Como House and Garden

Immerse yourself in the history and luxury that make Como Melbourne’s most glamorous stately home.

Built in 1847, Como House and Garden is an intriguing mix of Australian Regency and classic Italianate architecture.

Como offers a glimpse into the privileged lifestyle of former owners, the Armytage family, who lived there for nearly a century.

The Armytages became famous amongst Melbourne high society and equally famous for their many elegant dances, dinners and receptions. Those elegant dining and reception rooms are still furnished with Armytage family heirlooms and even the servant’s areas, kitchen and laundry have been preserved.

 

Como House

Guided tours of the house operate on Wednesdays (2pm only), Fridays (2pm only), and Saturdays and Sundays (11am, 12.30pm and 2pm).

Join us for a guided tour of the house for a glimpse into the opulent lifestyles of former owners, including the Armytage family, who lived there for over a century. Famous among Melbourne high society for its elegant dances, dinners and receptions, the Armytage home remains furnished with original family heirlooms. 

Book a guided tour of Como House.

 

Como Gardens

The gardens at Como are open from Monday to Saturday 9am – 5pm and Sunday 10am – 5pm.

 

Paul Bangay Garden

The Como perennial border has undergone rejuvenation works. Renowned designer and Como Ambassador Paul Bangay has worked with the National Trusts’ garden team and designed an interpretation of a classic perennial border, befitting a garden of the scale and significance of Como. Paul’s design comprises over 900 plants and draws on varieties listed in Willaim Sangster’s 1862 diary notes of plants growing at Como during Sangster’s time as head gardener. The design was implemented by the National Trust’s garden team and Como garden volunteer group.

 

The Stables of Como

Open Monday to Saturday 9 am to 5 pm, Sunday 10 am to 5pm.

Make a reservation for The Stables of Como.

The Stables will be closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve. They will open on New Year’s Day from 10am.

 

Como Shop & Gallery

Open Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 3pm.

 

National Trust Bookshop

The National Trust Bookshop has a carefully curated collection of quality secondhand books. Shop from a variety of genres including Australian art, history, furniture and gardening books, whether you are an ardent bibliophile with an eye for rare books or just an avid reader.

Learn more about the National Trust Bookshop.

 

Upcoming Events

Artist in Residence Clare Whitney

Showing until 31 March 2023 

Clare Whitney is a full-time professional artist living and working from her home studio in Melbourne’s Northern suburbs. As a painter and print-maker, Clare’s passion for colour and illustration crosses over many different mediums. Practising her art form of oil on canvas to traditional etchings, it was an easy move to push the boundaries of mark making onto found ceramic forms.

Formally studying Fine Art at Melbourne’s RMIT (1993), where she majored in Painting and Printmaking, Clare’s etchings and hand painted ceramics have been widely exhibited from the National Gallery of Australia to The Melbourne Museum, an extensive private collection of etchings can be seen at Melbourne’s RACV clubs and Canberra’s famous Ovolo Art (Nishi) Hotel.

Clare’s paintings are well sort after for private collections and commissions for interior styling. Having lived and worked throughout Australia and abroad, Clare’s work expresses a freedom of interpretation using colour and forms found in nature to capture colourful landscapes open to your own interpretation.

See Clare’s work on display at the Como Shop & Gallery until 31 March 2023, Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 3pm.

Find out more

 

Shoes – Footsteps in the House of Discovery

February 3rd to April 23rd 2023 

An activation featuring selected shoes from the National Trust collection of historical fashion, as well as footwear-related decorative arts and idiosyncratic curios.

The experience will be a dreamscape of installations in the rooms of Como House & Garden, South Yarra, Melbourne. This work is part of the PayPal Melbourne Fashion Festival Cultural Program. 

Find out more

 

Shoes – Footsteps in the House of Discovery Curator Talk

Dates: Sunday 12 February & Sunday 2 April at 10.30am & 12.30pm

Learn about the Trust’s collection of strange and wonderful shoes with Senior Curator Elizabeth Anya-Petrivna in the fabulous Ballroom at Como House.

This talk runs for approximately 45 minutes with time for questions at the end.

Purchase Tickets to the Footsteps in the House of Discovery Curator Talk

 

Catwalk Masters: A Claringbold & Weymouth Retrospective

4th March 2023

This show, facilitated by Tom McEvoy, will take place in the Como House and Gardens Ballroom and will offer a deep dive into the fashion legacy of John Claringbold & Ross Weymouth.

Discover the fascinating fashion legacy of John Claringbold and Ross Weymouth at CATWALK MASTERS – A Retrospective Exhibition. Join us at the National Trust’s Como House and Gardens Ballroom for an intimate, storytelling experience featuring a curated selection of significant vintage garments from the award-winning and at times controversial designers’ archives.

Find out more

 

 

 

Approaching Difficult Histories

As a responsible custodian of heritage places, the National Trust is committed to acknowledging the past, including aspects of our history which are painful and uncomfortable.

We are also aware of links between National Trust properties, including Como House, and legacies of slavery. To address this, we are undertaking a project with researchers to further explore associations between the National Trust’s places and objects and ongoing legacies of colonial violence, dispossession, and slavery.

 

What is the National Trust of Australia (Victoria)’s connection to slavery?  

Following the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1833, the Slave Compensation Act 1837 authorised the compensation of slave owners. Victorian Supreme Court judge Sir Edward Williams (1813-80) was awarded compensation for 26 enslaved people in Trinidad. This compensation allowed Williams to purchase land in South Yarra and build Como, a four-roomed residence which he sold in 1852, and would later become the first property acquired by the newly formed Victorian Branch of the National Trust of Australia (NTAV) in 1959. 

 

Is this acknowledged as part of the National Trust’s interpretation of Como House, or its education programs? 

We are currently undertaking research and consultation to inform the appropriate acknowledgement of the role of slavery in the establishment of Como House, and the legacy of Edward Williams.

 

What is the National Trust currently doing about it?  

The National Trust believes that it is vital to acknowledge the past, including aspects of our history which are painful and uncomfortable. In order to move forward, we must also expand our understanding of the past by acknowledging new perspectives, and recognising present injustices. We cannot erase history, but we can tell the whole story. 

To progress these aims, the National Trust is currently partnering with researchers at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation (Deakin University) and University of Melbourne on a project titled “Unfinished business: new approaches to interpreting the histories of the Western Districts of Victoria”.  

Using the Western Districts of Victoria as a case study, the project aims to explore associations between the National Trust’s places and objects and ongoing legacies of colonial violence, dispossession, and slavery. The project will also include the development methodologies for consultation and interpretation that can be utilised by the National Trust in the re-interpretation of its properties and objects.  

Place Details

Como House tours: Wednesdays & Fridays (2pm only), Saturdays and Sundays (11am, 12.30pm and 2pm).

Como gardens are open Mon to Sat 9am to 5pm and Sun 10am to 5pm.

Como Shop & Gallery: open Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 3.30pm.

National Trust Bookshop: Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 3pm.

Corner Williams Rd & Lechlade Ave,
South Yarra 3141

Wurundjeri Woiwurrung Country

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Victoria and recognise their continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past, present and future.

Book a tour

Planning your visit

Como House and Garden

Address:

Corner Williams Rd & Lechlade Ave,
South Yarra 3141 VIC

Entry Fees:

National Trust members: Free
Adult: $15
Concession: $12
Child (15 years & under): $9
Family (2 adults + 2 children): $35

What we offer:

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Como is a unique location for filming and photography, and has played host to many local and international movies, advertising campaigns and photoshoots.

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The History of Como House

The Early Years

Como was built on the land of the Ngaruk Willam clan of the Boon Wurrung people who were part of the five groups who formed the Kulin nation who had lived on the land for thousands of years.
The settlement of Melbourne was a village barely two years old when the site that is now Como was used as a cattle run in 1837.
In 1847 Edward Eyre Williams, lawyer and later Judge of the first Supreme Court of Victoria purchased land extending from the Yarra River to Toorak Road.
He had a four roomed residence with separate kitchen built and named it 'Como' after the Italian Lake Como where he had proposed to his wife Jessie (pictured, with Justice Williams).

Como during the 1850s and beyond

In 1852 Williams sold Como, with its "noble frontage to the River Yarra," and "most commanding views of the surrounding country that could be desired" to Frederick Dalgety, owner of a firm providing supplies to wool, gold and settlers' trades.
Dalgetty paid £4,200 for the house and grounds, commenting that "I know it was not a bargain, but I foresaw that if I delayed I should not be able to buy except at a higher figure."
Dalgety, however, found Como “infernally dull” and sold it within a year to John Brown, master builder and later a wine and spirits merchant.
It turned out to be a bargain for Dalgety because Brown paid him £12,000 for Como!
Brown had the grounds landscaped and added a second storey to the original four rooms, including a Ball Room overlooking the gardens. The Ball Room, divided by folding doors, can still be seen upstairs. Portraits of John Brown and his wife Helen hang in the Billiard Room.

From the Armytages to the National Trust

In 1864, wealthy pastoralist Charles Armytage bought Como, originally as a town house for himself and his wife Caroline. The Ballroom wing was added in 1874 and includes an upstairs children's wing.
Charles died in 1876, leaving the property to Caroline.
Following Caroline's death in 1909, the property was sub-divided and, along with the house, put up for auction. Her daughters Ada, Laura, Constance and Leila purchased some land and the house and continued to spend most of their adult lives at Como. Ada purchased another family property, Holm Park at Beaconsfield and lived there.
In 1959 Como and its contents was sold by Constance and Leila (pictured as children in the grounds) to the National Trust.

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