|The foundation stone for Rupertswood was laid on 29 August 1874 with some 1000
people in attendance. The mansion was built for Sir William Clarke by
contractors George Sumner & Co. from designs prepared by architect George
Brown, whilst interior decorations were carried out by Schemmel and Shilton.
The two storey bluestone mansion, surmounted by a 100 feet high tower with a
Mansard roof and widow's walk, was completed in 1876 and described at that
time as being in the 'Byzantine order of architecture'. The ballroom was
added in late 1881-1882.
The elaborate gates and lodge were built at the same time as the main house to
designs by the architect George Brown.
The gardens and grounds, including the artificial lake, were designed by the
leading landscape architect of the time, William Sangster. The brick and
cement tank, capable of holding 9000 gallons of water, supplied water to the
house and grounds
The property was sold by the Clarke family in 1922 to manufacturer Hugh Victor
McKay. The pastoralist William Naughton bought Rupertswood in 1926 and the
property was subdivided. Since 1927 Rupertswood has been owned by the
Rupertswood has historical, architectural and social importance to the state
Rupertswood, one of the largest houses built in Victoria, has considerable
historical and social importance as an expression of an extraordinary way of
life based on great affluence. Rupertswood became one of the principal social
centres in Victoria, with hundreds of guests arriving at the estate's private
railway platform to attend hunt meets, balls and house parties. The estate
also had its own half battery of horse artillery when Sir William Clarke
formed a small permanent force in 1885. The drill hall and the vault remain
as reminders of this privately sponsored regiment.
Rupertswood has important historical and social associations with landowner,
stud-breeder and philanthropist Sir William Clarke (1831-1897). The elaborate
mansion with its large estate demonstrates the important status of Clarke
whose prominence as a colonist was recognised in 1882 by his appointment as a
The property also has an association with Hugh Victor McKay (1865-1926) who
owned the Sunshine Harvester Works, for many years the largest factory in
Australia. McKay achieved his long-held ambition of owning Rupertswood in
Rupertswood has significant historical associations with the Catholic Church.
The Salesian order of priests, who have occupied the property since 1927, was
formed in Turin, Italy by Saint John Bosco who set up schools and homes for
the underprivileged of the city. The order arrived in Australia in 1923 and
priests and brothers were welcomed in Melbourne by Archbishop Mannix in 1925.
Rupertswood, from 1931 to 1981, was the site for Eucharistic Festivals, the
major annual devotional event of the Catholic Church in Victoria.
Rupertswood is also of historical interest for its association with the Ashes,
cricket's most illustrious trophy. After a social match on the property with
members of the English touring cricket team in 1882, Lady Janet Clarke burnt a
bail and presented the ashes in an urn to the victorious English captain, Ivo
Rupertswood demonstrates outstanding craftsmanship and interior decoration.
The stained glass windows by Ferguson and Urie are particularly noteworthy.