Stanley Hall at Clayfield: Tragedies and Triumphs in a Grand Old Home

Stanley Hall at Clayfield

Did you know that the first two owners of Stanley Hall in Clayfied had untimely deaths in the family at the estate, until one succeeding owner brought his Melbourne Cup-winning luck to the place and broke the morbid streak, even entertaining the then Prince of Wales (eventually King Edward VIII) as a guest in the stately home?

Read: St Rita’s College Clayfield: Where and How It All Began

Before it became part of St Rita’s College, Stanley Hall was home to various distinguished persons in Clayfield. Learn about how it went from a home with an unlucky reputation, to the home of a wealthy industrialist at the top of Clayfield’s social set, to becoming the heart of St Rita’s College today.

Original Owners

The grand Queenslander was built in 1886 for produce dealer John William Forth, who had purchased the property the prior year. 

However, tragedy struck the Forth family soon after. In 1886, their 20-year-old daughter Clara passed away. Later that same year, John Forth was killed in a tragic accident on the estate. Whilst helping transplant trees, one of the trees fell on him.

Interior of Stanley Hall at Clayfield, date unknown (Photo credit: State Library of Queensland)

After John’s untimely death, the grieving Forth family moved back to their Wickham Terrace home in 1887. They leased Stanley Hall to stockbroker John Wilson as the grand estate held too many sad memories.

Succeeding Occupants

External view of Stanley Hall, date unknown (Photo credit: State Library of Queensland)

In August 1888, the estate was sold by Mrs Selina Forth to subsequent landholder Herbert Hunter, a Western Queensland pastoralist and horse racing aficionado.

He purchased Stanley Hall for its convenient location near Eagle Farm racetrack, using the grand home as his Brisbane residence.

In 1890, a second storey was added to the Queenslander by architect George Henry Male Addison. A timber coach house and stables were also erected to accommodate the extended Hunter family – Mr and Mrs Hunter, their five sons, and three daughters.

In 1901, Mrs Hunter unexpectedly passed away from heart failure. A few years later in 1905, their eldest son William Miles Hunter died at age 38 from heat apoplexy.

Drawing room at Stanley Hall during E. G. Blume’s occupancy, ca 1910

By 1910, Mr Hunter finally sold the estate to wealthy pastoralist Edward Goddard Blume, who was known for owning a string of stations, principally sheep, throughout Queensland and New South Wales.

Edward Goddard Blume at a ball for the Prince of Wales in Brisbane, 1920 (Photo credit: State Library of Queensland)

Like Mr Hunter, Mr Blume had won many Melbourne Cups and Caulfield Cups. Mr Blume purchased the neighbouring property as well, expanding the grand estate to 12.5 acres.

Stanley Hall at Clayfield
HRH Prince of Wales on “Ladomond” in Ascot Racecourse, 1920 (Photo credit: Queensland State Archives)

Mr Blume, well known in Queensland social circles, entertained the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) at Stanley Hall during the royal’s visit to Brisbane in July 1920.

Part of St Rita’s College

In the early 1920s, Mr Blume subdivided and sold off most of the grand estate, retaining just 4.5 acres containing the main house. In 1926, this remainder was purchased by the Sisters of the Presentation in Queensland for £22,000.

The Presentation Sisters operated a convent and primary school on adjacent land. They converted Stanley Hall into a boarding and secondary school for girls, now the St Rita’s College, which opened in September 1926.

Stanley Hall at Clayfield

Over the years, the school expanded with new buildings to accommodate growing enrollment. The first new structure was erected in 1939, and in 1968 the old kitchen and service wing was demolished for a new classroom block. 

Read: From 1932 to 2003: The Rise and Fall of Turrawan Private Hospital

St Rita’s College has built an impressive legacy since its founding in 1926. Once a private haven for Brisbane’s elite, it is now an esteemed educational institution shaping Queensland’s future female leaders. 

Stanley Hall stands as a testament to the school’s proud history and heritage. For over a century, its graceful architecture has sheltered the dreams and accomplishments of thousands of students.

Published 4-October-2023