John Kelly's Former House at Beveridge, c.1860, a substantially intact example of vernacular timber construction.
As a child, Ned Kelly (1854-1880) one of Australia's most infamous bushrangers, lived in John Kelly's Former House which was built by his father John 'Red' Kelly in 1860. John Kelly was born in Tipperary, Ireland in 1820 and transported to Australia in 1841. Once a free man, he moved near Wallan Wallan in 1849 and in 1850 married Ellen Quinn and bought a forty one acre farm at Beveridge in 1854 which he later sold. In 1859 John Kelly purchased a smaller 21 acre (8.5ha) property and in 1860 the dwelling known as the John Kelly House was constructed using materials he could obtain from the bush, including local bluestone for the chimney. The Kelly family, including Ned, resided in the Beveridge house until 1864 when the family moved to Avenel.
John Kelly's Former House c.1860 is a vernacular timber cottage with a corrugated iron roof. It was originally a three room cottage but has had additions most likely during the second half of the nineteenth century. It now has eleven rooms. There is a well on site, water tank, early fence posts and two trees, one on the eastern and one on the western boundaries of the property. The plan form of the original section of the house appears to relate to Irish cottage traditions. The construction and detailing of the roof, including the use of bush poles, shingles, transverse split timber boards, gutter details and the absence of eaves are not known elsewhere in Victoria. There is a bluestone chimney with brick-lined sides and a brick paved verandah structure of chamfered posts, a low pitch roof with machine sawn rafters. Internally the house has a main room and a second room opening off it. The main room is entered by a door in the western wall which has a Carpenter Patent Lock. There is a former cupboard to the left of the fireplace, an adzed timber post on the north eastern side corner of the room, a former window and a 0.91mx0.61m (3ftx2ft) sash window in the eastern wall. There is a plywood and strapwork dado. The second room opening from the main room appears to have been originally divided in two. It is of exposed split 30.5cm (12inch) timber. This second room has a cupboard and a 0.91mx0.61m (3ftx2ft) sash window in the western wall. A former door opening from the main room into what was the third room is visible inside the cupboard. The eastern wall of the house collapsed prior to 1992 but has been made good. The original house has been extended across its southern side and a door has been set at the south end of the verandah which runs along the eastern external wall of the original house. This door leads to a hall way with six rooms opening off it. The extensions are of split paling weatherboard and include three brick fireplaces. On the western side of the house a brick paved laundry with former fireplace and copper and a bathroom have been built off the west end of the former verandah that was located along the eastern, southern and western side of the extensions. There is evidence that two other rooms were formed by enclosing sections of the verandah. The house was originally surrounded by a fence.
This site is part of the traditional land of the Wurundjeri people.
How is it significant?
John Kelly's Former House is of archaeological, architectural and historical significance to the State of Victoria. It satisfies the following criterion for inclusion in the Victorian Heritage Register:
Importance to the course, or pattern, of Victoria's cultural history.
Possession of uncommon, rare or endangered aspects of Victoria's cultural history.
Potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of Victoria's cultural history.
Special association with the life or works of a person, or group of persons, of importance in Victoria's history.
Why is it significant?
John Kelly's Former House is significant at the State level for the following reasons:
John Kelly's Former House is historically significant because of its association with Ned Kelly, one of Australia's most infamous bushrangers, and the notorious and influential series of events in Victoria's history known as the 'Kelly outbreak' of the 1870s. After Ned Kelly's death in 1880 a Royal Commission investigated the Victorian Police Force focusing public attention on the tensions between Irish Catholic selectors and English protestant squatters and the issue of police harassment. The Commission led to many changes in law enforcement and policing in Victoria. Since that time the 'Kelly Legend' has become a polarising narrative in Australian history, with some claiming Kelly as a hero and others remaining critical of his use of violence to achieve his goals. The Kelly Legend is aligned with a particular strand of Australian nationalism which celebrates rugged individualism, anti-authoritarianism and the rural environment. [Criteria A & H]
John Kelly's Former House is architecturally significant as a rare example of vernacular timber cottage construction based on Irish principles. The plan form of the original section of the house is uncommon in Victoria and relates to Irish cottage traditions. The construction and detailing of the roof, including the use of bush poles, shingles, transverse split timber boards, gutter details and the absence of eaves are not known elsewhere in Victoria. [Criteria B]
John Kelly's Former House is archaeologically significant for its potential to contain archaeological artefacts and deposits which may provide significant information about the construction and use of the place by Irish settlers in mid-nineteenth century Victoria. The site has the potential to contain artefacts and deposits that relate to Ned Kelly's early family life. [Criterion C]
John Kelly's Former House is also significant for the following reasons, but not at the State level:
John Kelly's Former House is significant for it association with Irish Catholic selectors who settled in mid-north of Victoria during the mid-nineteenth century and the Kelly family.