1942 and Alice continued to live at the cottage. In 1957 The Australian Women's Weekly published an article on the residents of Canberra and one of those interviewed was Alice Oldfield who described her living conditions. The interviewer said.
"You wouldn't catch me living in any other place," Mrs. Oldfield told me, even though I have to chop up three tons of firewood each winter."
Alice died in 1958 and was buried in St John's Church in Reid.
Preservation
After Alice Oldfield died in 1958, the cottage was planned to be demolished. However, Sir William Holford proposed that the cottage be kept as a museum. The National Capital Development Commission renovated the cottage and it was managed as a museum by the Canberra and District Historical Society until 1990. The National Capital Authority manages Blundells Cottage as a museum open to the public.
Blundells Cottage is significant, being one of the few stone buildings of its type to have survived intact in the Australian Capital Territory. It is important for the way it reflects a way of life on a nineteenth-century agricultural estate.

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