The old Parnell's Inn

The Old Parnell's Inn at Mickleham

My thanks to Cheryl Reid and Marion Hill who are both descendants of the Parnell & Harman Family, for the family information and photos on this page.

The Inn

The old Parnell's Inn still stands today on the eastern side of the road, a short distant from the corner of Mickleham and Mt. Ridley Roads. Today the old inn building is a private residence and looks somewhat different with the canvas blinds covering the windows and the large row of pines trees in front obscuring it from view.

A Parish of Mickleham Plan of original crown land purchasers tells that E. Wright owned Section 11a, the land the building stood on originally in 1852.  George Parnell bought the land off Wright later that year.  By 1856 the Electoral Roll states George is a blacksmith and an owner of a house and 200 acres of land at Mickleham.

It is not known whether the early building referred to as 'the bluestone cottage' was the same dwelling as the inn.  In 1861 a tender was put out for the erection of a shop and dwelling at Mickleham for G. Parnell which suggests this may have been the later erection of the inn and a more suitable premises for a hotel.

The Argus, Saturday 29th June 1861

Tenders will received till July 5th for  MASONS and BRICK WORK, labour only, for shop and dwelling at Mickleham, for Mr. G. Parnell.  Plans and specifications to be seen at the office of Geo H. Cox, 41 Swanston Street. The lowest or any tender not necessarily accepted.

The Broadmeadows Rate Books in 1863 show that the hotel was now up and running. The 1860s were a busy time along the Old Sydney Road, used as a route for heavy bullocks, horse wagons and all kinds of stock drovers and the hotel was well situated to take advantage of the passing trade.  The Victorian Gazetteer of 1865 describes Mickleham as a hamlet of 50 dwellings, including two hotels the Parnell's and the Mickleham. There was a coach to Melbourne twice daily and the Parnell's Inn was used a staging post.

From 1864 to 1869 George Parnell runs the hotel by himself and The Cole Index tells us he was issued a 'beer license' in 1869 which would have been very restrictive.  It meant he could only serve beer and could not sell wine and spirituous liquors.  An infringement would have been punishable by a fine and resulted in forfeiture of his license. 1869 was the last year of the hotel's licensing as there was no further licenses issued to George Parnell or anyone else at the inn and from then on seems to have reverted to farm use with the property being described as 'a house with 154 acres of land attached'.

George Parnell died in 1876 aged 57 years leaving a will.  George left the dwelling house to Thirza his wife which then consisted of 'a stone house with a slate roof containing 7 rooms' occupied by Thirza Parnell and the two sons Arthur Samuel and Robert Harman.

An extra three rooms seem to have been added to the 'stone house' between George's death and when Thirza died in 1878 as the stone building was then described as 10 rooms used at a hotel but was unlicensed for at least the last ten years and confirms the hotels last year of licensing as 1869.

Arthur ran the property after his mother's death in 1878 and the Broadmeadows Rate Books again show this with him being noted as 'farmer' at the property at Mickleham from then on.

Mickleham's post office opened in 1902, occupying the house built for George Parnell and his family. In 1902 the building was then used as a post office, when Arthur Samuel Harman successfully tendered for the position as postmaster.  A postmasters income was then derived from the percentage of business through the post office at the time.

Arthur Samuel Harman ran the post office at Mickleham in the old Parnell's Inn building till his death in 1932 when his wife Sarah Jane Harman (nee Pither) took over the position at the Post Office and ran it till 1934.

Parnell's Inn and Mickleham Post Office dated 1967 picture courtesy of the N.A.A)

The office was closed in the September of 1967 and for a number of years after this the building lay unoccupied and open to vandals who smashed windows and caused much interior damage to the walls and ceilings. The weather had not helped the situation and rain had flooded the cellar and leaked through the damaged ceilings into the building.

The Old Parnell's Inn vandalised before it was purchased and restored in 1972

In 1972 the building was purchased by T. and W. Capper and apparently the building still being quite sound despite the damage done by vandals was restored.  From this time on the building has passed through a number of owners but today remains a private residence on Mickleham Rd at Mickleham.

The Parnell Family

George Parnell owner of the Parnell's Inn was born in c.1819 in Norfolk, England and married Maria Jones in 1855.  It wasn't long before their daughter Priscilla was born in 1852 when George Parnell was 33.  George, Maria and Priscilla lived in the bluestone cottage built by George from local quarried stone in 1855.

Sometime later after 1859, George divorced Maria Parnell and remarried to Thirza Harman (nee Cook) who was the second Mrs. Parnell.  Thirza had two sons by her first marriage to Arthur Harman, Arthur Samuel and Robert Harman and of course now her stepdaughter Priscilla, when she married George, the family all lived at the bluestone cottage.  Tragedy stuck the family in 1863 when Priscilla Parnell died aged 11 years and was buried at the Old Mickleham Cemetery in Mt. Ridley Road.

George Parnell died in the October of 1876 aged 57 years and only two years later Thirza, George's second wife, died of a stroke in the November of 1878 leaving the estate at Mickleham to her two sons Arthur Samuel and Robert Harman.  However Robert suffered from epilepsy and was hospitalised for some time leaving Arthur to run the property after his mother's death in 1878 at the age of 24.  Only six years after their mother died Robert died in 1884 at the age of 26 possibly from the effects of the epilepsy he suffered.

Arthur married Sarah Jane Pither born 1856 at Yuroke in 1879 and the couple had five children all daughters,  Ethel 1880, Thirza Jane 1883, Evelyn Matilda 1885, Annie Elizabeth 1888 and Adelaide Louise 1891, at the bluestone cottage at Mickleham.  The couple lived at Mickleham till Arthur died in 1932, then Sarah Jane Harman ran the post office till 1934.

Ethel Harman married Walter Hitchcock in 1909, Thirza Jane married William Patford in 1905, Annie Elizabeth married Thomas Hodgson 1912, Adelaide Louise married Alfred William Roberts in 1916 and Evelyn Matilda married George Henry Groves in 1923.  More information can be found on the family of George Henry and Evelyn Matilda Groves below.

The old Parnell's Inn date unknown but possibly some time after the extension was added between the deaths of George in 1876 and Thirza Parnell in 1878.  You can see the extension clearly in this picture on the last part of the building on the right of the the chimney.

Descendants of Evelyn Matilda Harman



Generation No. 1


1.  EVELYN MATILDA8 HARMAN  (ARTHUR SAMUEL7, ARTHUR6, ROBERT5, GEORGE4, THOMAS3, BEVERSHAM2, JOHN1) was born 25 November 1884, and died 1976 in Aged 91 years, Bendigo, Vic, Reg No: 16300.  She married GEORGE HENRY GROVES, son of JOHN GROVES and MIRIAM PHILLIPS.  He died 5 March 1947 in Tatura Hospital, Vic, Reg No: 17421.



The Argus, Saturday 21 February 1925

GROVES (nee Harman) On the 11th February, at Guildford private hospital, Shepparton, the wife of George H. Groves, Fairview, Tatura a son (Reginald Arthur).

Burial: 28 May 1976, Bendigo, Lawn 4, Gave No: 44839



The Argus, Saturday 8 March 1947

GROVES-On March 5, at Tatura Hospital. George Henry, beloved husband of Evelyn, and loving father of Albert, Elsie (Mrs. Clark), Rodney, Reg (deceased, late R.A.AF.), Valda, and Phyllis and Nancy.

Sweet rest    



Burial: Vic



              i.   REGINALD ARTHUR9 GROVES, b. 11 February 1925; d. 6 September 1944, RAAF, UK.


The Argus, Wednesday 13th September 1944

GROVES. - On June 6. in Great Britain (result of aircraft accident), Flight-Sergeant Reginald A., loved son of Mr. and Mrs. G. H. Groves, Tatura brother of Val, Phyllis, and Nancy, aged 19 years.




The Argus, Monday 18th September 1944

GROVES.-On September 6, killed result aircraft accident England Flight Sgt. Reg A., loved nephew of A. E. Hodgson, Shepparton. Always remembered.




Service number: 430616

Rank: Flight Sergeant

Unit: 27 Operational Training RAF

Service: Royal Australian Air Force

Conflict: 1939-1945

Date of death: 6 September 1944

Place of death: United Kingdom

Cause of death: Accidental

Source: AWM148 Roll of Honour cards, 1939-1945 War, Air Force


              ii.   VALDA GROVES, m. DOUGLAS ANDERSON.


The Argus, Wednesday 1 January 1947

GROVES-ANDERSON.-Valda. daughter of Mr. and Mrs. G. H. Groves, Tatura, to Douglas, son of Mr. and Mrs. R. C. Anderson, N.W. Mooroopna.


             iii.   PHYLLIS MAY GROVES, m. HARRY AUSTIN.


The Argus, Saturday 21 June 1947

GROVES-AUSTIN.-Phyllis May. second daughter of Mrs. G. Groves and the late Mr. Groves, of Kerford Street, Tatura, to Harry, second son of Mr. and Mrs. Austin, of Bendigo.


             iv.   ALBERT GROVES.

             v.   ELSIE GROVES.

             vi.   RODNEY GROVES.

            vii.   NANCY GROVES.


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