A deep dive into Ormond’s accounts from a century ago tells us much about the significant changes in College life over that time.

Our accounts indicate that a century ago, the college purchased different goods. Such as cows. For over fifty years, Ormond livestock roamed our grounds as well as church lands in Parkville, providing extra income for the Master. When we added another animal to our herd in 1920, she cost the same as employing 4 labourers for a month. Also on the books were the services of a bull shared with Trinity.

The services we paid for a hundred years ago also provide a fascinating influence into a vanished age. Our contractors no longer include a chimney sweep, or a minister to run daily college prayer gatherings for students, for example.

But some services stay the same: just as we contract a vaccination service today, in 1919 the College paid an honorarium to its two medical tutors for the same purpose ‘in light of the influenza pandemic.’

Cows grazing in front of Main Building, c.1890-1910.

Other suppliers also speak volumes about a previous age: the college purchased brooms from a ‘blind asylum’ and eggs from ‘Mrs Johnson’ and ‘Mrs Roberts’, likely widows running small businesses.

Finally, our accounts demonstrate the proportion of our food budget we spent on different food groups, as indicated in the graph below. There is no money spent at a baker, which suggests we made our own bread. Marmalade was a significant cost that month, and we also dined on rabbit. While the amount of money spent on each type of food is influenced by the greater cost of some food groups, the chart does suggest how meat-heavy the Anglo-Australian diet was at that time. Plant-based? Not a thing here yet. Milky tea, mutton and marmalade toast? Bring it on.

Proportion of the Ormond food budget spent on particular food supplies in April 1920

Share your Ormond story

Every Ormondian has their own unique experience of College life, and their own story to tell. What Ormond moment stands out in your memory? Whether on the sporting field or the stage, in the JCR, Dining Hall or on Picken Lawn, share your favourite story of life at Ormond College.