Charles Hammond

Artist & Photographer of Melbourne, Australia

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Charlie says goodbye to Mother
1885: Aged 15, Charlie says goodbye to his mother in London, and sails alone to New Zealand.
Charles Hammond aged 30
1900: Charlie Hammond aged 30 is a bachelor living in Melbourne, Australia.
Charles and his wife Gussie
1916: At the age of 40, Charlie marries Gussie Cecil. They live at Belgrave, near Melbourne.


(1870 - 1953)

This website commemorates my great great uncle Charlie Hammond, artist and photographer of Melbourne whose extraordinary talent has never been fully recognized, not even during his own lifetime. All the art and photography shown on this website is by Charlie himself, with the exception of his own portrait above.

The Highlights of Uncle Charlie's Life

  • Kept a pictorial diary containing many memories and important historial recordings all his life.
  • Left his London home in 1885 at the age of 15 years, saying goodbye to his mother forever.
  • Crossed the world alone, aged 15 years, as a passenger on a sailing ship.
  • Supported himself and lived mostly alone from then on.
  • Worked his passage back to England in 1887 on a sailing ship before the mast, visiting many foreign ports.
  • Returned to Australia in 1889 and took his first trip to Belgrave.
  • Learnt the art of photography, passing the knowledge on to many other family members.
  • In 1890, he was in Melbourne, supporting himself with photography and art, in partnership with his brother Bert.
  • During a downturn in the economy in 1893, Bert and Charlie become farm labourers, and Charlie painted horses.
  • They returned to New Zealand, and Charlie worked on a sheep station near Marton.
  • Charlie returned to Australia, continued studying art, painting ceilings and illustrating several books.
  • Bought some land at Belgrade in 1912 and built his house Winscombe with his own hands.
  • Married his beloved wife Gussie Cecil in 1916 at the age of 40 years.
  • Built a beautiful garden at Winscombe and recorded it all in his art.

Click the photos of the artwork to enlarge the image

Gus Cecil
Miss Gussie Cecil
Gus at Winscombe

Charlie's photo of his wife Gussie in the garden at Winscombe in 1924. This is one of his photographs which he has then tinted by painting it.

CH paints Gussy's portrait
Charlie Hammond paints his wife Gussie's portrait

Charlie was born in London, England in 1870 to Edwin Rowland Hammond and his wife Emma Louisa Lowe nee Fry. Both of his parents came from wealthy merchant families. His father, Rowland was a drunkard and a gambler who often abused his wife Emma and the children when he was drunk. Eventually, Emma's wealthy brothers arranged for Rowland to go to Australia. A Hammond uncle who was Director of the P & O Line gave each of the Hammond children a ticket for passage to the colony of their choice. When his chance came, Charlie decided to join his sister Lil Staveley in New Zealand.

By 1887, Charlie had sailed to Melbourne where he joined up with his brother Bert. But soon he decided to work his passage back to England, shipping before the mast in appalling conditions. After living in luxury at his uncle's house in Leister, where is young sister Daisy was already living, he went to work on a farm. However by 1889, Bert had enticed him back to Australia and he worked his passage as a steward.

Charlie and Bert started an art and photography studio in Melbourne, supplementing their income with farm work in both Australia and New Zealand at various times. Their other brother Hal left Canada in 1889 and joined them in Melbourne. Their father Rowland, sister Edith and her husband Frank were also living in Australia. The three brothers had many adventures and mishaps together over the following years. Then Hal married in 1900 and went to live in Maffra, Bert died (suicide) in 1904 and Charlie was alone.

He bought some land at Belgrave in the Dandenong Ranges, near Melbourne in 1912 and built a house with his own hands. He named it Winscombe after the place where his Fry grandparents had lived in Somerset, England and where Charlie had spent many holidays during his childhood. In 1916, Charlie met and married Gussie Cecil whose family lived in Melbourne. Charlie and Gussie lived at Winscombe and created a beautiful garden there. Gussie died suddenly in 1935, and Charlie was alone once again. He died at Winscombe in 1953, and is buried in an unmarked grave at Ferntree Gully Cemetery.

Charlie had no children, and after his death, his art fell into the hands of various people, mostly friends and employees. Quite by chance, Christopher Fry (a nephew in England) was able to buy a number of Charlie's pictorial diaries in the 1960s. Before his death, Christopher donated the entire collection to The State Library of Victoria. They have since expanded the collection which now lies in storage there.


  • All of Charlie Hammond's art and photographs on this website come from the collection held firstly by Christopher Fry in England and now by The State Library of Victoria and photographed by Evan Lewis.
  • The collection of John Waterhouse
  • Charlie Hammond's Sketch-Book. Introduced by Christopher Fry. Oxford University Press, 1980.
  • Can You Find Me? A Family History by Christopher Fry. Oxford University Press. 1978.

Contact Webmaster:Kae Lewis

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