Text: Chris Chardon
Images: MLDHS, Trove
In the late 1800s and early to mid 1900s there were several guest houses in the Stirling district. Some of the names included Summerlea, The Shay, Lyndhurst, Burwood, The Rest, Clairmont, Spottiswoode and Felix House. Interestingly all newspaper advertisements touting trade showed the address as “Mount Lofty”.
Where the rear car park of Woolworth’s supermarket is now located, stood the guest house, Felix House.
In 1884 John Horwood Fewster bought the land on which the guest house stood. It is believed that Fewster built Felix House in the 1890’s. Fewsters were involved in the horse coaching business of Hill & Co. in the late 1800s and early 1900s. That company operated stables where the supermarket and shops now stand – i.e. the guest house and stables operated complementary businesses.
Why the guest house was named Felix is still yet to be learnt but it is known that Fewsters owned a property in Glenelg which was also named Felix. Felix is a male given name that stems from Latin and means “happy” or “lucky” – perhaps that was the culture that the proprietors were promoting?
In 1882 John’s sister- in law, Mary Ann Fewster (nee Langley) and the wife of William Fewster, purchased allotments 7, 8 and 9 of the sub-division named Stirling West. Mary had taken out several mortgages over the land and subsequently sold several pieces of her acquisition. It seems that John purchased a portion3 of Mary’s land on which Felix House was constructed. In December 1900 Mary re-acquired that portion and presumably the guest house. Mary, for some years was the proprietress.
The premises and grounds became a social centre for locals and guests. A tennis club was formed:-
“LAWN TENNIS. Felix House v. Hahndorf, played at Felix House Courts-.—Former won by 19 games, the scores being 5I to 32. The winning club was only recently formed, and the victory was creditable one. Mrs. Fewster entertained both clubs in the evening at a dance and euchre party.”4
In February 1905 a cricket match was played:-
“On Wednesday last the boarders and visitors at Felix House, Stirling West, spent an exciting afternoon at cricket. A fancy dress match was arranged ladies v. gentlemen, the latter to bowl and bat left hand. Prizes were given for the best costume and the best batting- and bowling averages on each side. Nurse Ayling captained the ladies, and lost the toss to Mr. Hooper, who sent the ladies to the wickets.”5
Mary retained ownership of Felix House until her passing.
Over the years there have been several lessees. In December 1909 a Mr. Leopold took over.
That venture did not prosper as the following advertisement appeared in newspapers in September 1910:-
“Mrs. Fewster and Miss Proctor beg to announce to their numerous friends and patrons that they have again taken over the management of the above healthy resort, and will have pleasure in supplying full particulars,- either by post or telephone, 82, Stirling. Ten minutes from Station. Trains met by arrangement Terms moderate.”7
In March 1913 Mr. Charles Giltrap took over the lease and in April 1914 the Misses McAuliffe’s were managing the guest house. In February 1919 Annie Jane Rowan took out a lease on the property:-
On 20th April 1921, Frank Chardon, of Macclesfield, storekeeper, took over the lease9 of the guest house and thus the Chardons began a mutually beneficial association with Stirling that still exists today. In December 1922 Mrs Chardon advertised:
In January 1923, Frank and Edith Chardon’s only child, eight year old Keith, drowned in a lily pond on Stonehenge Avenue. Also in 1923 they left Felix House and became proprietors of tea rooms on the eastern side of the Mount Barker Road in Stirling. The 82 phone number moved with them.
In 1923 D. P. Bishop took over the sub-lease – ‘Phone Stirling 273 and in December 1930 Mrs. Revill, late of Spottiswoode took over.
It seems that although the Chardons had moved to the tearooms they had retained the lease on Felix House. Two newspaper advertisements in July 1936 advertised the sale of the boarding house business:-
“GOOD business proposition, Felix House, Stirling West. 20 rooms, freshly renovated. All particulars from F. Chardon. Telephone Stirling 82.”11
“Golden opportunity. First-class guest home in the hills, ‘Felix House’ Stirling West, 20 rooms, recently renovated, large spacious. Grounds, .tennis court, moderate rent. Apply F. Chardon, phone Stirling 82.”12
Mary Fewster died in 1938. In March 1939 Felix House was placed on the market:-
Many of the manual exchange (behind where the current post office lies) telephonists boarded at Felix House. In its last few years the building was converted into flats. The building was demolished in the 1980s to extend the rear car park of the then Foodland retail outlet. Originally access to Felix House was from Martha Street.
It is interesting to note that Mary was quite active in land purchases around, and with the business of, Felix House but William seemed to have little if any input – he continued to drive the horse drawn transport and was held in high regard as was evidenced by the following news story:-
“ECHUNGA, August 29.— A social was given in the institute hall on Friday evening in honour of Mr. William Fewster. There was a large attendance, Mr. Fewster is a veteran in the employment of Messrs John Hill & Co. He saw service under Mr. .John Hill’s father, and has been driving for more than 40 years during 17 of which he has had charge of the Echunga coach. By uniform courtesy and a general willingness to oblige Mr. Fewster has gained the respect and good wishes of all upon his line of road, and this good feeling took practical form on Friday night, when a gold watch, suitably inscribed, was presented to this trusted and trustworthy old public servant”14
On 3rd May 1915 Mary’s husband, William, died suddenly at his residence, Felix House, Glenelg, in his 75th year. He was interred at the Stirling East Cemetery. Mary died on 22nd December 1938. Her death was announced in the following day’s press:-
“Death of Old Mount Lofty Identity. Mrs. Mary Ann Fewster, one of Mount Lofty’s oldest identities, died yesterday at the age of 86 years. She was buried at Stirling Cemetery this afternoon.”15 It appears that Mary was not interred with her husband.
- History of Stirling West – South Australia 1956 by A. Mountford MLDHS Reg. No. 293
- Deposit Plan 1069 and Certificate of Title 391/139
- Certificate of Title 550/89
- Evening Journal, Adelaide, Monday 5 December 1904
- Observer, Adelaide, Saturday 4 February 1905
- The Express and Telegraph, Adelaide, Friday 31 December 1909
- The Advertiser Saturday 24 September 1910
- The Mail, Adelaide, Saturday 24 May 1919
- Memorandum of Lease 758445
- The Advertiser, Adelaide, Wednesday 27 December 1922
- News, Adelaide, Tuesday 21 July 1936
- The Advertiser, Adelaide, Saturday 25 July 1936
- The Mail, Adelaide, Saturday 11 March 1939
- The Register, Adelaide, Wednesday 31 August 1904
- News, Adelaide, Friday 23 December 1938
Do you have memories of this building, it’s many owners or did you stay at the guest house? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop into the History Centre at the Coventry Library, 63 Mount Barker Road, Stirling.