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Lindfield’s Links To The Land Down Under

This month, on January 26, millions of Australians worldwide will be celebrating Australia Day – the commemoration of the First Fleet’s arrival from England in 1788 at Port Jackson, Sydney. To mark the 230th anniversary, RH History Uncovered looks at Lindfield’s links with a land Down Under.

Sir Rupert Turner Havelock Clarke, a former owner of Old Place in Lindfield, lived an eventful life, he worked as a farmer, politician, governor of the Colonial Bank of Australia and owned a successful race horse. Born at Rupertswood, Sunbury, in Australia, Sir Rupert was the eldest son of Sir William John Clarke, and his first wife Mary and the first holder of one of the few baronetcies in Australia.

Educated at Hawthorn Grammar School, Wesley College, Melbourne, and Magdalen College in Oxford, but took no degree, 1891, aged just 21 he leased his father’s Cobran station near Deniliquin. The small town of Deniliquin resonated with Sussex man and history-lover Jeff Herbert who discovered a man buried in Walstead Cemetery had a connection to the town in New South Wales.

Jeff had spent four years living and farming in Deniliquin during the 1960s, he was part of the Big Brother Movement programme which gave British residents the opportunity to live and work in Australia and its founding idea was to bring a ‘better class of boy’ to the Land Down Under – Jeff was an adventurous 18 year-old when he signed up to the programme and a farming career in Australia.

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Other Ties That Bind Sussex To Australia

Former star of Australian TV show Neighbours, Mark Little, lives in Hove, he found fame starring as Joe Mangle for three years between 1988 and 1991

Sussex County was one of the 26 counties of Western Australia designated in 1829, the Lieutenant-Governor named the county in honour of Prince Augustus Frederick

Goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, Brighton and Hove Albion’s number one, was born in a town in North South Wales called Plumpton, named after the village just outside of Lewes


Jeff said: “Deniliquin is like my second home and when I found Clarke’s connection with it I thought it could be good for Deniliquin. Clarke’s father is credited with inviting the English cricket team to his Melbourne property to play the Australians, which is believed to have been the first Ashes Test.”

As well as a cricketing legacy, the Clarke family leave a legacy in commerce – Sir Rupert carried on his father’s stud, breeding sheep and cattle, and he soon became one of the pioneer gold miners of Coolgardie. Following Sir William’s death in 1897, Sir Rupert took on the baronetcy, membership of the Legislative Council of Victoria and the chiefly role of governor of the Colonial Bank of Australia.

His horse breeding saw him scoop the Victoria Derby, Oaks and Caulfield Cup, although, he was never to achieve victory in Australia’s premier race – the Melbourne Cup. As well as land in Australia, Sir Rupert owned homes in Sydney, two in England, of which one was Old Place, and a villa in Monte Carlo, where Sir Rupert passed away on Christmas Day 1926.

By Jacob white

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