GRAND LADY: Mona Lodge will be open to the public as part of the Great Houses of Ipswich.
GRAND LADY: Mona Lodge will be open to the public as part of the Great Houses of Ipswich. Rob Williams

Historic lady's lovely tale of Ipswich

SHE'S a grand old lady perched on Denmark Hill and has been a part of Ipswich since her construction in 1858.

Mona Lodge is one of three historic Ipswich homes that will be opened to the public on Saturday as part of the special event Great Houses of Ipswich.

Mona's story begins in the mid-1800s when an Ipswich watch and clock maker purchased the land on Nicholas Street for £75.


In 1863 it was advertised as lodgings for 'one or two gentleman' and one of the earliest residents was Thomas Given, also a clock maker.

Mr Given arrived in the colony in 1855 and set up a business in Ipswich on Brisbane St in 1856. He later became an alderman on the council.

In 1865 a Miss Mary Sargent advertised for day pupils at Mona Lodge and the following year planned to take in six young ladies as boarders who could takes classes in English education, French, music, German, drawing and dancing.

Classes began at the beginning of 1867 but appear to have been short lived, ending in April the same year when Miss Mary Sargent married Thomas Given.

The following year Thomas and Mary Ann Given moved to Toowoomba, leaving Given's mother Martha to reside at Mona Lodge until her death late in 1872.

Mona Lodge again became a school for young girls when Mrs Mary Darnley Morrison leased the building from Thomas Lyons in 1873. Darnley-Morrison was a widow from Glasgow, Scotland who, with her daughter, arrived in Ipswich in the mid-1860s.

Over the next decade, she taught classes in dancing and physical culture for young Ipswich ladies, at various places.

In 1885, Thomas Lyons subdivided the allotment, constructing at the corner of Court and Nicholas Streets the two-storey residence known today as The Chestnuts, also on the Ipswich Heritage Trail.

The astute Mary Darnley Morrison purchased both buildings that same year, moving into The Chestnuts and renting out Mona Lodge until 1901.

In that year, Mona Lodge was sold to Charolotte Grace, whose late husband William had been licensee of the Caledonian Hotel in the 1880s. Mona Lodge has had a number of owners since that time.

Today's owners Ruth and John Wiley have painstakingly and lovingly restored the home to accentuate its historic features while creating functional home, fit for a family.

Apart from the historical renovations including extensions that allowed a carport to be added, over the past two years extensive work has been undertaken with perfecting the outside area the most recent project.

This includes landscaping and the addition of 13 windows rescued from the demolition of a nearby building to enhance the rear extension added in the 1930s.

Toronto on Quarry St and Parkside on Thorn St will also open to the public.

Great Houses of Ipswich will be 10am to 4pm on Saturday. National Trust members, students and children enter free, or, $5 a person, each property.

Bookshop closure the end of a chapter

premium_icon Bookshop closure the end of a chapter

Poor foot traffic, parking and a general lack of vibe to blame.

Asian chow another victim of CBD redevelopment

premium_icon Asian chow another victim of CBD redevelopment

"We have been here since February 1995, a little bit over 24 years"

Win a free cruise for you and your friends

Win a free cruise for you and your friends

Your chance to escape to paradise