"Rupertswood" is one of Australia's most important mansions, both historically and architecturally. Built as a residence for Sir William John Clarke, (first Australian born Baronet), in 1874-76 it became a power seat in the great English tradition. The property covered an area of 31,000 acres. Today the estate has been reduced to 1,100 acres. "Rupertswood" is a 50room mansion built in the Italianate style, surmounted by a 100 foot tower. The grand entrance is paved with Victorian tessellated tiles and there are six magnificent stained glass panels made by Urie and Fergeson in 1874-76, considered some of the finest examples in the world.
William Sangster designed the gardens at "Rupertswood" originally covering an area of 99 acres, and once boasted tennis courts, croquet lawns and an underground fernery. "Rupertswood" also had its own private railway station were guests to grand balls would arrive from Spencer Street. Balls, hunt meets and weekend house parties were frequent. Anyone of note, in Victorian and Edwardian society, was entertained by the Clarkes. Many historical figures visited "Rupertswood", including the Duke and Duchess of York, (later to become King George V and Queen Mary), Dame Nellie Melba and several Governors of Victoria.
"Rupertswood" holds a place in the great sporting rivalry between Australia and England, as it was on a field at "Rupertswood" that the "Ashes" were created. On Christmas Eve of 1882, after a congenial lunch, Sir William Clarke suggested a social game between the English Cricket team and a local side, made up largely of Rupertswood staff. By all accounts, it was an enjoyable game with no one really keeping score, however, it was generally agreed that the English won. Pat Lyons, a worker at "Rupertswood", clearly remembered the afternoon many years later. It was his understanding that Lady Clarke, at dinner that evening, had presented Ivo Bligh with a pottery urn. It was purported to contain the ashes of a burnt bail. This was a light hearted gesture to commemorate England's win at "Rupertswood".
By 1922, "Rupertswood" had passed from the Clarke family into the possession of H.V.McKay, millionaire, industrialist and inventor of "Sunshine Harvester" fame. His dream of owning "Rupertswood" had been realised, if however, a little short lived. He died at "Rupertswood" in 1926. A short time later one of Australia's greatest pastoralist, William Naughton acquired the property. One year later he sold the mansion and 1100 acres to the Roman Catholic Salesian Order. The mansion then became a school for under privileged boys.
Today the mansion has undergone extensive restoration, reinstating elaborate Victorian colour and decorative schemes, and operating as a boutique hotel. With Butlers, Doormen, a high level of service and food, "Rupertswood" is an experience only found in the great houses of England.
GHOSTS OF RUPERTSWOOD