A Miss Cornwall commissioned arcitects, Tappin Gilbert and Dennehy to design a row of three, four-storeyed houses in the year 1886 situated in Hotham Street, East Melbourne. The International Exhibition of 1888 was imminent and a proposal was put to convert these houses into one large coffee palace, as Queen Bess was situated close to the Exhibition Buildings. This did not eventuate and the last evidence of it was removed in 1896 when the openings in the party walls were blocked.
Queen Bess is a spectacular and early example of the Elizabethian Revival style in Melbourne's domestic architecture. The three houses appear to be one large mansion with a central flemish-influenced gable and two minor pediments over the flanking wings. Prominent chimneys, dormers, arcaded and grouped windows, steeply pitched roofs, red brick walls and a successful contrast of mass and void.
The interior is intact (as is the exterior) and is of a predominently Jacobean character with leaded lights. mantels end panelling; the stairscase being particularly notable.