The house was completed in 1868. It was built for Frederick Sargood. Sargood made his money selling soft-goods on the goldfields. The house is named after his mother’s maiden-name, Rippon. Lea is an English word for meadow. The property was a large, self-sufficient farm, about twice the size it is now. The mansion was originally 15 rooms; it currently has 33 rooms. Sargood moved in with his first wife, Marian, and their 9 surviving children. There were 7 maids, a butler, 7 gardeners, a coachman and a groom. Sargood was a typical man of the Victorian Age – visionary and practical. This resulted in an elaborate underground watering system and the house having its own electricity supply. Unusually for its time, the house had internal toilets. Sargood was a keen gardener who was particularly interested in orchids and ferns. A large number of plants were imported.