The Hardwick Site

Laurie Chapman Chauncy

Married to George Cornwall Hardwick

As I sit here writing on 26th January 2011 with Queensland recovering from disastrous floods, and flooding still going on in the southern states, memories come back from stories my mother-in-law told us of being marooned by sticky mud for six weeks at a time if they spent summer at home at Yarraman Park in North West Queensland. One of these summers was the 1918 cyclone which killed eighty people in North Queensland.

Laurie was the eldest child of Emma and Bob Chauncy and like her brothers and sisters born in Victoria on their Wodonga family property and grew up at Yarraman Park in North West Queensland sixty miles west of Charters Towers. Laurie in her early years had a governess, and I have heard stories that her younger sisters gave these governesses a hard time, especially Madge who would rather be out riding horses with her brothers, than be confined to a classroom. When Laurie was older she was sent to St Mary’s boarding school in Charters Towers for a few years but never enjoyed being separated from the family and in a Roman Catholic school felt she wasn’t accepted because she was a protestant. Laurie, unlike her brothers and sisters, was not a farm girl and liked to travel south to visit her widely scattered aunts and uncles, her maternal grandparents in Albury and her paternal grandmother in Sydney. We know from electoral rolls Yarraman Park was considered her home address [1]. In 1914 Laurie was in Sydney and a witness at her sister Beatrice’s wedding [2]. Her mother was missing her and her support and wrote sending money for her to come home and go to the Show [3].

World War I was commencing and Laurie’s brothers and friends were joining up. Conditions were changing at home: Laurie’s brother Campbell had to come to Brisbane for hospital treatment; her father Bob Chauncy was losing his eyesight; money was tight and a drought was killing off the horses on which they relied for their income. Laurie’s mother took over some of the work done by the young men who had gone to war, taking the working rig into her own hands and getting her own horse brand, as well as owning horses and dealing in property. This wasn’t sufficient to satisfy the courts who took possession of a large number of her horses to help cover her husband’s debts. Laurie’s fiancée was serving in France and was killed at Villers-Bretonneux. His body was never found and Laurie was devastated, taking years to recover. She used to refer to him as the unknown soldier. Her father gave her his copy of Alfred Tennyson’s poems. By 1920 Yarraman Park was sold and the family moved back to Wodonga.

Laurie continued to visit her family and friends, and when visiting her Aunt Beatrice at Rockley met the handsome young bank clerk George Hardwick. In 1926 they were married at St Philips, York Street in Sydney. The little town of Rockley was delighted for the couple who had found romance in their town and gave them a shower tea. Laurie was very sure she did not want to live in the country and George accepted a position at Punchbowl. They were so pleased with the suburb they bought a block of land with the intention of building a home. Their two sons were born while they were living at Punchbowl: Alfred Robert (known as Robert) in 1928 named after his two grandfathers, and Laurie John in 1930. In the 1930s they moved to Northbridge still living in bank accommodation. About this time the municipal council of Punchbowl resumed most of their land in Punchbowl to their disappointment. It was to be many years before they felt confident to attempt to build their own home. They liked living in Northbridge and turned down opportunities to go to the country. Laurie was very romantic and enjoyed novels and movies especially musicals with Jeannette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, and telling romantic tales of knights and ladies. George thought boys should grow up bush walking and swimming in the local baths and playing football, which did lead to some clashes which all survived without too much damage.

World War II brought an end to this peaceful life; housing was short and there followed ten years of living in small flats over banks first at Gladesville then at Lane Cove. With the end of the war and an increase in prosperity Laurie and George decided to build their own home and bought a block of land in Little Street, Lane Cove next door to Pottery Green Oval. Both had received some money from family estates and the pooled amount was enough to build a spacious brick bungalow which, with the help of their son Laurie [4] was built in 1952. Laurie was not well and, unknown to her family and herself, had developed cancer. Laurie lived another four years during which time her two eldest grandchildren Helen and David Hardwick were born. Laurie died in 1958 and was survived by her husband George and her two sons both of whom married. There were nine grandchildren, seven of whom survived to adulthood and had families of their own.


[1] Electoral Rolls Queensland for 1913, 1919, 1920.
[2] St Benedict’s, George St West, Sydney, 5 Aug 1914.
[3] Surviving letter from Emma Chauncy in the possession of Margaret Hardwick.
[4] Laurie Hardwick trained as a carpenter after leaving school and in time became a master builder building homes on the North Shore of Sydney and later at Coffs Harbour where he finally settled.

Margaret Hardwick, 2011

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