Friday, May 10, 2013

Ripponlea Pt 2

Ripponlea was built in 1868 for Sir Thomas Sargood.The house has been altered and modernised many times in its history, but it remains a beautiful and grand home and is my favourite Melbourne 'grand house'.

The Sargoods' lived at the house until 1903 when Sir Thomas died. It was bought by a consortium of developers with one of the developers being the infamous St Thomas Bent. The developers sold off various parts of the land, but before the house could be demolished and the land subdivided into housing allotments, Bent died. Why am I thinking we are talking about developers in the 21st century, rather than the 20th century? The more things change....

In 1910 the property was bought by Ben Nathan, owner of Maples, a chain of furniture retailers. I have made mention of Maples a couple of times in the past and it is worth revisiting the posts here and here.

When Nathan died in 1935, the property was inherited by his daughter Louisa who promptly went about remodelling the house, with most of the interior Victorian features removed or covered over. Louisa, Mrs Jones, was a Melbourne socialite who loved to entertain and the reinvented the interior of the house to what could be described as 1930s Hollywood. She had the old ballroom demolished and a new one built along with an adjacent swimming pool. I have heard that the ballroom has Melbourne's best sprung dance floor.

In the early 1950s the Federal Government compulsorily acquired some of the Ripponlea estate land for the construction of ABC, Australian Broadcasting Commission, television studios. If your recall last year's ABC comedy, Adam Hills In Gordon Street Tonight, Gordon Street refers to the street address of the studios with Gordon Street running along one side and Ripponlea on the other.  Hopefully this link will work and you can easily see where the land for the ABC studios was chopped off the estate.

In the sixties, the government wanted more of the Ripponlea land but this time Mrs Jones said no and fought a long battle against the acquisition. Settlement was eventually reached and to me it reads in Wikipedia like Mrs Jones won. Part of the agreement was that the estate was to be left to the Victoria National Trust upon her death. Mrs Jones died in 1972 and what a win her legacy was to the people of Victoria.

There is a 3d interactive photographic thingie to play with here where you can check out the interior of the house.

I understand the National Trust receives quite a good income from the property, subsidising other properties that do not do so well.

Behind me and to my right is a sporting pavillion. I went in to look at a couple posters and as I was leaving, I startled a woman who putting away croquet equipment.

The level of the pool was a bit low. The ballroom behind is often used for weddings and other occasions and is leased to a catering company.

Isn't she just beautiful.

This photo includes the tower which is undergoing renovation.

A beautiful aspect over the lawns. As well as being the first house in Australia? with its own power generators for electricity, it also has its own sophisticated watering system fed by the lake.

The main entrance. I like the side view better, or perhaps it is my photo.

The conservatory.

At basement level are the kitchen and servants' quarters. A more modern kitchen was built upstairs and this basement part of the house is preserved Victorian.

What is this entrance?

It is the fernery and it is huge and impressive.

While I have no lawn, I am happy to say, you can never have enough lawn.

Considerately, protruding roots have been painted yellow.

I'll just stand on this bridge and let the smoke and steam from the train envelop me. Ah, that's right, back to the 21st century, electricity, you say. Well I never...

Apparently new ABC tv studios are to built at Southbank, so once the ABC has gone, we would expect the land to be returned to the  people.

Somehow I think not and so expect more of what you can see in the right of this photo.

I have no idea what this building is in Ripon Grove, but it is of substance.

Coffee at The Artful Dodger on the corner of Gordon Street and Glenhuntly Road, and then home.


  1. Ripponlea certainly is beautiful, but I'm glad I'm not a cleaner there.

    1. River, I expect there would have once been an army of cleaners there.

  2. The house from the front, set in vast gardens, is stunning to look at and so is the conservatory. But inside is lovely too and is surprisingly elegant. I had imagined that the socialite butterflies of Melbourne might have been so busy entertaining that they might have made the place brash and way over-the-top.

    1. It ages since I have been inside Hels, but I recall it as being pretty good. The 1950s bathroom seemed rather out of place though. It maybe gone now.

  3. Thanks for the day out!

  4. Can you just imagine what this gorgeous house was like in it's hay day in 1935 Andrew, its a beauty now but when it was hosting parties etc it would have been fabulous oui!

    1. I can Grace. I can imagine living there. "I'll have breakfast on the verandah today Mrs Briggs. Can you make sure the papers are there. Bring the car at 11 to take me to the solicitor, and then later to the station as I am going into town". I could get very used to that.

  5. Lovely place. I think we should all move in.