Hidden amongst our city buildings, you may have driven past Miss Porter’s House, a hundred times without realizing it was there. It’s an unsuspecting National Trust property nestled in-between buildings on King Street in Newcastle.
It really is a unique space, not only because it features a beautiful fernery on the Eastern side of the home (a rare find in renovated homes throughout the city), but the house and its contents have been left exactly the way they were lived in, spanning generations of the Porter family who occupied the home. The home and all items within the home were left to National Trust by Miss Hazel Porter.
Originally built by Herbert Porter in 1909, this split-level home was occupied by the Porter family until as recent as 1997. The home and all items within the home were then left to National Trust by Miss Hazel Porter. The home and its contents have lived through the twentieth century, and survived the infamous Newcastle Earthquake, but just barely!
After a recent visit to Fort Scratchley, my almost 6-year-old daughter has taken quite an interest in visiting historical places around Newcastle. In a time where everything is automated and life feels incredibly convenient with the current technologies we have, she has found a keen interest in seeing how people used to live ‘in the olden days’.
We were met by Jean Bridges, one of the museum’s curators, who was kind enough to take us through Miss Porter’s home. An enthusiastic ‘keeper’ of the home, she was a wealth of knowledge on the house and a keen guide.
Jean, along with a dedicated house committee team run Miss Porter’s house, and on Museum Open days, a room guide can be found in each room of the house to entertain you with facts and stories of the home.
My daughter talks 1000 words a minute and Jean kept right up with her, regaling wonderful stories and facts about each item in the home.
To keep children engaged, the house committee is always thinking of ideas and activities to entertain the children who visit Miss Porter’s House. During our visit, my daughter was given a set of photo cards (items photographed within the home) to play a fun game. Using the photo cards with clues, we went from room to room, looking for patterns and signs, ticking off our finds as we go. A game of ‘history-bingo’ if you will!
Many of the room-guides were once teachers themselves and have a knack for keeping the children engaged in the rich history. The home itself is very appealing to children, being aligned with the school curriculum for Years One and Two.
From the minute you walk in, you immediately take a step back in time. It’s a beautiful mash-up of treasured items, spanning early 1900s right up to the 1980s.
My daughter’s favourite room had to be both bedrooms upstairs. Being a girl who loves to dress up, she was enamored by all the handmade dresses and handbags that belonged to the women of the house.
Brushes, combs, powder puffs and detailed antique mirrors line the dressing tables. There is a lot to take in, and you could spend an afternoon looking at a thousand things that have been lovingly cared for by the Committee who looks after the home.
The house feels like a home and not a museum. Treasured items out on display, and not locked away behind glass cases like we are used to seeing in museums.
Our visit to Miss Porter’s House has made us return to our own home and take a good look around. We have found ourselves discussing which important items of ours will be around 100 years from now, and what future generations will think of our home one day. It’s great food for thought for both myself and my daughter!
Miss Porter’s House is open every 2nd Sunday of each month (February – December) and Australia Day 1 – 4 pm.
- National Trust members (and children under 5 yrs) – Free
- Adults – $10
- Concession – $8
- Family – $25
For more information about Miss Porter’s House, visit the National Trust website.
Jenna moved to Newcastle from South Africa 3 years ago, which has allowed her to experience the city with a fresh perspective. As mum to a wonderfully wild daughter who shares her passion for fun and adventure, they spend their time getting to know the city mostly on foot and bicycle, which affords Jenna an opportunity to bond with the city more intimately. Follow Jenna’s adventures on her Instagram account ‘Newy Kind of Life’ in which she shares her passion for Newcastle and its lifestyle through her photography and writing.