Old Sheffield Plate teapot c.1835, Local History Melbourne Show trophy 1929 for Golf Hill Hereford bulls


Old Sheffield Plate teapot with gadrooned half body and gadroon & leaf border, circa 1835. Re-purposed in 1929 as a cattle Trophy Prize for the Royal Melbourne Show, inscribed as follows

THE FRANK REYNOLDS MEMORIAL TROPHY / presented by AUSTRALIAN HEREFORD SOCIETY / best pair of yearling Bulls, MELBOURNE ROYAL SHOW 1929 / won by Mrs J BIDDLECOMBE / Golf Hill Royal Standard, Golf Hill Royal Sceptre.


Mrs Janet Biddlecombe (1867-1954) was the daughter of George Russell, the well known settler who was one of the earliest in Victoria, claiming his ‘squat’ at Shelford (just north of Geelong) in 1836 and naming it ‘Golf Hill’. She was a private person who refused to let her gifts to charity be published – but was clearly a great patron of many things. She donated the contents of the historic ‘Golf Hill’ to the National Gallery of Victoria, and also to the Geelong Art Gallery. (An auction to clear the remainder was held in 1955, attended by a very young John Rosenberg!)          

Janet Biddlecombe was the youngest daughter of eight children, and when the property passed to a brother who proved incapable of maintaining it, she was able to assume control. She married several years later, to an English born Navy officer; they had no children. After his death in 1929, she continued to run the station, and attained the highest standards. At the Royal Melbourne Show & the Royal Easter Show, Sydney, she consistently won every prize in her division – including this lovely teapot, repurposed from a 100 year old English piece for the purpose. The Sydney Show report for April 1929 records ‘Frank Reynolds Memorial Trophy for the Best Pair of Bull Calves Not Exceeding 12 Months Old on March 1. 1929 – Mrs J. Biddlecombe.’ – but no mention is made of their names. The Weekly Times for 28th September 1929 records the event for which this prize was given, and names them as ‘Royal Standard’ and ‘Royal Sceptre’ – surely the same pair that won the Sydney Show? £15 15/ was also part of the prize from the Hereford Society, and the two cows mentioned on this prize – Royal Standard and Royal Sceptre – would have been calves.

Interestingly, the teapot was made in England at about the same time her father came to Port Phillip as one of the first settlers….


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