Organisational History

In 1955, a committee of concerned citizens, many of whom were very prominent people in South Australia, was established to save the colonial home of the explorer Captain Charles Sturt and to preserve it for future generations.  The newly formed National Trust of South Australia lent its weight to the effort and generated public support to save the Grange.  At this time it was evident that the fabric of this historic building had fallen into disrepair, and it was feared it was in imminent danger of demolition by the owner. The Henley & Grange Council with the considerable efforts of the Mayor, the late D. J. Newlands, stepped in and purchased the property in 1956.

In 1960 The Charles Sturt Memorial Museum Trust was formed and incorporated to restore Sturt’s home to its former glory.  Tasked with raising the funds to carry out the restoration work, they were ably supported in this venture by the then Premier of South Australia, The Honourable Sir Thomas (Tom) Playford KCMG MP and a number of other leading business men.  

In April 1966, the Corporation of the Town of Henley & Grange gifted the title of the house and its associated land to the Charles Sturt Memorial Museum Trust Inc. subject to a caveat requiring it to restore and maintain the property as a memorial museum and tourist attraction. 
 
Following restoration of the house, a quantity of furniture, artworks, documents and artefacts, some of which were the personal belongings of Captain Charles Sturt and his family, were gifted to the Trust by his grandchildren, Geoffery and Katherine Sturt, and his great grandson, Anthony Sturt. His great nephew the Reverend Napier Sturt also loaned an ivory of Sturt’s mother (Jeanette Sturt nee Wilson) and bequeathed a considerable sum of money to the museum, whilst another great nephew, David Sturt-Bray also donated several family heirlooms.

On April 28, 1967, the Trust instituted a commemorative celebration of Sturt’s Birthday at which his memory was saluted with a toast of punch from the solid silver cup presented to him by the staff of the South Australian Colonial Survey Department in 1839. 

That custom became an important annual historical occasion which has continued until the present day.  It has been further embellished by the participation of the Victoriana Society whose members attend in period costumes and the Fort Glanville Society who annually parade in Colonial uniform and fire one of their antique cannon.

Throughout the year, in accordance with its aims and objectives, to foster and commemorate the explorations and achievement of Captain Charles Sturt, the museum is open to the public on two days per month, and outside of those times conducts tours by arrangement. To further promote the site, and raise additional revenue, the grounds are hired for public functions, weddings, and photographic occasions.

The Sturt Trust also has an outreach program to schools, via organised museum tours, to foster an interest amongst their students to learn about Australian history and in particular the explorations of Captain Charles Sturt.  In particular, The Trust maintains a close contact with the "Grange Primary School", which abuts the western boundary of the property, and its students and staff are encouraged to use the property and visit the museum on an ad hoc basis.

The 1990s was marked by a major heritage study of the "Grange" by the Architectural & Heritage Consultants, McDougall & Vines, which led to a further major refurbishment of Grange. This included new drapery, carpets, wallpaper and a new paint scheme.

In 2003-04 the Nursery Wing underwent an internal structural change and redeveloped as an exhibition space and interpretive gallery with the launch of an exhibition "The Dream & The Reality: an Insight into Captain Charles Sturt 1795-1869", by the well known South Australian Cultural Heritage and Museum Consultant, Denise Schumann, of Schumann & Associates.  In 2005 a further exhibition by Denise Schumann titled, "Across the Continent" based on Sturt's 1844-46 expedition into Central Australia was launched. Coincident with the launch of this exhibition, sound scaping and lighting was installed in the "Grange".