Excavation of this site took place between 15 November 2004 and January 2005 with some additional work on the well on 28 February 2005. The client was Landcom, an agency of the NSW Government. Significant Aboriginal archaeology was also undertaken on this site by Jo McDonald Cultural Heritage Management.
Rev. Rowland Hassall was given a grant of 1 acre by Governor John Hunter, 18 October 1799. Rowland Hassall and his wife Elizabeth had arrived in Tahiti as a missionary with the London Missionary Society but had fled to New South Wales where he continued to preach, as well as acquire land and government posts. He was government storekeeper and was in charge of the granary at Parramatta until his dismissal in September 1802 for not discovering the fraud. His preaching veered towards Methodism, but he retained a strong working relationship with Anglican priests such as Rev. Samuel Marsden. He confined his preaching to his home in Parramatta where the barn served as the place for services. He also opened a store to supply settlers. In 1814, he was appointed as superintendent of Government Stock. His acquisitions of land were a boon to his large family. Not only did he endow them with land, he also passed on his religious convictions and fervour. There were to be many ministers with the surname Hassall in New South Wales over the next century.
The archaeological investigation at 109-113 George Street, Parramatta found remains associated with the 78-year occupation of the site between c1804 and 1882. The site was considerably disturbed by 20th-century building activities as well as the extensive demolition of the early buildings on the site in 1882 where the building materials were sold off leaving little reaming of the main house.
The structural remains found at the site mostly relate to the occupation by Rowland and Elizabeth Hassall (c1804-1834). Following Elizabeth’s death (1834) the property was leased out. Rowland Hassall was a missionary and he and his wife and children fled from Tahiti to New South Wales in 1798. Among the tenants were the Mills family who operated a school there in the 1840s and the Griffiths who also operated a school there in the 1850s and 1860s.
The surviving remains included:
- The base of the cellar of the c1814 Hassall House.
- A well associated with the 80 year-occupation.
- Remains of an eastern building with chimney/flue and associated features.
- Remains of a central building, possibly a dairy.
- A series of recut pits behind the house, including a timber-lined pit.
- A second group of pits, two of which had brick-lined bases.
- Remains of pottery and other ceramics including hair brushes and combs