Melbourne historic mansion fittings bite the auction dust

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 1st March, 2017

Expensive fixtures once part of Melbourne’s largest late 19th century residence, Cliveden – and salvaged to reside in the dining room of the same name at the Pullman (formerly Hilton) Hotel built on the East Melbourne site – are the historic highlights of a massive E.J Ainger warehouse clearance auction from 11am Sunday March 5 at 16 Baker Street, Richmond.

One of the saved fixtures is a fine 19th century Italian stained and leaded glass mural of Madonna with arms outstretched and text ‘Thou Art as Welcome as the Flowers in May’ flanked by two smaller panels of courtiers.

At the time, Australia’s largest landholder William Clarke and his family spared no expense in either the construction or embellishment of the 28-bedroom, five-bathroom Cliveden mansion (total cost a staggering £182,000).

In addition to the Italian stained glass and team of Florence craftsmen brought over to work on the fittings, oak panelling was shipped from England and three oversize marble fireplaces were incorporated into the dining room.

In 1888, the family moved into the mansion and – considered a major showpiece famous for its size, settings and views – the house soon became the centre of Melbourne’s elite social scene.

In 1909 on wife Janet’s death, the mansion was sold to the Baillieu family who converted it to 48 luxury apartments, much sought after because of their opulence and the Cliveden name.

However, at World War II end perks such as a communal dining room and shared garage and mechanic were deemed unnecessary and the ageing building’s prestige began to slip.

In 1968, the Baillieu family sold the by now decrepit apartment block and it was controversially demolished to make way for the new Hilton Hotel high rise.

Another Cliveden fixture at Aingers auction is one of the dining room fireplaces – an outstanding 19th century Carrara marble mantel and fireplace surround containing dental mouldings above a frieze of carved cherubs and foliage designed and sculpted by the Florence craftsmen.

A third is the grand entrance doors to the original Cliveden dining hall featuring stained and leaded glass with a rose medallion in each panel, also specifically designed and crafted.

The remainder of the auction features furniture and furnishings that Aingers has stored for years including Australian, English and French antique furniture and contemporary household furnishings.

Other attractions include architectural furniture such as antique wooden and iron doors, French palatial mirror and upright glass display cabinets.

Auction goers will be interested in the genuine Persian and contemporary floor rugs – along with an outstanding pair of life size sculptured marble sphinxes.

A major drawcard is a magnificent Victorian flame mahogany library bookcase and a French walnut four-leaf banquet dining table.

There also are five antique English mahogany cased eight-day grandfather clocks and superbly carved English baronial furniture.

Other features include a Tasmanian Huon pine wardrobe and dressing table and a large selection of Victorian, Edwardian and 1920s Australian, English, French and oriental furniture.

Viewing of the Cliveden Room fixtures at the Pullman Hotel:

5pm-7pm Thursday and Friday

4pm-7pm Saturday

Baker Street, Richmond viewing times:

10am-5pm Thursday and Friday

10am-4pm Saturday

10am-llam Sunday

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