Who was Nellie Payne?

Westfield entrance hall panelling. Carved 1917.

DB80, DB81, DB82, DB83

Westfield was the place of Nellie’s birth near Westbury, Tasmania.

“Ellen Nora Payne-Woodcarver of Tasmania” by Russell Atkinson
Her stay at Westfield helped, for she loved Westfield, with its beauty and serenity and happy memories; and the house itself contained a number of carvings which she had done for it in the past.
To see them she needed to go no further than the entrance hall — a place of grace and distinction.

Westfield’s entrance hall is itself a piece from the elegant past. It is almost square, and the graceful fanlight of the front door is repeated over an inner archway opposite. All round, the hall is panelled six feet high in dark polished blackwood, the tops of the panels being carved to a depth of eight or ten inches. At intervals, projecting on ornamental knobs, are a series of small gargoyles or `devils’, which Mrs. Payne had once copied from those on Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. She had been at infinite pains to make them authentic, and had presented them to her brother, Mr. R. C. Field, who was then living at Westfield. The gar­goyles, a unique form of decoration as so used, blend kindly and un­obtrusively into the panelling.

Through a door on the right can be seen a portion of the small recep­tion room with its handsome mantelpiece supported at the corners by two larger gargoyles, also copied from Notre Dame.

Over that door and the one opposite to it there were, when Mrs. Payne was last there, two decorative overdoors — ornamental panels placed above the doorways. These she had given to Mr. and Mrs. Field in 1917 to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary. They had been greatly prized and admired by her brother and his family. They were carved in a grapevine pattern, each with two small raised panels.

One overdoor bore the name ‘Westfield’, with the names of the two original owners of the property in separate tablets:
1825                                                  1836
W. M. Field                                           T. W. Field

The other overdoor displayed three mottoes in Latin, which had been taken from an ancient door in Portsmouth, England.

Over the top ran the words `Pax Intrantibus’ (Peace to all who enter). The left-hand panel read ‘Salus exeuntibus’ (Safety to all who go out), and the panel on the right read Benedictio habitantibus’ (Blessings on the dwellers).

When Westfield was eventually sold in 1946, members of the Field family agreed among themselves that the sale should not include certain fittings and decorations which, it was felt, had a purely personal or family association. Among the articles so removed and distributed before the sale were the overdoor panels; but years later nobody could remem­ber what had become of them. Eventually it was discovered that Mr. Tom Field, of St. Leonards, had carefully removed them and stored them in his cellar. Since then it has been suggested that the panels might be restored, as historic objects, to their places above the Westfield door­ways, Mr. and Mrs. Wadley, the new owners, consenting.

The long, leisurely days in the country, among her old haunts and surrounded by her old friends, gave Mrs. Payne the rest and respite she had needed. Soon she was facing life again in the old way, and looking forward to doing better and even more ambitious work. She was back in Hobart again, out among her friends, and taking part in the social activities which had always been a part of her life. She did a little enter­taining, and began to play bridge again, a game at which she had always excelled.