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Martindale Hall Story: 5

The Historic interwar Martindale 

Historic Country Home

Historic Country Home

Gift of 25,000 Ransom Mortlock Trust.png

 The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA) Wed 5 May 1937  Page 8

THE mention of the name Mortlock, so much in the public mind this week, because of the generosity of Mrs. Rosye F. Mortlock and her son. Mr. John T. Mortlock, in their gift of £25,000 to build a new laboratory at the Waite Institute, calls to mind the dignified country home of the family. Martindale Hall, Mintaro.

The house was built in 1879 by the late Mr. Edmund Bowman, and acquired in the early nineties by the late Mr. W. T. Mortlock.

It is almost 100 miles north of Adelaide.

Surrounding the house are wide stretches of smooth green lawns, studded here and there with palms and other trees.

Through the lofty doorway, with its coat of arms of the Mortlock family,

"Hic labor, hoc opus" one enters an extensive entrance hall,

from which a Magnificent cedar staircase leads to the pillared gallery, above.

The flooring throughout the hall and gallery is parquet. In the hall are lovely tapestry and Japanese screens, and on its walls more tapestries, and valuable oil paintings.

In the gallery are the family portraits, one or which is of the late Mr. W. T. Mortlock, the original owner, and another of his father, the late Mr. W. R. Mortlock, who came to South Australia in 1843.

The Chandeliers

Gift of £25,000

Advertiser TIM LLOYD November 4, 2014 

Putting the sparkle back in the Ayers House chandeliers

MORE than 3000 crystals are being painstakingly repaired and “re-sparkled” at historic Ayers House on North Terrace this week.

Osler chandeliers were among the wonders of the age, and Sir Henry Ayers ordered two large ones for the ballroom he built at Ayers House in 1859. They glittered above South Australia’s wealthy elite as they danced into the wee hours.

The chandeliers have had their own adventures. After 70 years at Ayers House they were sold.

  • One went to Martindale Hall at Mintaro and

  • the other is still in pride of place in the Queen Adelaide Room at the Town Hall.

  • After many decades in the Mortlock family, the Martindale Hall chandelier was finally returned in 1965 when Ayers House was restored as one of the National Trust of SA’s most prized properties.

Ayers House Chandeliers.jpeg

A magnificent crystal chandelier, which originally belonged to Sir Henry Ayers in his home, Austral House North terrace, lights the whole of the gallery and the hall. In fact, almost every room in the house boasts a crystal chandelier as its means of illumination.

Stately marble mantelpieces are to be found in all the rooms, the one in the drawing-room being particularly fine.

A combination of gilt and tapestry forms the foundation of the furnishing scheme of the drawing-room, while the dining-room, with its fine painted ceiling, has its furniture of cedar.

Chinese Cabinet on Stand
Antique Chinese Cabinet Lord Kitchener Christies.png


Carved throughout with dragons accented with wire whiskers, the cabinet with two panelled doors above a pierced frieze, on a carved stand with cabriole legs mounted by gilt dragons supported by hoof feet
68 ¼ in. (173.5 cm.) high, 70 in. (178 cm.) wide, 23 ½ in. (60 cm.) deep

Acquired by Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener (1850-1916), for Broome Park, Kent, from the Antique and Works of Art dealer, David L. Isaacs, on 2 July 1914.

The contents of the smoking room, gathered from all parts of the world, are particularly interesting.

  • A Chinese lacquer cabinet was the property of Lord Kitchener when he was stationed in India.

  • On the walls are many types of weapons and grotesque masks, colored prints of the funeral of Lord Nelson, and a suit of Japanese armor.


In the extensive grounds are many outbuildings, built at the same time as the house.

  • One of the finest Merino studs in South Australia is at Martindale, but interests are agricultural as well as pastoral.

  • Legend says that an English Eleven played cricket on the Martindale oval about 40 years ago. but it is no legend that Don Bradman made a century there last year (1936).

  • Father Martindale, C.C. (S.J.). during his trip to Australia, visited this old home, and he mentions it in his book. "The Risen Sun - Impressions in New Zealand and Australia."

    • His family originated in the north of England, and he was led to believe that the name of Martindale Hall had some connection with his ancestral name.

Mintaro Carnival Week
Frederick Ranson Mortlock, the youngest son of William and Rosina Mortlock B-53226.jpeg
Frederick Ranson Mortlock, the youngest son of William and Rosina Mortlock B-53227_edited.

Northern Argus (Clare, SA : 1869 - 1954), Friday 14 October 1938, page 6

Mintaro Carnival Week

Frederick Ranson Mortlock Memorial Gates Unveiled.

An Excellent Gala Sports Day.

The carnival week at Mintaro was opened on Monday, when Mr. J. A. T. Mortlock, of Martindale Hall, presented pictures of his travels throughout the states of Australia, taken by himself.

These ware thoroughly appreciated, and showed to advantage the beauty spots in the Commonwealth.

On the holiday the sports in connection with the week were held on the Mortlock Oval, in the presence of a good number of spectators from the surrounding districts, and were carried out very successfully.


A presentation of gates to the Mortlock Oval to perpetuate the memory of the late Mr. Ranson Mortlock was made by

Mrs. R. Mortlock (mother), and Mr. J. A. T. Mortlock (brother) of the late Mr. Ranson Mortlock(illustrated left) 

and a donation from the old Mintaro Picnic Racing Club,

in recognition of the late Mr. Ranson Mortlock's open-hearted assistance in the interests of sports of all descriptions,

not only for Mintaro, but for sport generally in the state.


Mr. P. Jacka (president of the Mintaro Progress Association) was the first speaker, and said he had pleasure in introducing Mrs. R. Mortlock and Mr. J. A. T. Mortlock to those present.

That was not the first time that the Mortlock family had helped the town of Mintaro, and he did not know what they could do without their assistance.

The late Mr. Ranson Mortlock had been held in the highest esteem by everyone. He was the leader in sports of every kind, and they had thought it only fitting that they should erect a memorial to him.

The suggestion had come from the old racing club, and Mrs. and Mr. J. T. Mortlock had provided the balance of the amount required for that purpose.


It was a most appropriate recognition of what Mr. Ranson had done for Mintaro.

He asked Mrs. Mortlock to cut the ribbon and declare the gates open, and Mr. J. A. T. Mortlock to unveil the tablet.

This was done amidst applause.

Mr. J. A. T. Mortlock thanked Mr. Jacka for the kind things he had said about his mother, and himself.

The suggestion of providing the gates to the memory of his brother had come from the picnic race club.

His mother and himself had approved of the suggestion.


His father before them had given the oval to Mintaro for the purpose of recreation and sport, and he himself several years ago had opened the pavilion.

He asked Mr. A. J. Melrose, M.P., as a member of the Mintaro Progress Association to accept on behalf of the people of Mintaro the gates as a memorial to their late son and brother. (Applause.)


Mr. A. J. Melrose, M.P., said it gave him pleasure to receive the gates on behalf of the trust, and thanked them for their generosity and magnanimity, which had also been exercised in many other directions.

Mr. Ranson Mortlock had been held in high respect by all sportsmen, while his father had also done much for Mintaro.

He himself appreciated anything that improved the life in the country, for country people, such as wireless, telephones, etc., and the gift they had received would help in that direction.

He wished also to acknowledge the work done by the Clare District Council, and in making the approaches to the gates, and to Mr. E. Day, the clerk, who had given the gravel for the approach.

He was pleased to accept the gates on behalf of the people of Mintaro.


Mr. M. L. Giles seconded the vote of thanks to Mrs. and Mr. Mortlock, and said that he could assure them that the assistance to Mintaro by their son and brother would never be forgotten.

It was a pleasure to have had his friendship, and the gates would remind them of his sportsmanship, and thoughtfulness. 


Mr. J. H. Richardson, chairman of the Clare District Council, said he was pleased to endorse the remarks of the chairman, and congratulations upon the appropriate tribute that was paid to the memory of the late Mr. Ranson Mortlock.

As chairman, he said the council would do what it could for the roads in Mintaro, but he thought he could say definitely that before long they would have a bitumen road in their Main Street.

Opening of Gates

Elizabeth Warburton writes in her History of Martindale Hall (1) that: 

Of the two sons of the Mortlock family, John was clever and studious, but if Ranson was clever, he hid it successfully.

Despite his wealth, good looks, and high eligibility, or perhaps because of them, Ranson Mortlock neither married, nor achieved great things.

To the enduring sorrow of his mother, he died prematurely, aged (only) thirty six years, never having fulfilled his promise.

Landau Gallery
Landau Gallery

Northern Argus (Clare, SA), Friday 6 November 1936, page 7

Mintaro Centenary Celebrations.



The celebrations of the Centenary commenced at Mintaro on November 1 in the presence of a large crowd of old timers who had returned and residents of the surrounding district.

The committee, with Mr. Paddy Jacka as president, and Mr. G. E. Pulford as hon. secretary, had left nothing undone to make the celebrations a success, and their efforts were well rewarded.

For several months they had been working hard, and the rock garden in the triangle at the north entrance to the town is a tribute to their efficiency.

The town was bedecked with bunting, and lighted at night with colored electric globes.


The Rock Garden was declared open by Sir George Ritchie early on Saturday afternoon. He congratulated them on the work they had done, referring particularly to the work of the ladies.

That was the 52nd centenary function he had attended.


Procession to Mortlock Park

A procession to Mortlock Park followed, where the programme of sports was carried out.

The procession was a lengthy one, and was most interesting.

Mr. C. G. Pulford, attired in an Admiral's uniform, was marshal.

The characters in the procession were quaint and unique.

Mr. Stan McNamara in coachman's attire drove four grey horses in an old landau which the late Mr. W. R. Mortlock imported from London in 1870.

Stan is never satisfied unless he is handling or driving horses, and he looked the old coachman to the life.

In livery beside Stan were John Ross and his little son John.


The occupants of the Iandau were Sir George and Lady Ritchie, Mr. J. T. Mortlock, and Mr. A. J. Melrose, M.P.

Following were

  • representations of the Buffalo;

  • the Yacht Hardship, with the crew and soldiers attired in the uniforms of the period;

  • "Dad and Mum" on our selection,";

  • "John Horrocks, the explorer" and his black boys;

  • Billy Bawden and Bob McEvoy as dryblowers;

  • imitation Percheron horse and foal, quite realistic; and others of interest.

The trophies for the best items in procession were presented to the winners by Mr. A. J. Melrose, M.P. 

THE LUNCHEON. The luncheon was held in a marquee, large numbers of old timers and visitors being present. The ladies provided an excellent repast. Mr. P. C. Jacka presided. A number of toasts weer honored.

Mr. T. Dunn lit the 100 candles on the birthday cake, and Mrs. J. H. Vaughan cut the cake amidst applause. 

Northern Argus (Clare, SA : 1869 - 1954), Friday 6 November 1936, page 7



At the official luncheon Mr. J. A. T. Mortlock gave the following address: Mr. Chairman, Sir George and Lady Ritchie, Ladies and Gentlemen

— I have been asked to-day to propose the toast 'Parliament' coupled with the name of our distinguished guest, Sir George Ritchie.

Of recent years, in what may be described as the weekly 'gutter' press, gibes have been made at our Parliamentary system.

These may be passed over with the derision that they deserve, and I am sure that the public, if only they knew the characters of and saw the types of men who control some of the widely read self-styled 'organs of public opinion' would soon see that the circulation of these journals decreased to a mere fraction of what they now boast.


Also, some citizens, many with the best of intentions, as we have seen in England recently, have advocated other systems, some of communistic origin, others of fascist type.

One peculiarity of all these systems seems to be that a dictator with absolute power seems to be essential to their smooth working, and an other seems to be that the personal liberty and freedom of the individual citizen is absolutely subordinated to the demands of the State, or the individual who controls the State.

Perhaps, the most striking peculiarity of these systems is their foreign origin and their absolute difference to all the attributes that we may designate as 'British.'

Some times when a state goes only partially communistic, fascism is applied as a medicine, and like the disease, the cure is very unpleasant to the individual.

We have seen a good example in the case of Italy, and at the present time we can observe the medicine working a cure gradually in the case of Spain.

The first case seems to be one of an almost painless recovery, but in the case of Spain the cure seems to be almost as bad as the disease.


I do, not for one moment suggest that anything else could have been done in these cases, neither do I wish to belittle the genius of the achievements of Benito Mussolini, but I do wish to point out that under a system of parliamentary government such as ours this state of affairs should be rendered impossible.

Parliamentary Government does not seem to suit all peoples alike.

Read much more..,..

We are glad to welcome you amongst us to-day, and as the son and grandson of old Parliamentarians, I am happy that the task of welcoming you has fallen upon me.

Before concluding my remarks I would be churlish if I did not mention Mr. A. J. Melrose, M.P.. He is not a guest, he is one of ourselves.

Nevertheless he is also a Parliamentarian as well, and is fast making a name for himself as a shrewd and able speaker.

He is a member of one of our great pioneering families, and the name of Melrose will always be honored in South Australia.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I ask you to raise your glasses and drink to the health of Parliament coupled with that of the Hon. Sir George Ritchie.



Mr. M. L. Giles (Mintaro Slate Quarries) proposed the toast of 'The Pioneers', and said:

— In proposing the toast of 'The Pioneers' one is reminded of the early settlement of Mintaro and its early families.

Those names so well known and need no repetition here, and in paying tribute to them we realize the hardships they endured to make possible the enormous productiveness of our district.

Sir Geo. Ritchie earlier in the day told you that it was with temerity he asked for grants for country centres; most of the money for the centenary had been raised in Adelaide.

There was no necessity for this nervousness, when we realise the source from which that wealth came, and in the next age with a redistribution of population, no one would be so foolish as to forecast gain for those places where nature has been so lavish with her gifts.

Now the point I want to make is, what is it in the hearts of the pioneering men and women and their descendants that has given to them the great love and respect for the old spot.

As we slip along through the tunnel of life, we realize and recognise that our fathers and mothers the pioneers here, were people of strong character, honest, industrious, charitable,

and they had embedded deep in them a strong religious conviction for their dependence on a common Heavenly Father,

and although divided in Christianity, they were tolerant, free from the narrow ways, and ever ready to meet on the common platform of Charity,

and were thus endeared to one another, and without this people forget the right to be called noble and great, and to be ever remembered with gratitude.

That is the thought I want you to take away from this toast. Much could be said on such an occasion, but I feel you, the remnant of a noble band of men and women, will accept my apologies and our heart felt thanks for the honor you have done us, your relations.


The Ugly Man Competition in connection with the Mintaro celebrations resulted in a sum of £237/4/10 being collected.

Mr. S. McNamara won with a total of 27,792 votes — £114/8/8;

Mr. S. Garrard, 17,973 votes— £74/17/9;

Mr. W. E. Blatch-ford, 11,610 votes — £47/18/5.

The committee expect to have £600 in hand for the erection of a new hall. The approximate profit on the celebrations is put down at £300, and donations promised for the hall are £300.

The secretary, the committee, and all who. helped on the occasion must be congratulated on the results of their efforts.

Mintaro Centenary Celebrations
Mr J.T. Mortlock's Address
Mr M.L. Giles' Address
Ugly Man Competition
12 Nov 1936 Unique Procession Mintaro Centenery.png
Procession to Mortlock Park
26 Oct 1936 Mintaro Gets Ready_edited.jpg

Elizabeth Warburton writes in her History of Martindale Hall (1) that: 

Of the two Mortlock sons, John was clever and studious, but if Ranson was clever he hid it successfully.

John was described a being 'austere, inaccessible, (and) remote.' 

He was not really a sportsman at all, despite his having 'won races galore with his horses Wizzo, Vesuvius and other good oat-earners'.

... he only patronises sport as a hereditary sense of duty in a perfunctory way'. 

It appeared embarrassingly likely that the renegade 'by his nature and by virtue of his indubitably great intellect and love of learning was predestined to be a university professor'.

'He would chat freely and easily on politics, literature or history; but sport was never mentioned.'

...Despite the handicap of his scholarly and unsporting leanings, he administered steadily and successfully for the rest of his life - earning, what is more, the good will of his work-people and neighbours.

...Even the alleged weakness at sport was overcome, when J.T.Mortlock sailed his yacht Martindale on many waters before lending it to the Australian Government during the Second World War. 



(1) The Bowmans of Martindale Hall  [by] Elizabeth Warburton

NLA Bib ID 1370984; Format Book; Author - Warburton, Elizabeth

Description Adelaide : Dept. of Continuing Education, University of Adelaide, 1979 
158p. : ill.(part col.), map, plans, portrs. ; 24cm. 

ISBN  0855780819

Publication (University of Adelaide. Department of Continuing Education) no.70. Notes: Includes bibliographical reference

Next page:  The University and Martindale Hall

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