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State Heritage protection pending for Martindale Hall weapons

A diverse assortment of 123 weapons collected by William Tennant Mortlock and his son John over many years, and still on display in the former family home – Martindale Hall - has been provisionally listed on the South Australian Heritage Register.

State Heritage protection pending for Martindale Hall weapons
The Mortlock Weapons Collection, on display in the Smoking Room at Martindale Hall, has been provisionally listed on the State Heritage Register.

The Mortlock Weapons Collection includes arrows, spears, boomerangs, woomeras, clubs, shields, knives, daggers, swords, firearms and a nineteenth century suit of Japanese Samurai armour.

The objects originate from many different countries and continents including Australian First Nations, Pacific Island Nations, Japan, India, South East Asia, Europe and the Middle East and were largely acquired by William Mortlock during his travels in Australia and overseas.

SA Heritage Council chair Keith Conlon said the provisional listing, and anticipated confirmation in December, of the collection on the SA Heritage Register is significant as it will protect and conserve the collection and its history into the future.

“This collection is one of many originally belonging to the Mortlock family – who were a prominent and noteworthy South Australian pastoral family, Mr Conlon said.

“The Council hopes in future to establish the provenance of the items, including those that may be linked to First Nation peoples.

“This will be an important step in the journey of reconciliation and also an opportunity to tell the full story of these items and give the original owners an opportunity to be reconnected with part of their culture.”

Martindale Hall is a significant nineteenth century property that was State heritage listed in 1980 and represents a ‘grand baronial’ lifestyle that no longer exists in South Australia. Home to both the Bowman and Mortlock families, the property contains more than 1,000 potentially significant items including furniture, furnishings, specialised collections and many other possessions.

Due to the number of items at Martindale Hall, it’s proposed that they will be grouped into 13 collections based on similar associations and intrinsic relationships to the State Heritage Place. These collections will be presented to the South Australian Heritage Council, over a number of meetings, for consideration for listing as State Heritage Objects.