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Studley Hall

Charles Griffith, a merchant, built the villa which was the genesis of the great house that now forms part of Burke Hall, home of the Preparatory School for Xavier College. The house was originally called Waverley.

Griffith did not stay long at Waverley. He sold it in 1873 to John Simson, owner of Trawalla Station, near Beaufort. Simson altered and enlarged the house into the large two-storey mansion it is today.

In time the Simsons moved to another grand house, Trawalla, in Toorak, but they retained ownership of Waverley until 1882, and resumed it later under the terms of a mortgage.

A succession of comparatively prosperous people lived in the house, until it was bought in 1900 by Elise Pinschoff, renowned singer and wife of Count Carl Ludwig Pinschoff, consul for Austria-Hungary. The Pinschoffs changed the name to Studley Hall.

With the involvement of Austria-Hungary on the enemy side during the First World War, the Pinschoffs left Studley Hall. The London Bank of Australia Limited, to which the Pinschoffs had given a second mortgage, sold the property in 1918. The part on which Studley Hall stood was bought on behalf on the Crown and was used in the later years of the war as a rest home for service nurses.

Studley Hall was sold to Mr. Thomas Michael Burke, a catholic businessman, who was granted the title on 20 February 1920. He presented it to the Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Mannix, who in turn presented it to Xavier College. After some reconstruction and alteration it was opened as a Preparatory School on 13 February 1921 with Father James O'Dwyer, S.J., as first headmaster.

In 1926 a further gift from the Burke family was received - a Chapel built in honour of Thomas Michael Burke's brother. In recognition of this, the name of the school campus was changed to Burke Hall.

In 1991 much of the building was redecorated. Its features include carved stairways, roses, cornices, marble fireplaces, stained-glass windows and chandeliers. The six basement rooms ("the dungeons") have also been recently redecorated and are now used as drama classrooms.

The buildings at the back of Studley Hall were originally occupied by the stable boys and the maids. Some of these buildings are in their original state.

These notes have been prepared from the book "Hawthorn and Kew Sketchbook" written by Brian Carroll and with the kind assistance of Xavier College.