Everybody loves a ghost story and Wingham has its very own. Zeal Cottage in Queen Street, Wingham is purportedly haunted by the house’s first owner, Adelaide Hill.1 But who was Adelaide Hill?
The daughter of once wealthy parents John and Mary Hooke,2 Adelaide was born in NSW in 18333 and at an early age married George Snell Hill in Dungog in 1849.4
George bought over 100 acres of land in Bungay near Wingham in 1855 and the Hill family became some of the earliest European settlers in the Manning.5 George died in 1869, leaving Adelaide to raise their children in Bungay Homestead.
In 1895, a tragic event occurred on Christmas Eve when Adelaide’s 2 year old grandson fell into a tub of boiling water. Adelaide raced to save him but his burns were so bad that he died the next morning.6
In 1901, Adelaide bought land in Wingham where she built Zeal Cottage (likely named after her husband’s birthplace in Zeal Monachorum, Devon).7 She was said to be a kind, intelligent woman who spoke her mind. She was President of the Wingham Red Cross Society for which she worked tirelessly during the early part of WW1.8
Adelaide died in 1922 at Zeal Cottage after several years of ill health at the age of 88. She is buried with her husband on Bungay Estate overlooking the Manning River.9 Perhaps the tragic event of her grandson’s death keeps Adelaide’s spirit earth-bound to this day.
Author: Janine Roberts
1 Wingham Chronicle, 23 July 2016.
2 Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, 17 Jun 1919, 2.
3 NSW BDM, Birth Index entry for Adelaide Hook [sic] (1833 No. 534).
4 NSW BDM, Marriage Index for Adelaide Hooke and George Snell Hill (1849 No. 633).
5 NSW Land & Property Information, Vol:114, Fol:1908 & 1909, 2 Nov 1855.
6 Maitland Weekly Mercury, 4 Jan 1896, 11.
7 NSW BDM, Death Index for George Snell Hill (1869 No.4281); NSW LPI, Vol:1121, Fol:182, Adelaide Hill, 19 July 1901.
8 Macleay Argus, 7 April 1922, 7.
10 Ancestry.com.au photo shared by Wendy Ralph 27 July 2008.