The family of Heap or Heape can be traced to the 12th century, and came from France originally. By the 18th century they were wholesale grocers and merchants living near Liverpool.
Joseph Heap (1762-1833) formed a rice importing company called Joseph Heap & Sons. Their ships were known as 'The Diamond H Line.'
Sydney Rankin Heap, to whom most of the items in the Collection belonged, was Joseph Heap's great-grandson. Some items were obtained by his father when he went to Burma for business purposes.
Some of the china and glass was bought by or given to Sydney Rankin Heap when, in 1893, he married Frances Elizabeth Heyworth who came from Chicago. Her grandfather had, at one time, lived in Liverpool and been a close friend of the Heaps. Sydney met Frances when he visited her family when on a business trip to Japan, and he married her on his return. During his time in Japan he bought various items. After they were married, they went on a grand tour of Europe as a honeymoon. They visited and bought items in Rome and Paris and perhaps other European cities. The cut glass in the collection is mostly American and the china is a mixture of American and English.
Sydney did not join the family business, but moved to Wales and bought Mellington Hall and its estate. They renovated the house, and shocked the locals by installing 5 bathrooms at a time when one was considered a luxury. He and his wife led an active and social life whilst farming some 2000 acres, a large farm for Britain at that time. At one point Sydney became High Sheriff of the county of Montgomery.
Sydney and Frances (Fassie) had 5 children. By 1957 the parents had died, Mellington Hall was sold and the contents divided among the children. Mrs Mannam (Isobel), the youngest, and her husband DrJohn Mannam, formerly Manhajm, a mechanical engineer originally from Yugoslavia, came to live in Australia. They had no children. Much of their furniture and other valuables have been given to Flinders University. Dr Mannam added some items to the collection, including the Australian paintings.
- notes taken from a letter from Mrs D.R. Barnicoat of Dorset, niece of Mrs Mannam, March 1998 and Dr Mannam, October 2003.