Saturday, February 25, 2017

Rippon Lea - gift to the nation

The final chapter of the history of Rippon Lea estate and it's various owners.

We last left you with poor Lulu in the evil clutches of the villainous developers waving Acquisition Orders about and planning to steal her farm, kill all her cattle and...

Got a little carried away with my story telling...............

The 1960's and 1970's was a sad time for Melbourne, and indeed many other Australian cities as many beautiful historical buildings were destroyed in the name of progress.
People power managed to save some places but not all, one example of many being another beautiful mansion called Rostella.  It was flattened in 1972 to make way for a car park for the ABC.

Happily in the case of Rippon Lea people power did help.
The demonstration stalled things long enough for Lulu to make a deal.
She bequeathed the estate to the National Trust (with her children's blessing) on her death to stop more land being lost.

Lulu died in 1972, the estate passed into the hands of the National Trust and the Acquisition Order was finally withdrawn.

On 22nd February 1974 the grounds opened up to the public for the first time.
It was recorded that 100 000 people walked through the doors in the first three months.

Today there is a large area of the garden marked out to show people what would have been lost if that second Acquisition Order went through.
 Lucky for Lulu and People Power!

Today there is a small entrance fee but as the money goes to keeping this beautiful part of Melbourne history alive, it is very worth it.

We saw many families sitting in the garden, picnicking, laughing and children playing.

I think Fred, Ben and Lulu would be pleased.

You can see more images at this website here. which is where I got a lot of the information for these blog posts from.

Rippon Lea, Melbourne - May 2016

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