Last Wednesday I went on a group tour of Parliament House in Melbourne. This magnificent building is a wonderful example of high-Victorian public architecture.

The double-storey Parliamentary Library, with its gas lights, curving staircases and central ten-sided table is particularly impressive.

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Hanging in what is known as Queen’s Hall is a portrait of Sir Harry Lawson (1875 – 1952), politician and Premier of Victoria from 1918-1924. Lawson was a first cousin of my great grandmother Beatrix de Crespigny nee Hughes. The portrait, painted in 1981, is a copy of a 1923 portrait by John Longstaff.

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Sir Harry Lawson, portrait by John Perry 1981. This copy of ‘Portrait of Sir Harry Lawson’ 1923 by John Longstaff (original held at Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum) was presented to the Parliament of Victoria by the Lawson Family and the Perpetual Executors and Trustees Association of Australia Ltd in 1981.

 

Also on display is crockery from the Parliament House collection, with it a program for a dinner given to Harry Lawson by the Government of Victoria on 20 December 1922, shortly before Lawson’s departure for an official trip to Europe.

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The Age, reporting the dinner, called the date ‘Mr Lawson’s lucky day’. 20 December coincided with the 23rd anniversary of Lawson’s selection to Parliament, and he had been offered his first position in Cabinet on 20 December 1913). Lawson served as Premier from 1918 to 1924.

Our group also visited the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne’s war memorial, in St Kilda Road. Lawson was a trustee of the Shrine of Remembrance. It was commissioned while he was Premier.

Shrine opening 1934

Report of the opening of the Shrine on 11 November 1934: VICTORIA’S GREAT SHRINE OF REMEMBRANCE. (1934, November 12). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), p. 13. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article205078251

 

Further reading