State Highway 1, Overton Farm, Marton

  • Overton. Image included in Field Record Form Collection.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Julia Gatley. Date: 30/08/1989.
  • Overton. Image included in Field Record Form Collection.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Julia Gatley. Date: 30/08/1989.
  • Overton. Interior detail. Image included in Field Record Form Collection.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Julia Gatley. Date: 30/08/1989.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 187 Date Entered 28th June 1990


City/District Council

Rangitikei District


Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region

Legal description

Lots 1 2 DP 19306 Blk XVI Whangaehu SD


This large Tudor-style house was designed by the architect Frederick de Jersey Clere (1856-1952) in partnership with Alfred Atkins (1850-1919), and built for Francis Arkwright (1846-1915). Arkwright, the great great grandson of Sir Richard Arkwright, the inventor of the spinning jenny, was born at Staffordshire, England, and educated at Eton. Between 1874-1880 he was the Conservative Member of Parliament for East Derbyshire. He immigrated to New Zealand about 1882, and purchased some land near Marton in the Rangitikei district. To design his new home Overton, Arkwright commissioned Frederick de Jersey Clere, who, after practising in Feilding had recently established an architectural partnership in Wanganui with Alfred Atkins. Clere and Atkins' design, with its half-timbered construction, is essentially Tudor in style. The house was built by John Alexander and completed by 1884. Unusually, concrete was used to fill in the spaces between the timber rather than the more common brick or cob. De Jersey Clere went on to design some of New Zealand's most important early concrete churches, such as St Mary's, Karori (1911).

Arkwright stood as a Member of Parliament for the seat of Rangitikei but was twice defeated (1887 and 1890). In 1895 he was called to the Legislative Council, serving until 1906, when he resigned and returned to England. Overton was then given to his nephew Henry Arkwright (1882-1956) who had immigrated to New Zealand in 1901. Although he had a range of community interests, Henry is best remembered as a player and administrator of cricket; he was President of the New Zealand Cricket Council in 1927-1928. In 1947 Henry removed the north wing of the house. (It is not clear when other renovations such as the removal of the verandah from the south elevation and alterations to the verandah on the west elevation occurred.) On his death the house and farm passed to his son John. The house remained in the Arkwright family until 1987.

Overton is significant as a relatively early New Zealand work of notable architects Frederick de Jersey Clere and Alfred Atkins. It has historical significance for its association with the Arkwright family for over 100 years. It has technological significance as it shows an innovative use of new materials.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Atkins, Alfred A.

Atkins (1850-1919) was born in Birmingham, England, on 12 June 1850. He studied for seven years at the School of Science and Art in Birmingham under John Millward, a consulting engineer. In 1875 he immigrated to New Zealand, his first job being the Waitara to Wanganui railway line. This was followed in 1879 by his appointment as Engineer to what became the Waitotara County Council.

In addition to being an Associate Member of the Institute of Civil Engineers to which he was elected in 1886, he was also a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects from 1888 and a member of the Royal Sanitary Institute from 1891. During the 1890s Atkins was in partnership for a time with Frederick de Jersey Clere at Wanganui and Wellington. Some of the more notable buildings completed in this period were the Wanganui Technical School in 1892, Wanganui College with Clere in 1894, Wanganui Museum in 1894 and the Wanganui Hospital in 1897. In 1903 he designed the Ward Observatory in Wanganui.

Atkins moved to Wellington in 1908 and set up practice with Roger Bacon. Over the next decade the firm designed many banks and public buildings, their work including several buildings at Wanganui Collegiate School (1909-1910), Cook Hospital, Gisborne (1911), Wairoa Hospital (1912) and much domestic work in Wellington. Atkins died in 1919. The firm known as Atkins and Bacon continues today as Gooch Mitchell Macdiarmid.

Clere, Frederick De Jersey

Clere (1856-1952) was born in Lancashire, the son of an Anglican clergyman, and was articled to Edmund Scott, an ecclesiastical architect of Brighton. He then became chief assistant to R J Withers, a London architect. Clere came to New Zealand in 1877, practising first in Feilding and then in Wanganui. He later came to Wellington and practised there for 58 years.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1886 and held office for 50 years as one of four honorary secretaries in the Empire. In 1883 he was appointed Diocesan Architect of the Anglican Church; he designed more than 100 churches while he held this position. Clere was a pioneer in reinforced concrete construction; the outstanding example of his work with this material is the Church of St Mary of the Angels (1922), Wellington.

As well as being pre-eminent in church design, Clere was responsible for many domestic and commercial buildings including Wellington's Harbour Board Offices and Bond Store (1891) and Overton in Marton. Clere was also involved in the design of large woolsheds in Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa.

He was active in the formation of the New Zealand Institute of Architects and served on their council for many years. He was a member of the Wellington City Council until 1895, and from 1900 a member of the Wellington Diocesan Synod and the General Synod. He was also a member of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts.

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

This large two-storeyed house is imitation Tudor in style. The diagonal lines of the half-timbering are complimented by the extensive use of the gable form. Each elevation has a series of large and small gables in which the half-timbering becomes more complex. The large gables give the definition to sections of the building which project beyond the main line of each façade.

The west façade bears the inscription 'FEA 1884', depicting the initials of the original owner and the date of the building. This façade also has the formal entry to the house. The entry leads to a double height hall space and gallery which is dominated by the extensive use of timber for wall panelling, ceiling lining, staircase and balustrading. From this space access is gained to the formal areas of the house, including the timber-panelled dining room and the library downstairs, and bedrooms upstairs. These rooms form the southern part of the house.

The north end has service areas downstairs and a narrow stair to the smaller bedrooms upstairs. This section can be closed off from the more formal areas of the house.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1884 -

1947 -
North wing removed. Some concrete foundations remain intact

Verandah removed from south facade and library extended to the south

Verandah on the west facade partly closed in

Shingles removed and reclad with galvanised corrugated iron

Windows altered in the north wall of the north west bedroom.

Completion Date

4th September 2001

Report Written By

Helen McCracken

Information Sources

Manawatu Evening Standard

Manawatu Evening Standard

18 February 1924

Scholefield, 1940

G. H. Scholefield, A Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington, 1940

p. 18

Other Information

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.