A history of the Rupertswood Estate formerly occupied by H.V McKay between 1922 and 1926.
'[Rupertswood] has euphony and conveys a sense of things solid, lasting, time-honoured' (Taken from the brochure Rupertswood Estate which advertised the sale of the property in 1926)
The Rupertswood estate is situated in Sunbury, Victoria and is the site where H.V McKay spent his final years. The building has a long history, pre-dating McKay's arrival. The grand mansion was constructed between 1874 and 1876 for prominent landowner, baronet and philanthropist Sir William Clarke.It was built by contractors George Sumner & Co. from designs prepared by architect George Brown. Schemel and Shilton decorated the interior of the mansion. Leading landscape architect William Sangster designed the gardens and parkland, including the artificial lake. In August 1874, the mansion's foundation stone was laid in front of1,000 guests.
The mansion epitomised the Clarke family's lavish tastes. It featured a ballroom, billiard room, breakfast room and lounge room. In addition, there were two reception rooms, six main bedrooms, nine bathrooms and servants' quarters. There was also a road going through the property for carting produce. Guests could arrive at the mansion via a train as the property had its own railway platform. The estate even included a half battery of horse artillery when Sir William Clarke formed a privately sponsored regiment in 1885.
The Clarkes entertained hundreds of guests, including prominent figures, at their estate. Hunt meets, balls and house parties were held for family, friends and acquaintances.
Rupertswood also has a rich sporting heritage as it is considered the birthplace of the Ashes trophy. In 1882, the Clarkes hosted the touring English team. Following a social match, Lady Janet Clarke presented the victorious English captain Ivo Bligh an urn which held the ashes of burnt bail.
Following Clarke's death in May 1897, his son Rupert inherited the property. It was eventually sold to H.V McKay in 1922. The wealthy industrialist had a long-standing desire to purchase the grand estate. McKay's wife Sarah found life at Rupertswood unappealing and the couple lived apart until 1925 when McKay's health deteriorated. He passed away at Rupertswood on May 21, 1926.
The sale of Rupertswood took place at Scott's Hotel in Melbourne on November 11, 1926. It was purchased by William Naughton and was subdivided. The following year the Salesian order of the Catholic Church purchased the site where it continues to operate a school. The mansion still exists and has been converted into an elegant venue for weddings, conferences and accommodation.References
"History of 'The Ashes'", The Times, 27 June 1930, p.7.
"Rupertswood", Victorian Heritage Database, http://vhd.heritage.vic.gov.au/#detail_places;1133
Rupertswood Estate, Sunbury, Victoria. Stock and Land, General Printing Dept, Melbourne, 1926.
Rupertswood Mansion, http://www.rupertswood.com/
Lack, John. "McKay, Hugh Victor (1865-1926)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,