Glanville Hall was built in 1856 as a lavish family home for Captain John Hart, a retired mariner, cattle merchant, significant land owner, keen politician and South Australia’s first Premier.
Named after Captain Hart’s mother Mary Glanville, the manor was constructed from stone transported almost 200km from Port Vincent on SA’s Yorke Peninsula. An excellent example of Victorian Tudor style architecture, the homestead originally consisted of 14 main rooms, a coach house, a gate keeper's lodge and extensive grounds and stables. The servants' quarters were tucked into a second story within the roof space, and a billiard room and elegant tower were added during extensions in 1865.
Today the architectural features of Glanville Hall give a fascinating glimpse into life in colonial South Australia. It is a gracious home and a fine example of English design adapted to our warm and dry Australian climate.
Captain Hart died suddenly at Glanville Hall in 1873, and his family remained in the homestead until it was sold to Magnus Wald - a well-known South Australian yachting identity – in 1912. The manor continued to serve as a family home for a succession of owners over the next twenty years.
St Francis House
In 1946, Father Percy Smith purchased Glanville Hall on behalf of the Anglican Church to provide accommodation for young Aboriginal boys from remote areas who were attending school in the local area.
In a time when it was commonly believed that Aboriginal children were unable to be educated beyond Grade 3, Father Smith saw the home as a way of providing a family environment for the children to pursue a higher level of education without losing their Aboriginal identity. Father Smith described the hostel as “not one of fostering, but rather a boarding establishment to which boys came with their mothers' consent for the school year and in that respect it was no different from children being sent by their parents to a boarding school".
The manor became known as St Francis House: A Home for Inland Children and over the next 14 years, more than 50 children found at home at St Francis on their way to greatness. Former residents include Dr Charles Perkins AO, Dr Gordon Briscoe AO, Dr John Moriarty AM, Mr Les Nayda AM, and Mr Bill Espie (Queens Medal for Bravery). Some notable sporting identities including Vincent Copley, Richie Bray and Ken Hampton went on to play football for Port Adelaide, while Wally McArthur became an accomplished track and field athlete. Many other residents went on to lead successful and fulfilled lives.
Around 16 years later, in 1960, Port Adelaide council purchased the property and reverted the manor to its original name. It has since been used as a community meeting hall and hire venue until today, where new management has seen it re-launched to South Australia as one of the state's finest heritage fucntion and event venues.