St Mark's College- Henry Watson's House

St Mark's College- Henry Watson's House

Dwarfed by the grand residences of the late 19th century and the nearby St Peters Cathedral, this cottage has survived from the earliest days of the colony. The original house was a prefabricated timber dwelling, or “portable colonial cottage”, made by Henry Manning of High Holborn, London, and erected on Pennington Terrace in 1839. The building shows the piecemeal development of early Australian houses, the later brickwork now totally encasing the original timber house.

Henry Watson, brother-in-law and business associate of the prominent South Australian colonist John Barton Hack, arrived with his family in South Australia in March 1839, bringing with him a Manning house. Hack had come to the colony in early 1837 when there were few building improvements in Adelaide, but by the time the Watsons arrived he had built a fine two-storey stone house in Hindley Street (a desirable address at that time) and the Watson family moved in.

The family was not thrilled with the thought of occupying the Manning house. In May 1839, Watson wrote “We have not yet decided whether to erect it on the South Terrace or in North Adelaide, in the hopes of selling it and the land ... It is now no longer necessary to bring wooden houses.” In June he recorded that he was in the process of erecting the house on Pennington Terrace and shortly afterwards it was advertised for sale.

With the onset of economic difficulties in the colony in the early 1840s, Watson was unable to sell the property for a good price and his family was forced to live in the house during the winter of 1840. He complained to a relative in England: “Pray advise everyone you have any influence with not to commit the absurdity of bringing a house out with him. They are to [be] bought here cheaper than in London.”

By July the house had been surrounded by a brick-paved veranda, and by late 1840 the Watsons, “having been almost broiled” during the summer, had the building encased in a brick veneer. It was eventually sold to E. Trimmer, and later bought by George Morphett, in 1848. Other private owners lived there before it finally became part of St Mark’s, which has renovated the building.

The house was originally a four-roomed cottage but only the front two rooms retain evidence of the typical Manning panelling. The gabled roof structure and loft are still hidden behind the brick parapet.


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The building is of great architectural and historical significance, both within the setting of St Mark’s College and to the landscaped character of Pennington Terrace.

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See also

Images of St Mark's College- Henry Watson's House

Henry Manning
Building materials
Brick, Timber
Architectural styles
1 Old Colonial Period (1788–c. 1840)
1839 -  

Additional Works

Brick veneer added to exterior

Construction commenced
Construction completed
Architecture and design features
parapet, prefabricated
Engineering features
Lower North Adelaide
Council Ward
Alternative Addresses
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
Henry Watson
Original occupant
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Dwelling, House
AS2482 classification
16010 - House
Public Access
Limited public access
State Heritage ID
ACC Reference No.
DPTI Heritage No.
Certificate of Title No.
CT 5778/198 F183380 A108
NTSA file exists
Heritage Status
State Heritage listed
State heritage listing
State Heritage listed
Date of State heritage listing
Local heritage listing
Date of Local heritage listing
NTSA listing
NTSA classified
Date of NTSA listing
Section 23 (4) crtiteria
Risk status
Historic Themes
2.2.1 Early Colonial Settlement
2.3 City Dwellers: Householders, Boarders and Tenants
George Morphett, George Young
Australian Curriculum references
Year 5: The Australian Colonies


  • ACA, Assessments, Smith Survey 1880; Cockburn, R., Pastoral pioneers of South Australia, Vol. 1, 1925, pp. 122-3; Gilbert, S.H., & Berry, D.W., 'Regional pioneer building techniques', Project 9 of the National Estate Programme 1975/1976; Morgan, E.J.R., & Gilbert, S.H., Early Adelaide architecture 1836 to 1886, 1969, pp. 98-9.

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