A rare and recent gift

A rare and recent gift

Collections Places
Wonnerup House

It is rare to find photographs depicting the interiors of any of our properties. This one from the 1950s shows the Layman family’s dining room at Wonnerup House. This part of the house features a magnificent jarrah overmantle carved by Clair Layman to commemorate the golden wedding anniversary of her parents, George II and Amelia, in 1909.

Their niece, Cara Camilleri, described the dining room in 1954: “This was a very pleasant room […] A three cornered cupboard built by Knapton Snr was on the south east corner; here we kept drinking glasses and any wine or whiskey. A very large dining table of solid jarrah, very wide, was previously the kitchen table.”

By this time Ivan Webster, a nephew of the Layman sisters Nina, Stella, Clair and Ida, was managing the property at the request of his ageing aunts. He inherited the Wonnerup property in 1962 and sold it eight years later ending more than 120 years of family ownership.

Recently, Hollie, a granddaughter of Ivan and his wife Margaret, gave the National Trust a gift of the dining chairs and chiffonier depicted in this photograph. They accompany the “very large jarrah dining table” she previously donated in 2013. The curtains just visible on the right and the trophy that sits atop the “three cornered cupboard” are already in the National Trust’s collection.

This generous donation is extremely exciting and provides us with the opportunity in future to reinstate this room with total accuracy.

It also builds on the National Trust’s collection of colonial Western Australian furniture and supports the rich stories of furniture making in the Vasse in the nineteenth century.

  • Sarah Murphy, Manager Interpretation and Collections
A rare and recent gift

Visit Wonnerup House

Less than 10 km north of Busselton, Wonnerup House is open Thursday to Monday from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm. If you haven’t visited for a while we highly recommend dropping in to see the new approach to storytelling at this important place.

Working with Traditional Custodians and members of the Layman family, the National Trust has installed a simple but provocative presentation to encourage visitors to question their knowledge of the past and to consider how we understand truth.

The current presentation is temporary and the National Trust is seeking funding to undertake more a permanent installation. The objects and furniture that were displayed in the house will remain in storage as we explore ways to present a more layered and comprehensive interpretation of this important site over the next few years.

This work will be supported by consultation with local Aboriginal cultural custodians, descendants of colonial families and the local community, as well as archival research.

Visitors are welcome to explore the house while this work is underway, and may gain insights on the National Trust’s approach to interpretation, storytelling and appreciation of the broader cultural landscape.

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