1877 James Winter’s ‘Dhurringile’ Mansion, Murchison, Victoria.

In the western district of Victoria is the historic mansion “Dhurringile,” erected for the wealthy Squatter James Winter in 1877.

The mansion still contains a number of secular stained glass windows crafted by the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company of North Melbourne.

“…Many of the windows are of stained glass, and are beautifully ornamented; the principal one in the large hall was made by Messrs. Ferguson and Urie, of Melbourne, a highly creditable example of colonial art…”[1]

Photos by Mrs. Noelle Nathan: (Dated March 2011)

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James Winter (1834-1885)

James Winter was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1834 and came out to Victoria with his parents John and Janet and his siblings in 1841. In 1857, in partnership with his father and brothers they brought the Colbinabbin station and others in the Rodney district of Victoria at a cost of around £200,000.[2]

On the dissolution of the family partnership in 1868 James retained the Toolamba estate and architects Lloyd Tayler and Frederick Wyatt designed his 68 room mansion “Dhurringile-house” which was built in 1877 for a reported £30,000.

“…In 1870 he was elected president of the shire council of Waranga, of which he had been a member from 1864, and he was made a territorial magistrate by the Kerferd Government…” [3]

On the 27th April 1871, aged 36, he married Caroline Pettett[4], a daughter of former Hawthorn Mayor, William Henry Pettett, who, coincidentally has a stained glass window erected to his memory in Holy Trinity Church at Stawell which depicts St Peter & St Paul and it too was made by Ferguson & Urie circa 1871.

“…At the latter end of 1873 a railway league was formed – of which he was elected president, to bring a railway down the valley of the Goulburn…”[5]

In 1883 he travelled to England via the USA where he selected twenty seven ewes and twenty three American Merino sheep for breeding on his property in Victoria[6]. Shortly before his intended return to Australia in late January 1885 he fell ill died of inflammation of the lungs at Carlisle House, Central Hill, Norwood on the 3rd February 1885 [7][8].

Dhurringile:

Dhurringile remained within ownership of the family for many years. In 1890 Mr. M. Minter was the manager of the Dhurringile estate[9]. His two sons drowned on the property in 1895[10]. The property was eventually sold at auction in March 1902 to J. J. Falconer of the Australian Mortgage, Land, and Finance Company Ltd for £173,527.[11]

In 1910 Thomas Hastie was the manager of Dhurringile station and was appointed a member of the Closer Settlement Board.[12] Two years later in 1912 it was owned or managed by Everard Browne[13].

The property remained vacant for a number of years and was eventually sold to Vincent Hart in 1925,[14] but it still remained unoccupied during his ownership. In 1939 Hart rented the property to the Government for use as an internment camp for German and Italian alien civilians and by 1941 it was being used by the army as a prisoner of war camp for Germans.

In 1947 Dhurringile was purchased by the Presbyterian Church who refurbished the dilapidated property and after a public appeal in 1949 the church raised £15,000[15] to assist with the repairs. The property eventually opened in late 1950 as the “Dhurringile Presbyterian Rural Training Farm”, which was intended for accommodating and training immigrant boys from the UK whose fathers had died during the war. The first twenty nine boys from England and Scotland arrived aboard the ‘Cheshire’ in late December 1950[16].

In 1965 the property was purchased by the Victorian Government for use in the rehabilitation of alcoholic prisoners. The property is still used as a minimum security prison to this day but the mansion itself is only used for administration and as a training centre.

The extant Ferguson & Urie stained glass windows in the mansion, depict the Kangaroo and the Emu, the deities “Flora & Pomona,” a gothic decorated fanlight window and an arched window depicting the seasons which is very similar to the seasons window at Mandeville Hall in Toorak.

Significant Transcriptions:

The Australasian, Melbourne, Vic, Saturday 24th April 1880, page 25.

“THE TOOLAMBA ESTATE, LOWER GOULBURN.

(BY OUR TRAVELLING REPORTER)

Within some half dozen miles of Murchison, on the Lower Goulburn, and not far from the small township of Toolamba, is the estate of the same name, belonging to Mr. James Winter, and which was casually referred to in one of my previous articles on the North-Eastern and Goulburn Valley districts. The length of the estate from the Goulburn River to the boundary of the Girgarre district is above 12 miles, and its width from the Murchison side to Toolamba between seven and eight miles. It is divided into about 50 paddocks, all of which are securely fenced with post-and-rail and wire fences, and a small portion with wire netting, for keeping the young rams in. Rich, well grassed plains, with soil of chocolate description, constitute the greater portion of the estate, and in places these are heavily timbered with box and gum, while at intervals wide stretches of country intervene which scarcely possess a single tree. No running streams are to be met with, but the whole estate is well watered, there being altogether nearly 100 dams, from which over 100,000 yards of excavation have been taken, and with one or two exceptions they all had a plentiful supply of water during the two recent summers, which have been the most trying for a number of years. On a small sandhill – one of the few elevations on the north side of the estate – the homestead is built. It is called Dhurringile-house – the former word in the native vocabulary signifying “and emu crouching,” the peculiar shape and isolation of the hill, there being none other for miles in every direction around it, having led the aborigines to imagine that it bore a resemblance to a gigantic emu in the act of lying on the plain, and to bestow upon it the appellation it now bears.

            Dhurringile-house is a fine edifice, in fact, there are not many superior to it in the colony; its construction involved a very large amount of time, labour, and expense. The whole of the operations were carried on under the personal supervision of the proprietor, who to a great extent acted as his own architect; and the vast pile of buildings which now towers so proudly above the Emu Plain has been acknowledged by some of the highest professional ability in the colony to be exceptionally well designed, and substantially erected. The house is constructed of red brick, in the rural Italian style of architecture; the frontages on the north and west are ornamented with finely-cemented arcades and pillars. A tower (along which a lightning conductor runs) rises to a height of nearly 100ft above the level of the hill, almost in the centre of the building, which is two stories high, and extends from east to west to a length of 130ft., while the extreme breadth is slightly over 90ft. Every portion of the house is supplied with gas, manufactured on the premises; while, in order to facilitate verbal communications, speaking tubes are fitted throughout the building. Many of the windows are of stained glass, and are beautifully ornamented; the principal one in the large hall was made by Messrs. Ferguson and Urie, of Melbourne, a highly creditable example of colonial art…”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Saturday 29th April 1871, page 4.

WINTER-PETTETT.- On the 27th inst., at Minninnera, by the Rev. Wm. Henderson, James Winter, Esq, Toolamba, second son of John Winter, Esq, of Lauderdale, Ballarat, to Caroline, eldest daughter of the Hon. W. H. Pettett, M.L.C. No cards.”

Morning Post, London, England, Friday 6th February 1885, page 1.

“WINTER.- On the 3d inst., at Carlisle House, Central Hill, Norwood, James Winter, Esq., of Victoria, Australia.”

Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter, London, England, Saturday 7th February 1885, page 3-4.

“WINTER.- Feb 3rd, at Carlisle House, Central Hill, Norwood, James Winter, Esq., of Dhurringile, Victoria, Australia.”

Evening News, Sydney, NSW, Thursday 5th February 1885, page 4.

“LONDON, February 4 [sic].- Mr. James Winter, formerly a member of the Victorian Legislature, died here to-day from inflammation of the lungs.”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Friday 6th February 1885, page 5.

“DEATH OF MR. JAMES WINTER. LONDON, FEB 4.

The death is announced, in his 51st year, of Mr. James Winter, of Turringili[sic], Toolamba estate, Murchison, the well known Victorian squatter. He died of inflammation of the lungs.”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Friday 6th February 1885, page 5.

“In our cable messages this morning the death is announced of Mr. James Winter, of the firm of Messrs. Winter Brothers, of Turringili[sic], Toolamba estate, Murchison, who was on a visit to England. The deceased gentleman was an old Victorian Colonist, and had large pastoral interests in the colony. He at one time represented the district in which his property was in the Waranga Shire Council, and in 1870 he was elected to the president’s chair. In February, 1883, he left with a party of friends to go, by way of America, to England, partly for the benefit of his health. In passing through America he selected some sheep, which were designed to improve the weight of fleece of Victorian flocks. By the latest advices he had taken his passage, together with several other gentlemen well known in Melbourne, by the R.M.S. Pekin, which was to sail on the 29th ult., and the news of his death has taken his friends quite by surprise. He was greaty respected as a man of business and for his private worth. It is related that when the Toolamba run was selected Mr. Winter supplied the selectors with water from his tanks, without which they would have had to abandon their selections. As showing the energy and liberal outlay with which he improved his land, it may be mentioned that property held by him, and adjudged by arbitration under Duffy’s Act to carry one sheep to five acres, was ultimately made capable of supporting one sheep per acre. In 1857, Colbinabbin station and several others in the Rodney district were bought at a cost of about 200,000, by Mr. Winter and his brothers.”

Bendigo Advertiser, Vic, Monday 9th February 1885, page 2.

“An Argus telegram, republished by us on Saturday, reported the death from inflammation of the lungs of Mr. James Winter, of Turringili[sic], Toolamba Estate, Murchison. The deceased gentleman was a brother of the hon. W. L. Winter, M.L.C. for the northern Province, and was on a visit to England for the benefit of his health. His death, however, was entirely unexpected, in fact it is said he had taken his passage to return to the colony by the R.M.S.S. Pekin, when he was taken ill. We take from ‘Victorian Men of the Time’ the following particulars of the deceased gentleman’s career:-

Winter, James, J.P., for the firm of Winter Brothers, of Turringili[sic], Toolamba Estate, Murchison, is the second son of the late John Winter, Lauderdale, Ballarat; born at Edinburgh, 1834, and came out to Victoria in 1841 as a child with his parents. Educated in Melbourne, and brought up to pastoral pursuits. In 1850 His father purchased the Junction Station, near the Devil’s River, Merton, of Lockhart and Mackenzie. Struggled through the gold-fever period, acting as their own shepherds for a year and a half, until things began to right themselves in 1853-4. In 1857 Colbinabbin Station was brought, and several others in the Rodney district, at a cost of about £200,000, by Mr. Winter and his brothers. They shortly after sold the junction Station for £24,000. After these runs had been for the most part been improved, and a supply of water obtained, that country was cut up under the land Act of 1865, and in 1866 200,000 acres were selected in six months. The firm was obliged to secure a large tract of land on their various runs to preserve their flocks from annihilation, and this land ultimately became freehold. In 1868 the brothers dissolved partnership, in consequence of the properties becoming so detached, and their father, the late Mr. John Winter, arbitrated in the division of the property. The Toolamba Estate became the portion of Mr. James Winter. In 1870 he was elected president of the shire council of Waranga, of which he had been a member from 1864, and he was made a territorial magistrate by the Kerferd Government. In 1873 the rush for the Goulburn valley lands took place, and in about one year the whole of the Toolamba run was selected. Mr. Winter claims to have supplied the selectors with water from his tanks, without which they would have had to abandon their selections. At the latter end of 1873 a railway league was formed – of which he was elected president, to bring a railway down the valley of the Goulburn. His property is all securely fenced and sub-divided into fifty paddocks, with reservoirs in each. The land held by him was adjudged by arbitration under Duffy’s act to carry one sheep to five acres; by improvements he has made the land to carry nearly one sheep to one acre, and if, as the proverb has it, – “The man who makes two blades of grass grow where only one grew before, is a benefactor to mankind,” Mr. Winter claims to have done something in that direction to earn the title. In 1871 he married the daughter of the hon. W. H. Pettitt”

Footnotes:

[1] The Australasian, Melbourne, Vic, Saturday 24th April 1880, page 25.

[2] The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Friday 6th February 1885, page 5.

[3] Bendigo Advertiser, Vic, Monday 9th February 1885, page 2.

[4] The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Saturday 29th April 1871, page 4.

[5] The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Friday 6th February 1885, page 5.

[6] The Australasian, Melbourne, Vic, Saturday 19th June 1886, page 11.

[7] Morning Post, London England, Friday 6th February 1885, page 1.

[8] Croydon Advertiser & East Surry Reporter, London, England, Saturday 7th February 1885, page 3.

[9] Kyabram Union, Vic, Friday 16th May 1890, page 2.

[10] Riverine Herald, Echuca, Vic, Friday 4th January 1895, page 2.

[11] The Sydney Morning Herald, NSW, Saturday 8th March 1902, page 10.

[12] Riverine Herald, Echuca, Vic, Wednesday 16th February 1910, page 4.

[13] The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Wednesday 3rd April 1912, page 11.

[14] Victorian Heritage Council – report 125244 (accessed 5 Aug 2014)

[15] The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Saturday 2nd July 1949, page 10.

[16] Riverine Herald, Echuca, Vic, Tuesday 26th December 1950, page 4.


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4 comments on “1877 James Winter’s ‘Dhurringile’ Mansion, Murchison, Victoria.

  1. i have been inside the stanhope property many years ago, there is very little of it left, it has been stripped out completely inside and most of the external walls are starting to fall in, its a real shame as it looked like it was once a grand building

    • Thanks for your first hand insight Jeremy,

      It is undoubtedly a sad sights to see. Much of our Colonial past is still being plundered to this day.

      Ray

    • Hi Neil, you probably only get one room for 30k these days I reckon!

      I absolutely love these old historic buildings. If I win PowerBall I’m buying one!

      Ray

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