Butchart certainly did well and built Beleura (c1860-1864) on land he purchased in Mornington, then just outside the edge of Melbourne. It still looks like a classical Italianate villa, designed for a Scotsman in semi rural Australia. Further Italianate elements came later eg the Corinthian colonnade veranda and balustrade parapet.
Beleura dining room
After Butchart’s death in 1869, the home was called the finest mansion in the colony and sold to Charles Edward Bright, son in law of Sir John Manners-Sutton, Viscount Canterbury Governor of Victoria 1866-1873. Beleura thus became the unofficial summer retreat for the Governor and his family. Later the house was owned by a succession of rich, powerful and successful families.
Theatrical entrepreneur George Tallis purchased the property in 1915 as a summer retreat, was knighted in 1922 and , on retirement, developed it as a stud. Sir George was the first owner to add land to Beleura, giving it an estate sufficient to support a fine house. Lady Tallis died in 1933 so a very sad Sir George decided to use Beleura only as a summer retreat. He died at Wagga Wagga in 1948. Within a year, the estate was taken over by John Tallis, George's son. He soon dedicated his life to the preservation of the estate. John Tallis died in 1996 and bequeathed Beleura and its considerable contents to the State. The property is now managed as a house museum by the Tallis Foundation.
Sir George Tallis
To celebrate the Centenary of Tallis Ownership, special events were arranged for Aug and Sep 2016. Australia's best theatrical manager between 1874-1907 was JC Williamson when there was a strong connection between Williamson and Tallis. JC Williamson’s most successful ventures was the Royal Comic Opera Company. Its greatest star was Florence Young, who was Sir George Tallis’ sister-in-law, Lady Tallis’ sister. In very short time, Sir George Tallis was JC Williamson’s Victorian manager.
In August 2016, a concert was presented by the Beleura Tallis Foundation and Beleura House and Garden, Mornington. The musical show, 1916!, was set in Sir George Tallis’ office at Her Majesty’s theatre in August 1916, the opening night of The Girl in the Train. As the curtain went up, Sir George took a moment to reflect. With fine singers from the world of opera and music theatre, a professional string ensemble and strong period costumes, 1916! celebrated the 100th anniversary AND the connection between the Tallis family and Beleura.
House and Garden Tours will be held throughout the last week in September. Visitors will be brought to Beleura by a courtesy bus from a nearby location in Mornington. Morning tea will be served on arrival, followed by a light lunch between the House & Garden Tours. From the time the bus picks up the visitors until the time of return to the car park, the tour will take approximately 4.5 hours.
Thank you to Heritage Listed Locations for the garden, architectural and entertainment histories of this estate.