Historical information

The key is one of a collection of seven 1860s keys once belonged to the Glenample Homestead near Princetown. They are all keyed with different bits and would have opened the external panelled doors of the Georgian building. The keys would now be around 150 years old. The keys are now part of the John Chance Collection.

Locksmiths became a recognised trade by the middle of the 19th century, doing work that blacksmiths and gunsmiths would have done. They were craftsmen and trained apprentices for their trade. The local community and businesses relied on them for making a wide variety of precision objects such as locks and keys, knives, ornamental and decorative latticework, fine instruments, accurate tools and hardware items.

Glenample Homestead became famous after the disastrous wreck of the sailing ship Loch Ard on June 1, 1878. The owners, Hugh Hamilton Gibson and Peter McArthur, were involved in the rescue and recovery of Eva Carmichael and Tom Pearce, the only two survivors, as well as overseeing the salvage of items from the shipwreck and the burial of those who lost their lives. Eva first met Jane Shields at Glenample and they became long-time friends.


The keys are significant as an example of mid-19th century locksmith hardware, and for their connection with Glenample Homestead, and for their connection to the history of the Loch Ard shipwreck’s only two survivors.
The set of keys also hold significance as they were discovered by John Chance, who was also a diver from the wreck of the Loch Ard in the 1960s-70s. Items that come from several wrecks along Victoria's coast have since been donated to the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village’s museum collection by his family, illustrating this item’s level of historical value.
Glenample Homestead is of historical, social and architectural significance to the State of Victoria and is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register (VHR H0392). It is a historical example of early settlement and development of a run in the coastal land of South West Victoria, and it is constructed from locally quarried sandstone but doesn’t take away from its Georgian design.
Glenample Homestead is of State significance through its unique connection with the wreck of the ship Loch Ard and the connection to its owners, Hugh and Lavinia Gibson and Peter McArthur, played a historically and socially significant role in the rescue and care of the survivors, the salvage of goods and the burial of those who lost their lives.
The shipwreck of the Loch Ard itself is of significance for Victoria and is registered on the Victorian Heritage Register (S417).

Physical description

Key; steel domestic door key. Flat open bow with 'figure 8' space, round shank that flares out slightly above the collar on the bit. The rectangular bit has internal notches and grooves. There is a rounded pin on the end.