Monday, February 20, 2017

Rippon Lea - land grabbing and demonstrations.

Continuing the story of Rippon Lea mansion and gardens now under the ownership of Lulu and Tim Jones.

In 1956 the Olympics came to Melbourne.
So the Victorian Government grabbed - err sorry - compulsorily acquired some land from the Rippon Lea estate to build a new television studio for the Australian Broadcasting Commission.  They did however give Lulu some money for her trouble.
Very generous.

Then in 1958 Tim died leaving poor Lulu feeling very sad and wondering what to do with herself and the house.

The Vic Govt very kindly gave her something else to think about by trying to grab - sorry again - put a compulsory acquisition order on a further four acres in 1963 to enlarge the studio.

Lulu had enough and fought the order all the way to the high court, but lost.

However help was at hand because the community had also had enough of compulsory acquisition orders and staged a huge demonstration that attracted about 10 000 people.

Did it work?
Stay tuned.......

Next up - final chapter.

Rippon Lea, Melbourne - May 2016

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Rippon Lea - keeping up with the Jones'

Continuing the story of Rippon Lea house and gardens now under the ownership of Lulu Nathan who inherited the estate following her fathers death in 1935.

Lulu had married a lawyer called Timothy Jones in 1921 so she was already established with a hubby and a family of four kiddies when she inherited the estate.

Lulu and Tim decided to modernise - changing the Edwardian decor for a more glamorous Hollywood style.

She had a new kitchen built on the ground floor, remodeled the dining room and bathrooms (installing the luscious green bathroom tile you still see today and can be seen in earlier posts), removed the original ballroom and replaced it with a swimming pool and converted the billiard room and museum into a new ballroom.
She painted, changed carpets, de-cluttered, altered the entrance hall to bring in more light and installed a lot of mirrors.

Lulu and Tim entertained a lot and became well known for their pool parties and charity fundraisers.

A little side note.
Anyone who is a fan of Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries will recognise the pool and some of the garden, as the scenes of  Aunt Prudence's mansion were shot at Rippon Lea (and a dastardly murder was committed by the pool!)

So did the fun continue into the second half of the 20th century?

Rippon Lea, Melbbourne, Victoria - May 2016

Friday, February 10, 2017

Rippon Lea - The Nathan Family

Continuing the story of the house called Rippon Lea which is about to change hands again due to the  death of yet another owner.

In 1910 the property was bought by Benjamin Nathan who had made his fortune selling furniture.

Ben moved in with his wife and two daughters and the house became a family home again, though he did use it to host fundraising events for the First World War and other charities.

Like Fred, Ben was a keen gardener and particularly liked orchids.
He built the entrance lodge (photos of which can be seen in the first Rippon Lea blog post), 
a large conservatory and 14 glasshouses, and employed up to 17 gardeners.

Ben's orchids became famous and started winning awards.  Visitors started coming around to view the gardens and possibly glean some gardening tips (and maybe a cuppa).

Life was happy at Rippon Lea for the next 25 years until Ben died in 1935 and his eldest daughter Louisa (Lulu) inherited the estate.

What did Lulu do?

Rippon Lea, Melbourne - May 2016

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Rippon Lea - changing times

Continuing the story of the now deceased Fred's house and what became of it after his demise.

No that's not his ghost - it's my hubby.

Lady Sargood now had her own daughter, five step sons and four step daughters to care for.

So she sold the house, contents and exotic plants for £20 000 even though the property was said to be valued at over £600 000.

Then she took her daughter back to England and never returned.
I'm not sure what happened to the other children, though I have read about one son, Frederick, who moved to Sydney and became a prominent retailer.
But back to the house.

The property was purchased by a syndicate headed by a man named Thomas Bent.
Tom never lived in the house, but rather used it for entertaining and charity events. 
He subdivided and sold off parcels of land though was careful to maintain the garden.

Tom was forced from office in 1908 for involvement in land scandals and died a year later while still under investigation.

A bit sad, but at least it saved the property from being divided up even more.

Who took ownership of the mansion then?

Rippon Lea, Melbourne - May 2016

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Rippon Lea - expansion.

Continuing the story of Fred, his new wife Julia, an undisclosed number of children and their rather nice house.

Fred was knighted in 1890 and renovated his house again in 1897.

The front entrance was remodeled to what visitors see today.
He added a gentleman's wash room and study, enlarged the old study to make a drawing room, and made the old drawing room a less formal sitting room.

The staircase was remodeled to the grand staircase that's seen today, a bathroom added upstairs and bedrooms added making a total of 11 bedrooms, to accommodate staff and a growing family.

Fred's business continued to thrive in Australia and New Zealand and he was elected to the first Australian Senate in 1901.

Life was good.

However only two years later, in 1903, while on a trip to New Zealand, Fred became suddenly ill and died.

What happened to the house then?
Stay tuned for the next installment.

Rippon Lea Estate, Melbourne - May 2016

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Rippon Lea - development

Continuing our story of Fred, Marion, their 9 children and their house.

A little side note.
At the time of our visit the estate was hosting an exhibition of costumes from the movie The Dressmaker.
I've never seen the movie, though I've read the book.
Judging by these fabulous costumes, I should probably take a look at the movie.

We didn't realise the exhibition was on and were a little disappointed that we couldn't see the house in it's normal state.
As lovely as the clothes were.


I did try to get some shots around the mannequins but it was very difficult.

I think another trip is on the cards.

Now back to our story.

 All went swimmingly until in 1878 poor Marion died while giving birth to her 12th child.

Fred needed to get away so took his family, 3 staff and a cow to England.
(yes I said cow)

Fred returned in 1882 refreshed and with a new wife and child in tow, resumed his career in Parliament and became Minister for Defence.

Because he now had international dignitaries to entertain, Fred decided an extension was in order.

The dining room was extended to the size it is today, a second floor was added to the back and a tower built.

He remodeled the kitchen and added a verandah to the West front of the house.

The garden was redesigned to look less formal, the fernery enlarged, and the drainage extended.

Now those parties could begin.

Coming up - the 1890's

Rippon Lea Estate, Melbourne - May 2016

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Rippon Lea - the beginning.

Where shall we go today?

This looks promising.....

Shall we go in?

Ahhh a wonder to behold.

And now for a story.

Last May I turned 50 (no that's not the story).
Hubby and I went to Melbourne for a long relaxing weekend and daughter stayed with friends at home.

One place I had wanted to see for quite a while was Rippon Lea Estate, a beautiful house and gardens currently owned by the National Trust.

And now for the story.

Once upon a time there was a man named Frederick Sargood.
Fred became a rich man through selling soft-goods on the gold fields.  I'm not sure what soft-goods he sold, or indeed what constitutes a soft-good, but whatever they were, he made his fortune by selling them to the gold diggers.

He used his new riches to build a home for himself and his family.

He used a combination of his mother's maiden name, and an old English word for "meadow" to create the name of Rippon Lea for his new home.  He moved in with his first wife, Marian, and their 9 surviving children.  The year was 1868.

The mansion had 15 rooms (there are currently 33) and he employed 7 maids, a butler, 7 gardeners, a coachman and a groom.  Clearly soft-goods was good business.

Fred entered politics and became the first chairman of the Melbourne Harbour Trust in 1875.

He was a very practical man and liked to keep up with the times.  He had an underground watering system, electricity and indoor toilets installed in the house.
You might say he was a visionary victorian Victorian (slight geographical / historical joke there).

Fred was also a keen gardener (man after my own heart) and had many different plants imported.

Stay tuned for the next installment - the 1880's.

Rippon Lea Estate, Melbourne, Victoria - May 2016

Monday, January 16, 2017

Another year begins.

Well 2016 is done and dusted
and 2017 is upon us.

Time to pull up a comfy chair,
or seat myself at my writing desk.

Either way, it must include coffee.

And make my plans for the new year.

Happy new year everyone.

Photo of writing desk taken in Sydney  - Sept 2015
 Cafe shots from Ballarat, Victoria - March 2016 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas eve and Hanukkah day 1

Both celebrations happen at the same time this year
which means one very noisy week at our house :)

I haven't taken any Christmasy or Hanukkahy photos yet.
In fact I still haven't sorted my photos since coming back from holidays in July 2015!

Well, thank goodness I'm about to go on a little blog break.
so I can sort out the photos for the last year and a half!

In the meantime here's a little photo of some cheerful flowers that greeted me on our return from Europe, and helped to alleviate my post holiday blues just a little.

A happy chap I snapped last December in Chatswood,

And a very tall Christmas tree I passed by on my way to French class last Christmas.

Wherever you are, whatever you're celebrating (or not) and whoever you're celebrating (or not) with,
I wish you all a very merry Christmas / Hanukkah / Holidays.

And stay safe.

See you in 2017

My garden - July 2015
 Chatswood and Queen Victoria Building - Sydney - December 2015

Monday, December 19, 2016

Thank you and good night

It's been a year and a half now since our trip of a lifetime.


And it's taken that long for me to share my memories, stories and snaps.


Thank you for sticking around.





My next post takes us back to normality.

The Tower Of London


Mt Titlis


But already I'm dreaming of our next adventure.


And making plans for more whimsical wanderings.

Where shall we go next?


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