Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: March 18, 2016
Webpage updated: March 09, 2020

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Government House at Mount Wise, Devonport.
From a postcard.

Government House was built between 1789 and 1793 as the private residence and military offices of the Lieutenant-Governor of the Plymouth Garrison.  Prior to 1725 the Governor's offices had been at the Royal Citadel.

A German Tattoo was held at the front of Government House on Thursday October 11th 1883.  It started at 9pm in the square at Raglan Barracks.  The massed bands of the South Lancashire Regiment, Highland Light Infantry and the Royal Marines paraded in the Barracks.  Some 100 men from those Regiments plus the Royal Artillery also paraded in sections of 10 men under the command of a non-commissioned officer.  Each man carried a lighted torch manufactured locally and calculated to burn for two hours.

At 9.30pm, when the united buglers sounded "The Retreat", the troops commenced their march, through the main gate and up to Government House, at Mount Wise.  The massed bands first played "Union Jack" and they were followed by a Scottish march from the pipers.  Finally the massed bands played "Marines".

Upon arrival at Mount Wise the bands struck up the overture "Fra Diavolo" and "The British Patrol", after which the tattoo proper commenced.  This comprised an introduction from the fifes and drums; a Russian tattoo march; watch setting cavalry, first post, by united trumpeters with roll of drums; infantry, second post, by united buglers and roll of drums; Scotch (sic) pipers, "Good Night and Joy be With You"; role of drums; Evening Hymn by the massed bands; "Lights Out" by the united buglers; "God Save the Queen" by the massed bands and drums.  On the return parade the band, picquet and torch bearers were required to turn off as they neared the Barracks and return their torches.

Government House subsequently became the residence of the General Officer Commanding Western District until 1905, when he was succeeded by the General Officer Commanding Wessex District.  During 1934 that post was transferred to Salisbury, Wiltshire, and the local commanding officer was downgraded.  The Government decided it was too costly to maintain the residence for an officer of a lower rank and thus released it for other use.

Luckily the Admiralty thought it would make a better residence for their Commander-in-Chief so they took over the property, refurbished it and renamed new Admiralty House, replacing old Admiralty House.