History of Lakeside Manor
Who built it? English immigrant labourer Sir George Danby. Sir George was the youngest son of the Reverend Sir Robert Affleck Baronet of Dulham Hall, Suffolk, with a family tree branching back to John O'Groats. A baronetcy came to him through the prior decease of his brothers; through his mother he inherited the Danby Estate. It was reported that upon hearing his good news, his response was "I shalt never need to work again boys."
Before George inherited his estate, he was a labourer washing wool in Lake Fellmongery and living in a little shack. He had five children John, Robert, Mary, Loisa and Harriet. Sir Edward Osborne, Baronet of Kiveton, Yorkshire, had succeeded to the baronetcy and estates in 1647, in 1673 he was created Earl of Danby.
This Danby earldom became extinct due to the failure of the direct male line of descent - hence George Affleck had to take the name of Danby to inherit his family estate but could not inherit the title. He became known as Sir George Affleck Danby; but this too, lapsed by his failure to register his "arms" and pedigree at the Hearld's Collage.
After inheriting his fortune and prior to building and prior to building Lakeside, Sir George returned to England for two years, but he longed for sunny South Australia with its free and easy ways. So, he charted an English sailing ship and with his team of skilled craftsmen (builders and French polishers), English Oak beams, selected Italian marble fireplaces Indian teak, art collectables, fine cedar furnishings and a pocket full of cash, he sailed to Robe, bought the land he used to work on and established his Mansion.
The building was based on a plan of one of the Affleck mansions in England and was originally intended to have a second floor as evidence by the timbers in the ceiling - massive 7" by 3" imported timbers. In the ceilings, also, still intake, are the lengths of copper tubing, the whole building having been lit by a carbide-gas system.
When was it built? Lakeside Manor was built between the years 1880-84.
What is it built of? Local limestone which was quarried from the Woakwine Range and transported to Robe by bullock wagon then cut on site. The skirting boards and doors are Blackwood and Cedar. The floor is Baltic pine. Many rooms have bay windows so the house has an abundance of natural light. Some of the fixtures and fittings were brought out from Europe and Britain.
There are eight Italian marble fireplaces - some are of vertical black and white markings, one is pure Carrara marble, several are brown, and there is one unique pink - a small one in what was the governess' suite. (Room 7)
Why this design? The designer must have been well aware of the advantages of natural lighting and the lovely surroundings, for window-space is generous in all rooms. The main rooms have bay windows each 12 feet high and 9 feet wide, in the Gallery there are two windows. All have solid brass fittings, craftsman-produced. The central ceilings fixtures, of which there are eight, are of pressed brass, finished with gold leaf. Sit George Danby built Lakeside Manor as a replica of the west wind of one of the Affleck mansions in provincial England, Suffolk. It was originally planned to have a second floor.
How big is it? The entire floor space covers 72 squares. The hallway, which traverses the entire length of the house, is 40 meters long OR 2 cricket pitches long, and 10 foot wide - a car could easily be driven down it! The house has 17 main rooms. The largest room is 30 feet by 20 feet, with several others of almost the same size. Ceilings are 12 feet and 15 feet throughout, depending on the proportions of the rooms. Floors are up to one-and-a-quarter inches thick, of Baltic pine, and all nails are of hand-made copper.
What is the best interior feature? Besides the majestic hallway and large ballroom, it has to be the grand library containing a bookcase measuring 18 feet by 12 feet high, made of Blackwood and mahogany, with green leather strips (dust protectors) embossed with gold leaf. The bookcase dominates the room which has an outlook over Lake Fellmongery.
What about the garden? The grounds were planted in the early days with pines, cypresses, Moreton Bay figs and sheoaks, all of which are now most impressive. They combine well with the natural tea tree that surrounds the lake. The west side of Lakeside features a Rose Garden and orchard and there are also Grape Vines.
What other uses has it had over its life? Sir George dies in 1891. For several more decades, this fine home was occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Moule (a daughter of Mr. Danby) whose niece, Miss Grace Goddard, lived with her - later to marry Mt. T.F. Stuckey of Millicent, whose son was christened "Danby". The name of "Goddard" and "Stuckey" is widely associated with the development of the South East with a branching of agricultural and horticultural interests of distinction.
After the death of Mrs. Moule in 1920, the home passed out of the family into the hands of Mr. Andrew Robson who was chairman of the Lucindale and Robe Councils. One of he Robson family members is still living at Robe, Mrs. A.M. Jamieson remembers Lakeside as the centre for New Year Balls held annually for many years. As the South East was settle by many Scots the celebration of New Year was held more highly that Christmas Eve. Open house was held at Lakeside for over 200 guests who arrived at midnight for New Year festivities for many a year.
The Affleck family was noted for its many courtesies extended to people in every walk of life. Lakeside contributed much to the social life of the day with its ballroom, reception halls, great library and many guest rooms.
The house was sold 20 years later after George Danby died. Over the years it's been used as a guest house, restaurant, bed & breakfast and it has been used for many functions - as wedding receptions - before becoming a hostel.
Ancestral Land: All the land between Lake Fellmongery and Chara belonged to Sir George Danby. The office of the Caravan Park was the old stables for the house. The Stables (which cost at least £500, a considerable sum in the 1880's) have four stalls, still complete with feed-boxes. Each stall is enclosed by hand-cut pickets of teak and Oregon. The floors are of hardwood stumps, round in contour, one of the most intriguing floors, well worthy not only of a close inspection but of study. A groom's room and a carriage space are at the back of the stables. The stairway from outside is a gangway (from an old and unidentified wreck); and upstairs is a huge loft. The entrance to the stables is a bricked archway, expertly constructed.
It is of interest that in the "South Australia Government gazette" as recently as 2nd January 1967 there appeared a Road Notice of a transfer of land for road purposes from the trustees of "Lakeside" to the District Council of Robe - 80 years after this land was used as a bush track by the courtesy of the Affleck family when the rest of the area became fenced. For nearly 40 years before that it had been the bush track used by John Calder who, riding wearily along one day, was stirred to action by a single sentence from a letter written by Captain Charles Sturt when the settlers had asked for Government support for a jetty. "Why do not the settlers help themselves?" he spurred his horse. "Why do not the settlers help themselves? Why, indeed?" - and he spurred his horse again as he gallops into the township and used words so caustic that "something" happened. Estimates were called for the first Government jetty at Guichen Bay.
On the hillside camped the last of the Buanditjs to live in this area. Their native cemetery, used until the late 80's of last century, ;ay slightly to the south-east protected by a stone wall, a portion of which is still standing.
The Buanditjs always buried their dead near water and older residents can still remember the early morning vigil of "Old Tommy' silhouetted against the sky-line as, with his right hand up-raised he gazed silently towards their native cemetery from his hillside camp among the wild current bushes. "And his eyes I dimly trace the memory of a vanished race."
Nearby is the little white Lake Chara of geological interest. Scientists claim that the depths of Chara here can be measured in chains, not feet. Certain it is that in the summers of 50 years ago the white circular surface was an ideal spot for the bicycle races where the ladies rode their gaily decorated bicycles with more than a little skill. Indeed, the admiring spectators were not always sure weather it was the bicycles of the ladies, who were the most attractively presented. An occasional clay pipe once used by Lakeside's vanished aboriginals, or a Chinese coin lost by a pigtailed Chinese traveling with large companies of Chinese for the Victorian gold diggings can still be occasionally picked up on Lakeside.