Attingham Summer School 2016

lauretta-zillesBY LAURETTA ZILLES
Copland Foundation – Alex Copland Attingham Scholar

A sneak preview of what to expect on Sunday 16 October when Buda’s curator, Lauretta Zilles, reflects on her recent scholarship study tour to the United Kingdom.

After returning home from five weeks in the UK, I certainly have some stories to tell. Three weeks of that time was spent exclusively visiting stately homes in the English countryside, some of them rarely open to the public. The other two weeks were mostly spent in London doing research on Ernest Leviny and visiting galleries, museums and believe it or not . . . even more house museums!

Being awarded The Copland Foundation’s Alex Copland Attingham  Scholarship this year allowed me to travel to the UK to attend the exclusive Attingham Summer School, visiting around 32 English country houses, churches and galleries in and around Sussex, Derbyshire and Yorkshire. I was the only Australian to attend, along with 47 other participants who had all travelled from different parts of the world. This once in a lifetime experience was most rewarding and memorable

Left: Looking at rare books in the library at Petworth House   Right: A lecture in the paintings and sculpture gallery at Petworth

The Attingham Trust focusses on giving heritage, art and museum professionals the opportunity to study the architecture, interiors, collections and gardens of a cross-section of Britain’s stately homes. Participants are immersed in lectures, seminars and guided tours lead by highly regarded specialists in various fields of study. On the Summer School course, participants are given exclusive access to rare archives, exceptional art, furniture and decorative arts collections, and are allowed access into storage and other areas not normally open to the general public. On one occasion, at Hardwick Hall, we were led up an ancient oak staircase and onto the original leaded rooftop among the amazing Elizabethan chimneystacks – the wind was blowing a gale, but the views across the countryside were staggeringly beautiful.


Among the chimneys on the rooftop at Hardwick Hall

Among the many highlights was a visit to the magnificent Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, where access was given  to original family letters, diaries and garden plans etc. some dating back to the 1600s. This was followed by a guided tour conducted by the Duke himself who showed us through their private living apartments to view the fine collection of modern artworks they have amassed, followed by lunch with him in the private restaurant dining room.


Flintham Hall, Nottinghamshire – Home to Sir Robert Hildyard

We had the privilege of dining with a number of quite distinguished owners of these beautiful old homes, and other times joined them for drinks on the terrace. This was a wonderful to finish the day off and a good way to truly appreciate the grandeur of the surroundings and get a taste the lifestyle of the landed gentry. We were told lots of stories by the property owners (or occasionally the descendants of original owners) about their ancestors, and how they came to own the property. Some of these stories were quite colourful and always fascinating with many twists and turns. The determination of the present generations to preserve their family heritage and willingness to share it with the public is remarkable, considering the high costs of maintenance and operations.


Chinese wallpaper in a bedroom at Broughton Castle, Oxfordshire

The elderly Lord Saye and Sele at Broughton Castle in Oxfordshire, was quite exuberant, telling us the story of how he came to have such an odd surname, sharing with us the plottings of his ancestor against the Charles I,  and jumping at the chance to show us around his beautiful, moat-bordered garden. Such was his passion for the place, we all instantly fell in love with it too.

My interests also lay in seeing how the properties were managed, looking at modes of interpretation and observing the visitor services, public programs and general usage of the places visited.  The extensive conservation works that have been carried out on some of these homes is quite phenomenal – and the maintenance of the gardens and grounds is taken very seriously, with numerous garden staff to keep it all looking lovely. What is apparent in the UK is a wide-scale appreciation for heritage at government, philanthropic and general public levels, and an inclusive attitude that these places are there, kept and open for all to enjoy.


Children enjoying the gardens at Nymans, Sussex

There was a lot to see and take in on the tour, we were sometimes visiting two or three properties in a day and I am still processing it all.  Though intensive, I loved every minute – it was such a pleasurable time spent with a fabulous bunch of like-minded people talking about all-manner of things affecting the work that we do. We are all keeping in touch and still sharing our thoughts and ideas, which is the continuing bonus after this momentous event.


The Attingham Summer School 2016 group on the terrace at Petworth House, Sussex

I am indebted to The Copland Foundation for their generosity and support. Without them Australian’s would have difficulty taking part in this outstanding, world-class learning and interactive opportunity. Thanks to my employer, Buda, for supporting this one-off opportunity for professional development. I am also grateful to the Directors and Coordinators of the Attingham Summer School – their work in organising the course visits as well as managing to transport, feed and accommodate 48 of us for eighteen days, was a major military manoeuvre, but they all managed to come up smiling at the end of each day (perhaps drinks on the terrace helped!).  They made this a most rewarding and unforgettable highlight of my professional career which will stay with me forever.

Anyone interested in attending Lauretta’s talk – The English Country House – on Sunday 16 October 2016 (2.00-4.00pm) should ring Buda on 03 5472-1032 to reserve a place.  Cost is $5.00 including afternoon tea.  Free to Buda volunteers.


A Social Gardening Experience


buda-vol-marshall-mcdonald-fence-14062016-smlWHEN Buda was nominated for a local heritage building improvement award in 2015 one volunteer in particular was delighted.  Marshall McDonald from Clydesdale has been working on a new picket fence for Buda with John Horner since April 2013.

“We started on the front fence along Hunter Street and are now working towards the side gate along Urquart Street,” explains Marshall. “So far it has taken us around 14 to 15 months.”

When you look closely at the workmanship you will understand why. Like all fences of the time, the pickets and double plinth boards are hand cut and hand nailed with the intention that they will surround the historic goldfields property for another 30 to 40 years. And it’s all done by part-time volunteers!

“Even though Buda didn’t win the award, it was still nice to know that it was nominated,” says Marshall.

After having a long association with the region, Marshall made the permanent move to Clydesdale near Newstead in 2010. Previously he had worked 32 years in prestige detailing of cars.  Soon after settling in he started volunteering at Buda in November, 2010.  I am impressed that he can remember.

A sixth generation descendent of John Batman he has always been interested in history so Buda was a perfect match.

“The setting and garden history; we are so lucky to be able to volunteer in a place like this,” says Marshall.  He considers Buda to be his “social gardening experience.”

Over the years he has helped out on a number of other small projects including rebuilding a retaining wall, composting, and repairing gates as was his task the day I caught up with him.  One of his most interesting tasks was working on the roofs of the house and tennis pavilion.

“You can see how the house has evolved in different periods of time by looking at the roof structure.  One of the nicest photos I took from the roof was looking back over the pleasure garden.”


When it comes to his favourite place at Buda Marshall has no hesitation.

“I like looking at Mother’s veranda, the floor tiles, and the Bunya Bunya tree.  Very few go around there but I always tell visitors to walk that side of the house.”

When I ask what has most surprised Marshall at Buda, he took the opportunity to reflect on the sum of his six years experiences.

“How well everything is coming together,” he says with a hint of pride. “It takes time to get projects done, it’s a very gradual process and doesn’t happen overnight, but that’s why we volunteer.”

For information about a wide range of volunteering roles at Buda please contact Clare Hutchison on Tel: 03 5472-1032 during office hours or call in at 42 Hunter Street, Castlemaine.

Are there fairies at the bottom of Buda’s garden?


Buda Vol Janet Russell 14062016 smlWHEN Janet Russell was considering the options of where she would like to volunteer her time, Buda Historic Home & Garden was her immediate choice.

“I like gardening and being outside,” Janet admits. “How nice to spend time in a lovely garden and be part of its care and maintenance.”

One of her first surprises upon starting to volunteer three years ago was the size of the garden.

“Not many people get to work in a three acre garden.  We do a bit of everything including weeding and raking. Recently I’ve also helped to clean out the old chook shed which is getting restored. Today’s task is trying to reclaim an edge of a garden bed.”

Janet and a fellow volunteer recently discovered three resident blue tongues hibernating for the winter. “It’s always a thrill when we find something like this,” says Janet.

When asked what her favourite place is Janet immediately leads me to the bottom of the Buda garden where the Medlar tree (not fairies as some would have you believe), is located.

“It absolutely glows in autumn when the sun it out,” explains Janet.

Mespilus germanica

Mespilus germanica, known as the medlar or common medlar, is a large shrub or small tree, and the name of the fruit of this tree. The fruit has been cultivated since Roman times, and is unusual in being available in winter, and in being eaten when bletted. It is eaten raw and in a range of dishes. When the genus Mespilus is included in the genus Crataegus, the correct name for this species is Crataegus germanica Kuntze.

For information about a wide range of volunteering roles at Buda please contact Clare Hutchison on Tel: 03 5472-1032 during office hours or call in at 42 Hunter Street, Castlemaine.

Welcome to Buda’s new Garden Curator


Jill Hilldebrandt 2016-06-06 smlA SIGNIFICANT changing of the guard recently took place at Buda.  After 29 years of volunteering and working as Buda’s Garden Curator, Dianne Thomson, was fondly farewelled at an afternoon tea on Sunday 5 June. Jill Hildebrandt stepped into the coveted role the very next day and hit the ground running!

After a lengthy recruitment process that attracted a high calibre of applicants, Jill was delighted to be offered the position.

“The opportunity to work in the heritage garden at Buda with a team of dedicated volunteers was most appealing to me,” says Jill when asked what attracted her to the role.

“I’m looking forward to working in the garden in all the seasons, discovering the different plants and flowers as they show their glorious faces. Spending time getting to know the volunteers and having fun while we garden and grow plants together.

A resident of Chewton, Jill is bringing an impressive work history and a broad range of skills to Buda.

She has worked in the horticultural industry in various roles for most of her career spanning 35 years.  Roles have included working as a horticultural technician/gardener at The Royal Botanic Gardens in Cranbourne, with the Merri Creek Management Committee Parklands team doing revegetation and restoration works, and as manager of the Edendale Nursery for six and a half years.  Most recently Jill was part of the Rosalind Park intensive horticulture team working for the City of Greater Bendigo.

Jill Hilldebrandt 2 2016-06-06 smlAmidst some welcome rain, Jill was kept busy on her first few days at Buda, meeting with volunteers, checking out the tool shed, and tracking down some troublesome tree roots blocking our drainage system.” Despite this she had a big smile on her face.

“I’m feeling very excited and highly motivated by all there is to learn about Buda, her community and gardens. Lots of new plants to meet and get to know, which is always great.”

Jill is very thankful to Dianne for so generously sharing her time and knowledge during the handover and for the warm welcome she has received at Buda.

“I’m looking forward to meeting and working with you all for the greater good of Buda and the gardens.”

You can catch up with Jill on Mondays and Tuesdays at Buda if you’d like to enquire about volunteering or seek advice on Buda’s plants available for sale.  Stay tuned for some specials to be announced.  The Buda Nursery can be accessed free of charge seven days a week when Buda is open to the public.

Celebrating Buda’s Volunteers: Margaret

Buda Margaret Beasley Apr 201604


AFTER wanting to move from Bendigo to Castlemaine for more than 30 years (as long as Buda has been open to the public), Margaret Beasley’s wish finally came true in 2015.

Margaret is one of Buda’s latest volunteer recruits and can be found in reception on Friday afternoons each fortnight.

She first found out about Buda when she visited the plant nursery.  In fact she initially considered volunteering in the garden but decided against it.

“As I had moved into a new house surrounded by mostly bare dirt, I thought that working on one garden was enough,” she laughs.

Instead she chatted with a volunteer in the office and decided that reception would be a nice alternative and signed up to receive the training.

Margaret’s first day as a volunteer at Buda was in a memorable 42 degree heat.  Thankfully she has enjoyed much more pleasurable temperatures since.

“I love meeting and talking with people,” she says.  “Visitors come to Buda with such different interests and backgrounds.”

Her favourite part of Buda is The Gallery where she elected to have her photo taken.  “I’d love a gallery just like this at our house looking out on the garden,” she explains.

“People of my generation remember many of the things at Buda from our own grandparents’ homes.  How extraordinary that it is being preserved for future generations to also enjoy.”

What is most surprising to Margaret is the constant struggle with finances to keep Buda open to the public.

“Most assume that Buda is receiving regular funding but instead it relies on the dedication of volunteers.”

Another surprise has been the events that are run in the Buda Garden Room.

“They are just so varied and interesting,” she says.  “Recently we had a chef talking about his home town in Italy while creating an authentic lunch.”

Never a dull moment at Buda!

Call Buda on 03 5472-1032 if you are interested in developing your skills and meeting with people.

An ‘Open Sesame’ to the UK’s Country Houses

By Buda House Curator – Lauretta Zilles

IMG_2773 sml

It is only a matter of weeks now until I leave Australia to attend the Attingham Summer School in the UK. The program, coordinated by the Attingham Trust, will take a large group of us to 15 historic country properties over an 18 day period. This fantastic opportunity has been awarded me by the Copland Foundation through the Alex Copland Attingham Scholarship 2016.

The Summer School program will cover country houses in Sussex, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire expressly for the purpose of examining the architecture, social history, gardens and landscapes of a select group of country houses, and to study the contents and collections unique to each property.

The houses we visit will include some with a history dating back as far as 1000 years, such as Arundel Castle in West Sussex. Many are still privately owned and all offer something quite distinctive either in their architecture, gardens or collections held. We will be given exclusive tours and lectures by the directors and other specialists along the way – so I expect much ‘insider’ information will be gleaned from these sessions, which I am very much looking forward to.

Arundel Castle

The walled garden at Arundel Castle in West Sussex

images NT Calke Abbey

The cellars at Calkey  Abbey in Derbyshire

On doing preliminary research in preparation for the trip, some of the places that particularly take my interest include Calke Abbey in Derbyshire. It is described as ‘The un-stately home and country estate’ with peeling paintwork and overgrown courtyards, telling the story of the dramatic decline of an English country house estate. The grounds also have a 1,200 year old oak tree known as the ‘Old Man of Calke’ as well as pleasure grounds with a flower garden, an auricula theatre and a gardeners’ tunnel – I can hardly wait!

Broughton Castle in North Oxfordshire, Chatsworth in Derbyshire and Castle Howard in Yorkshire have all been featured in film and television programs, and will of course be wonderful highlights on the itinerary. Burton Constable, an Elizabethan house in Yorkshire with parkland designed by Capability Brown also includes a ‘cabinet of curiosities’ inside the house, arguably the most notable to survive in an English country house setting, containing fabulous objects collected by the great antiquary and patron, William Constable.


Cabinet of Curiosities at Burton Constable in Yorkshire

There will be around 48 participants attending the Attingham Summer School from many parts of the world – so it will be fascinating to hear stories and share information with such a large and diverse group during our time spent together. I will be presenting a lecture on my experiences when I return home, so stay tuned to Buda’s website for further information on this coming event – there will be much to tell.

While in the UK I will also be taking the opportunity to follow-up on some research relating to the years Ernest Leviny spent in London between 1846 and 1852. I will present a talk on this subject later in the year to our Buda volunteers. Any members of the public interested in attending this session will be welcomed also.

The Copland Foundation is an Australian-based organisation which supports institutions and individuals within Australia operating in the fields of conservation, historic house museums, fine and decorative art museums, science museums and libraries. The Alex Copland Attingham Scholarship and the Nina Stanton Attingham Scholarship enable Australians to travel to the United Kingdom each year to attend courses run by The Attingham Trust.

Celebrating Buda’s Volunteers: Chris Wheat

Chris Wheat sml 17042016WHEN Chris Wheat visited Castlemaine in the early 1980’s to watch a friend perform in a production of the Only A Mill Girl, he also visited Buda Historic Home & Garden, not long after it had first opened to the public.  “I was captivated,” he admits.

Some years later, after purchasing a property in Castlemaine, he found himself living in the same street as Mary Thompson who was involved on the Buda Committee of Management.

“Mary encouraged me to join Buda as she was running the guide training at that time,” explains Chris.

While some would argue that it is was very hard to say ‘no’ to Mary who has been a tireless volunteer for Buda, others including Chris would say it was an easy decision to say ‘yes’ having already experienced some of Buda’s magic.  It’s been a decision not regretted according to Chris.

With almost a decade of experience under his belt Chris is now a familiar face at Buda, often taking tours, and sometimes at reception, even more so since he has retired from teaching.

“I feel as if I am contributing in a small way to the preservation and promotion of an important part of Australia’s cultural heritage. The house may not be as glamorous as Como or Ripponlea but it is a significant treasure which we are handing to the next generation and asking them to look at this place and imagine life before they were born and think about how some of their forebears must have lived. When we do that we automatically compare their lives to ours and that, in a weird way, assists us with our own living.’

Buda Light Main Sitting Room sml

When asked what his favorite item in the house is Chris has no hesitation in pointing to the light fitting in the main sitting room.

“This speaks to us about the sisters,” says Chris. “The house is conventional in many ways, then one notices small oddities and in this important room, where guests were received, is something that must have raised an eyebrow or two – not something rather grand like a chandelier, but a simple light fitting reminiscent of a gold panning dish with an amber glass centre. Was it a creation of Dorothy’s?  Did it cause debate in the house? Isn’t it a bit too bohemian? Wouldn’t people have laughed?  But to me, and to us I hope, it’s wonderful!”

When it comes to a favorite place on the property, Chris is enamored with three little stone steps near the aviary, one of which is inscribed LL, for Louis Leviny.

Buda steps LL sml“When taking visitors around Buda I like to mention Hilda’s funeral in the garden and her coffin being piped along the paths. This says a lot about Hilda and a lot about the Castlemaine community.”

Like many of the volunteers, Chris enjoys the few occasions when you find yourself alone at Buda.

“Sometimes when I’m locking up and the house is deserted and the sun begins to set scarlet or orange through the west windows, patches on the floors and walls are illuminated and there’s not a sound.”

Thank you Chris for sharing.

by Kerry Anderson

NB:  In recent months Chris has been researching Ernest Leviny’s many land holdings around the Castlemaine district.  He will be sharing his knowledge with volunteers and anyone interested at Buda on Friday 20 May, 2016 over morning tea commencing 10.30am.  For enquiries about this event or if you would like to become a volunteer, please call Buda on 03 5472-1032

Passing on the legacy

Dianne Thomson 290320161SITTING under the oak tree, cuppa in hand, we recently invited Buda Historic Home & Garden’s soon to be retired Garden Curator, Dianne Thomson, to reflect on her 29 years of volunteering and working in this heritage garden of national significance.

Following in the footsteps of a handful of privileged custodians since this goldfields heritage garden was established in 1861, Dianne quietly admits a strong attachment.

“I have an enormous love of this garden.”

Asked what she has most enjoyed about the Buda garden, she immediately cites the peacefulness.

“Even though you’re in this huge space and often can’t see anyone, you never feel alone. One of the best times to be in the garden is on a summer evening.”

With autumn upon us, she admits that Miss Hilda’s walk is one of her favourite places.

With much fondness she also recalls the many staff and volunteers over the years she has worked with, and found companionship with, including the late Harry Maddox, a retired agricultural scientist, who looked after the chooks at Buda.  His wife Molly wrote a lovely article about Harry for the Buda newsletter which is well worth reading according to Dianne.

“Not so long ago we found Harry’s boots when we cleaned out the garden shed,” Dianne laughs.

Another person who features a lot in her reminiscing is the late John Gowty who was the manager of Buda when Dianne first began as a volunteer in 1987 only five years after it opened to the public.  She had just moved to Castlemaine from Williamstown where she taught and was introduced to Buda by a friend.  Dianne’s first allocated task was to weed.

“I remember celebrating my 40th birthday at Buda in spring amidst a sea of weeds,” she smiles wryly.  “Apart from a few overseas exchange students we didn’t have many volunteers at that time,” she recalls.  “Clive Winmill had just finished the initial restoration work in the garden and moved on so John gave me the rose garden to tidy up. Two days a week I just kept going right through the whole garden and then started over again.”

Dianne’s volunteer role soon turned into one paid day of work, taking over from Jim Rowe, to rake the paths at $9 per hour (NB: she has since received a wage rise!)  Naturally, she kept up the war on weeds in her own time as well.

“We’ve had some wonderfully skilled and dedicated volunteers over the years,” Dianne remembers.  “People like Penny Garnett, and Helen Waite, who one day brought a baby kangaroo with her in a basket.  The next time she came there was a human baby (her daughter Margaret) in the basket; we were never quite sure what to expect!”

After John Gowty’s untimely death Graham Tardy took over the management of Buda.  As her role transitioned into two paid days a week with the title of Garden Curator and lots more decision making required, Dianne took herself off to night school at Bendigo TAFE and obtained a Diploma in Horticulture over a three year period.

“In many ways we are running four small businesses at Buda with very little back up.”

Dianne is particularly grateful to the many master tradesmen who provide such great assistance in maintaining the many outbuildings and house exterior, another of her important responsibilities.

“During my time at Buda we’ve been able to provide serious restoration work to all the outbuildings at least once.  I’ve been so lucky to have the support of tradespeople like Bill Snoek, Peter and Damian Whaley, John Horan, and Rene Kink, just to mention a few.  It’s still amazing to me that Bill came to Buda after working at St Paul’s Cathedral.  I have such confidence in all these tradesmen and know that the job will always be perfect.”

Not much has changed in how things are done in the Buda garden since the days of Walter Cross who was head gardener at Buda during the Leviny family’s residence.  While Walter’s clippers and step ladder are retired in the shed, much of the work by volunteers is still hands-on.

On the other hand, many aspects of Buda as a tourist destination have changed dramatically.

When Dianne first began almost three decades ago it was all hands to deck when a bus load of visitors arrived at Buda.

“Win McMeikin made and served teas on wooden trestle tables in the courtyard, and also volunteered in the gift shop.  John took the tours and everyone helped out because there were so few of us.”

When visiting Buda for the opening of the Garden Room in 1995, the Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett was amazed at the scope of work that Dianne was responsible for with only a few volunteers.

“Jeff Kennett introduced me to other sources of volunteers through the correction and work training programs,” recalls Dianne.

As more volunteers have gravitated to Buda, Dianne’s role has become more management and teaching focussed although she still happily chats with visitors wandering in the garden.

“Buda is now an accredited museum and this has taken an awful lot of paper work,” Dianne reflects.  Likewise, many studies and reports have been carried out requiring extensive input but happily the end results have been to accentuate the importance of Buda and support its conservation efforts.

As part of the challenges that have presented over the years Dianne has received generous advice from horticultural experts such as John Hawker, Greg Moore and David Smith.

“They have all been so helpful when I’ve approached them about an issue of a fungus on a tree, the impact of the drought on the garden, and the gradual demise of the hedge.”

“The Hedge!”  I am surprised it has taken this long to come up in the conversation.

“What a nonsense that was.” Dianne grimaces as she recalls the nightmare of trying to decide when to remove it as it slowly collapsed upon itself despite extensive and expensive arborist attention over the years.  An overnight summer storm in January 2011 totally collapsed the hedge making the decision an easy one. An amazing 48 tons of debris was removed! Now a new hedge is happily growing as part of the continuing evolution of the Buda garden.

Dianne Thomson 290320168One of Dianne’s other vivid memories was of a limb crashing down from the sugar gum (since removed for safety reasons) as she and volunteers were walking to the propagating sheds.  The bulldozers coming in to carve a site for the now very popular Garden Room was another difficult time and part of the constant challenge of a heritage property remaining sustainable.

I ask Dianne about her thoughts on the Leviny family that established the legacy of Buda.

“What interesting times they lived in,” Dianne replies, “there was great turmoil with two world wars and depressions.”  Despite this, she thinks that they “must have been a great deal of fun.”

When asked about what achievement she is most proud of during her time at Buda, Dianne immediately says “Getting the weeds under control. We had everything from African Boxthorn to Yorkshire Fog grass.” Dianne now teaches volunteers the Bradley Sisters method of weeding, up to down and from good to bad.

I am forced to ask her “What else?”  There are so many other achievements that I know she has played a key role in.

Propagating sheds now supply a retail nursery that brings in valuable income.  A slow planned replacement program has been implemented. The installation of an underground tank to collect rain water has helped to provide water to the garden. Every tree, shrub and plant in the Buda garden has been catalogued.  The list goes on.

“My aim has been to record as much as possible so it is there for the future,” Dianne explains.

Yes you have, we agree wholeheartedly.  Dianne Thomson has helped to ensure that the Buda legacy will continue.

Thank you Dianne and all the best for your retirement in May that involves building a new home, exploring Australia, and a trip to Shanghai following in the footsteps of plant hunter Robert Fortuna.  We can’t think of a more deserving person to enjoy some time off.

By Kerry Anderson
5 April, 2016

VACANCY: Buda in Castlemaine is currently seeking a confident and experienced horticulturalist in a rare and exciting opportunity to play a leading role in a heritage garden of national significance.  Far more than just a job, this position is ideal for someone who has a passion for heritage and tourism, as well as a strong desire to care for and maintain these beautiful grounds, leading a group of volunteers in a community context. Applications close 22 April.  CLICK HERE for more details

Dianne Thomson & Volunteers Sml 04042016

Celebrating Buda’s Volunteers: Bronwyn

Buda Bronwyn Rudolph Feb2016 sml

In late 2015 Bronwyn Rudolph was elected the new President of Buda Historic Home & Garden Incorporated.  Like her predecessors it is a very hands on role sometimes requiring a quick transition from the kitchen to the podium at events. Bronwyn performs all these duties with grace and enthusiasm.  Recently we took the opportunity to get up close and personal with our new President and find out how and why she became involved.


As a relatively new arrival in Castlemaine, Bronwyn attended Buda’s 2012 Annual General Meeting and volunteered to join the Committee of Management.

When asked why she was attracted to volunteer at Buda, Bronwyn says that it was a combination of her many interests. A family connection, her professional expertise, and recognition of the asset that Buda is to the community all contributed to her decision.

“Hilda Leviny was a contemporary and friend of my mother’s aunt, Isabel Macnee, who wasn’t a local but I believe they may have met in Melbourne in the early 1900s when they were both young women. They also had mutual friends in Newstead.”

As a registered building practitioner with a degree in Interior Architecture, Bronwyn is loving learning more about the Buda house and its furnishings.

“I have a great interest in the built environment generally but especially in domestic architecture.”

One of her favourite moments relates to a tour of Buda in 2015 by the Victorian Branch of the Furniture History Society.

“Buda’s House Curator, Lauretta Zilles, took the group on a tour of the house with particular attention to the unique collection of furniture it contains. That was very interesting to many and I felt very pleased that Buda could offer such a special experience to the group.”

While electing to be photographed alongside one of her favourite Buda places, the bird aviary in the courtyard, Bronwyn’s other favourite place is the small bedroom.

Buda - Kates Bedroom Feb06 (1)“I love the view down the veranda, the colour of the walls, the hand painted frieze and the cosy feel with the little fireplace and unique built in cupboards. I just love to imagine it as my own room when I was a girl!”

When asked what her favourite item is in the house, Bronwyn has no hesitation in answering.  “The three fold draught screen because it has the embroidered panels by Hilda and it is in the Arts and Crafts style.”

Bronwyn believes that Buda is a tremendous asset to Castlemaine.

“I love being part of the passion of so many to make Buda a living and exiting place for everyone. The more that people know about it and take ownership of it richer we all will be.”

As President, Bronwyn’s dream is to continue the momentum of the last two years of planning to make Buda financially sustainable and part of the everyday life of the people of Castlemaine.

“There is a lot of enjoyment and reward available to anyone who wants to be part of it.”

By Kerry Anderson

CALL Buda on 03 5472-1032 if you would like to become one of our many volunteers or check out the website for an event that you can support.

Opportunity to help conserve Buda’s history

INTERESTED in helping out with an urgent conservation project?

AS a registered charity Buda Historic Home & Garden Inc. relies on the generosity of donors for ongoing conservation and maintenance all year round.  Currently we are seeking urgent donations towards the conservation of two important artifacts that belonged to colonial silversmith and jeweller, Ernest Leviny.

The first is an Album of Original Jewellery Designs by Ernest Leviny dating from the 1840s and early 1850s. It was most likely used by him in Paris between 1842-1846 and London 1846–1852.
Buda Album 1840s
The cost of conservation work to repair and stabilise the spine on the Album is $462.00.  This work will be undertaken by professional book conservators.

The urgency is because the Album has been requested for an exhibition loan in April 2016 at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (MADE) Ballarat.

Buda Souvenir Box 1840s

The other item is a small Souvenir Box, also dating from the 1840’s. Repairs to the spine are required to reduce further damage from occurring. The cost of conservation is $335.00.

All donations over $2 are tax deductible.

If you are interested in assisting us with this important conservation project
please call Lauretta (Buda Curator) or Clare (Office Manager) on Ph: 03 5472 1032

READ MORE about Ernest Leviny and Buda