Bringing Ernest to life

Insights and stories behind renowned colonial goldsmith and jeweller, Castlemaine’s own Ernest Leviny, are on offer as part of a unique ‘armchair journey’ at Buda House this Sunday.
The talented Ernest Leviny bought the historic local property in 1863 and two generations of the Leviny family then occupied Buda for 118 years until 1981.
This Sunday Buda House curator Lauretta Zilles will give a presentation on Ernest Leviny, sharing rare insights that are the results of many years of research.
“He was a Hungarian by birth who did his apprenticeship in Budapest in Hungary before travelling through Europe eventually to live in Paris for three yeas and then had a successful business in London,” Lauretta says.
“He had a very interesting life before he even set sail for Australia. We think he honed his skills in jewellery making when he was in Paris and when he was in London he was in partnership with a Russian jeweller.
“When gold was discovered in Australia Ernest decided that he’d wrap up things in London and come out for three years.
“He was beset by some misfortunes along the way so the trials and tribulations of Ernest Leviny will be a big part of the story – not just his successes.
“It’s taken me a long time to really put the pieces of the puzzle together with Ernest because he’s been a very interesting man.
“On the early Goldfields it was a real melting pot. Here in Castlemaine in particular there were some very interesting characters and Ernest was a pioneer here in early 1853 and then saw himself as a person who could obviously contribute a lot to the community and he stayed.”
Lauretta’s research has ranged from recording personal anecdotes of people, still living in Castlemaine, who met and knew members of the Leviny family – to research at London’s British Museum and Victorian Albert Museum conducted as part of a Copeland Foundation scholarship.
“It will be great to give this talk,” adds Lauretta, who ultimately aims to have her research into Leviny’s life gathered in a publication.
Sunday’s presentation takes place from 2-4pm in Buda’s sunny garden room and will include afternoon tea.
There are even expected to be a number of Leviny descendants present.
Bookings are available through the Buda website and Trybooking and are limited to 70 places.

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