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Surrey Gardens and the Shrine

Surrey Gardens and the Shrine

The gardens date back to 1903 when the Shire of Boroondara purchased the land from Charles Long. Famed landscaper William Guilfoyle was consulted over their design, which was prepared by a Mr Permewan. In February of 1903, a committee of management was appointed at a meeting for the ‘reserve recently acquired by the Boroondara Council’. The meeting agreed upon the name ‘Surrey Gardens’. The local newspaper reported that it was hoped that ‘the residents will throw themselves into this work with enthusiasm and make Surrey Gardens a place of beauty and joy for ever’. They apparently did so and in August, it was reported that subscriptions had been received from residents ‘towards the expenses in connection with the laying of the gardens’. Local residents were invited to assist in planting trees in the new reserve with the Surrey Hills District Band asked to provide entertainment during the tree planting, as an incentive to residents to attend the arbor day.


Over many years members of the SHPA were involved with varied activities associated with the gardens. These included tree planting, the procurement of the two canons which are now positioned either side of The Shrine, organisation of biograph displays and concerts as fundraisers in aid of building a rotunda, and much later (c1930) the fundraising and building of a Baby Health Centre. However their work in building The Shrine is probably their most significant achievement.


The idea for the memorial was mooted in 1917 and is credited to Mrs C H D Steele, President of the local Patriotic League; it was also she who suggested approaching John Kendrick Blogg to carve the Honour Roll.  Both he and the architectural firm Gawler and Drummond provided their services without charge and the SHPA assumed the role of coordinating necessary fund raising. The dedication of the memorial occurred prior to the cessation of hostilities. 


The Shrine is a small reinforced concrete war memorial sited to the east edge of the Surrey Gardens with a stone base and pyramid roof form clad in terracotta tiles. It houses a carved timber Honour Roll and the words ‘THE SHRINE’ above the entry.


Inside, the floor is paved in terracotta tiles and the carved polished timber honour board is encased in a brass and glazed casing crowned by a boomerang motif above the Australian Army insignia. The names of those associated with the local community who served during World War One are inscribed on bronze plaques surrounded by intricate carvings of gum leaves and wattle.

Canons (1843, relocated 1919)

Two c. 1843 canons diagonally flank the ‘Shrine’ at the eastern edge of the site. They were relocated from the Canterbury Sports Ground in 1919.


A series of memorials are positioned on an east-west axis, to the west of the ‘Shrine.’ These include a remembrance memorial plaque and granite pillar erected in c.1921; a bluestone drinking fountain in memorial to Arthur Brookes Empire Day (1930); and stone cairn and sun dial in honour of the service of Councillor Albert Ernest Vine (1930s).

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