Great Houses of Ipswich set to dazzle in 2018

Great Houses of Ipswich, run by the National Trust of Australia, opens three beautiful homes and a window into Ipswich's past.
10 Apr 2018
Simone Hubbard, Heritage home blogger


Step inside some great Ipswich houses

Breathe in the grand and gracious, ponder the perfected work of an early Ipswich artisan and unwrap the sweet cottage retreat with the heart of a castle in the leafy layers of Denmark Hill. Great Houses of Ipswich May 12: The autumn edit – Let’s take a sneak peak into what’s on offer… save the date for the next one too, on September 15, 2018.


Rhossilli 11 credit @colonialchik low res


Rhossilli can be described as a Victorian era, larger than average brick residence with lashings of lovely cast iron, a grand portico and an intricately carved fretwork pediment. Her 1880’s construction shows a strong focus on symmetry – built for Richard Gill, an Ipswich Post Master.


Rhossilli 13 credit @colonialchik low res

As with many Great Houses of Ipswich, their prominence is often connected with historical political figures. Rhossilli proudly lays this card on the table, providing residence for William Henry Summerville, his wife Annie and their tribe of six children.

William, a local solicitor, became Ipswich’s chief magistrate and then Ipswich Mayor in 1903 after two terms as councillor. Not at all a stretch to image a man of distinction and pride, surveying his city from the lavish veranda spaces of Rhossili, high on Brisbane Road.

The elevation and comfortable proximity to the grandiose structures of Ipswich Girls Grammar and Rockton, another local residence of significant proportion is a sure-fire indicator of prominence.


Rhossilli 17 credit @colonialchik low res

The tale that followed this great period of ownership was one that folks of Ipswich still recall with light humour and perhaps a little fondness. Rhossilli was converted into flats and later a nursing home providing residence to sometimes an eclectic procession of personalities, making the history somewhat sweeter.

As is often the case with the larger historical homesteads of Ipswich, Rhossilli played host to modification and decay during this period, waiting to be relieved from a lengthy state of hibernation.

Enter resurrection and kindness at the hands of the current owners Ron and Liz, devotees to material and design authenticity. I’m sure that good ol’ William Henry Summerville would thumb his lapel, offering a gratifying nod of approval to the works that have ensued at Rhossilli.

This is my pick for grand architecture, lush lawns and vast vistas. Take a breather here, chat with Ron and Liz about their journey and enjoy the scale of Rhossilli.



An Arts and Craft marvel, built throughout the 1920’s. It is almost impossible to imagine the passion, sweat and enduring dedication in the construction of many historical homes when compared with their modern counterparts – it seems that a home can now be built in 6 months or less. It’s no wonder craftsmanship finds it challenging to be king.


Dougleen 5 credit @colonialchik low res

It is so satisfying to unravel a tale of kingship and craft dedication that we seem as a society so desperate to again embrace in a streamlined and fast-paced vanilla world. Ipswich stone mason Frank Williams spent 11 years of his life on this site, building an ode to his artform. Dougleen was built largely throughout the 1920’s, with dear Frank crafting bricks, marble carvings and unique plaster friezes all onsite in full view of his adoring neighbours. What. A. Legend.


Dougleen 9 credit @colonialchik low res

It appears the talents of Frank William were in such demand, that once he had completed the marble Altar and Communion Rail of St. Mary’s Church, Ipswich, he was inundated with approximately 30 orders for similar work across Australia. The marble Altar of St. Mary’s is said to be the first in Queensland and possibly the first ever made in Australia – previously only imported from Italy.

Australian sportsman and fauna motifs are points of interest for Frank, appearing throughout the dining room. Such welcoming detail in this Arts and Craft home. There is nothing quite this unique in Ipswich – or perhaps anywhere else. It is lovely to ponder Frank’s celebration of this design era and what a remarkable one-off opportunity we have to view his work.


St. Mary’s Altar ca 1919-21 Image Courtesy of Picture Ipswich

In a beautiful twist of fate, current custodian’s Sue and Shaun have realised a lovely synergy with the name Dougleen. It was apparently the names of Frank Williams’ wife and daughter melded together into one. When signing the contract to purchase the home, Sue felt shivers realising that her mother’s and uncle’s names created the same synergistic mix. It was meant to be.

Dougleen is my pick for unearthing something hidden and a little different, with a lovely layer of social context to sink your teeth into. Come along and chat with Sue and Shaun about their custodianship, progressive restoration efforts and passion for this divine addition to the Great Houses of Ipswich.


Brighton Cottage

Offered in a lovely contrast to Rhossilli; Great Houses of Ipswich are honoured to open a delicate ‘timber and tin’ cottage of the same Victorian era in one of Denmark Hill’s most beautiful leafy streets. Welcome to Brighton Cottage.
Swathed in toile, lace and layers of soft textural offerings, Brighton Cottage is believed to have been built late in the late 1880’s. Classic cross balustrade, external wall bracing and horizontal VJ’s all indicators of her early construction period. Do you have a house with these features?


Brighton Cottage 9 credit @colonialchik low res

The home was originally perched next in altitude to what is often referred to as Macfarlane House at the highest point of Denmark Hill. Once occupying a greater land parcel, the land on which Brighton Cottage resides was subdivided, with the home now nestling snuggly into the hillside. A quiet spot, where the home seems to be embraced by the lusciousness of overlapping Poinciana trees.

An avid collector of unique and unexpected antiques, Denise has curated a divine collection to savour with a slow linger. Think predominately pre-1850’s French furniture and collectables mixed with English regency. A Georgian piano crafted in 1790 and an ornately carved dining table, once on show at the National Gallery of Victoria is a testament to Denise’s dedication to appreciating the finer furniture of craftsmen past.


Brighton Cottage 3 credit @colonialchik low res

Offered in contrast to residences of political figures and prominent artisans, Brighton Cottage punches above her weight for her size and reminds us all historical houses can be great.
Visit Brighton Cottage with an open heart and time up your sleeve. My pick for romantic interiors and hidden treasures. Denise and Geoff are looking forward to welcoming you – A lovely one for Mother’s Day.


Brighton Cottage 20 credit @colonialchik low res

Great Houses of Ipswich runs May 12 from 10am to 4pm. Brought to you by National Trust of Australia (Queensland) in partnership with Ipswich City Council. Entry per property is $5 per adult, free for National Trust of Australia members, students and children. Visit for more information and follow ‘Great Houses of Ipswich’ on Facebook or ‘GreatHousesofIpswich_Official’ on Instagram.

You can also book for a heritage coach tour that takes in all three properties and includes Devonshire tea. Full details here:




Simone Hubbard Heritage home blogger
Simone Hubbard is the Vice President of the Ipswich Region branch of the National Trust of Australia (Queensland) and part of the team that brings you the iconic heritage event ‘Great Houses of Ipswich’. Follow her on Instagram (@colonialchik) as she shares her passion for her home, classic interiors, gardens and beautiful local heritage.

Things to do

View more things to do

Tell your story

Got something special you’d love to see highlighted via Discover Ipswich? A new attraction, perhaps, or a restaurant or a venture that people are travelling for? Share your story with us so we can share it to the world!

Send Email