Rippon Lea is a large 19th century mansion surrounded by 7 hectares of Victorian pleasure gardens. It is listed on the National Heritage Register as one of the finest examples of original suburban estate in Australia.
The house was completed in 1868. It was built for Frederick Sargood. Sargood made his money selling soft-goods on the goldfields. The house is named after his mother’s maiden-name, Rippon. Lea is an English word for meadow. The property was a large, self-sufficient farm, about twice the size it is now. The mansion was originally 15 rooms; it currently has 33 rooms. Sargood moved in with his first wife, Marian, and their 9 surviving children. There were 7 maids, a butler, 7 gardeners, a coachman and a groom.
Sargood was a typical man of the Victorian Age – visionary and practical. This resulted in an elaborate underground watering system and the house having its own electricity supply. Unusually for its time, the house had internal toilets. Sargood was a keen gardener who was particularly interested in orchids and ferns. A large number of plants were imported.
The garden is complex and covers almost 14 acres, which includes a large lake, extensive shrubberies and flower gardens, an orchard of historically significant fruit varieties, a fernery, rose gardens and many other features of historical, landscape and architectural interest, all forming the setting for the polychrome brick mansion completed in 1868.