Manning Park was named after the Manning family that developed a large estate with two homes around the lake.
The family's main home was in Fremantle and the property at the lake was run as a farm.
The Aboriginal name for the lake was Dgilgie after a type of freshwater crayfish that could be caught there.
One story states that Manning changed the name to Devil's Lake due to the local Aboriginal tribe's belief that a bad spirit lurked beneath the surface of the water.
The Aboriginal people then began pronouncing the name as Davilak.
There is another suggestion that the Davilak name came from an earlier settler named Davey when the area was known as Davey's Swamp and was a shortening of the name Davey's Lake.
The estate first came in to the Manning family when it was purchased by businessman Henry Manning in the 1840s.
Henry never actually set foot in Western Australia but sent his younger brother Charles
to manage the family assets in W.A.
Charles built a large house on the corner of Pakenham and Short Streets in Fremantle. The house was somewhat extravagant
for the time and was quickly christened Manning's Folly by the locals.
J.W. Davey initially owned the land around the lake but when he died in 1852, the land was taken up by Charles.
Ruins at the north end of the lake show the location where the Manning family first settled. This was apparently a 10 room
house intended for the farm overseer and from what we can gather this house burned down in the 1860s.
In 1866 a new house with 14 rooms was built on the south side of the lake.
Charles died in 1869 and the property was then in trust to his eldest son Henry (not to be confused with Henry who stayed in England.)
and under the direction of Charles' wife Matilda.
Matilda put the property up for sale and in stepped Henry in England again as he purchased the property outright.
Another member of the family, Lucius, had arrived in Fremantle in 1857 and on his death, Henry (the one in England) left the estate to Lucius.
When Lucius died in 1888, he left the property in trust to his Wife Florence and to their children. The oldest boy, Alfred, took over the business
and the house at Davilak.
Florence remarried to Charles Strode-Hall in 1897 and the couple went overseas to pursue business interests. The vast landholdings of the
family began to be divided among the children and in 1915, Azelia Manning came into the possession of 152 acres where Manning Tree House
(the current museum building) was constructed in the early 1920s.
Azelia was apparently less than happy with the house and complained about the cost, the design and the location. Although the house was completed in 1923, Azelia did not live there permanently until 1928.
Azelia died in 1954 and the history of the house seems to become somewhat confused at this point.
Meanwhile Davilak House had fallen into disrepair and in late 1960 a catatrophic fire gutted the property.
We believe the ruins of Davilak House are just some foundation stones that you can see as you enter the park from the south end.
Manning Tree house remained in use as a private residence for some time after Azelia's death but eventually fell into disrepair.
The local council restored the property and turned it in to a museum in the early 1980s.
The history of the property is somewhat confusing and it took us some time before we managed to piece together what we now think
is the accurate story.
Today the park is a great place to visit, have a walk or a picnic and watch the local bird life.
Facilities at the park include toilets, BBQs, shelters, seats and tables and a children's playground. Dogs are allowed at the park but please ensure they are kept under control and do not interfere with the local birds that live in the area and keep dogs on a leash at all times during nesting season.