The Wairau Valley is a wide river valley with rolling hills in the upper valley, opening onto the Wairau Plain, where Blenheim and Renwick are situated. The general area was a favoured place for Maori cultivating food plants and there were scattered hamlets or families dotted about the surrounding area. Tensions rose in 1843 when early British settlers from Nelson began surveying land in the Wairau and in June 1843 fighting erupted between colonial 'vigilante' settlers and chief Te Rauparaha and a group of Ngati Toa who were occupying land by the banks of the Tua Marina River in the Wairau Valley. Nowadays known as the 'Wairau Affray', it was the first serious clash of arms between Maori and the British settlers after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, with deaths resulting on both Pakeha and Maori sides. It was some time before official landholding by the new settlers began to be resolved, but by the early 1850s the small settlement of Beaver Station (later renamed Beaver Town and then Blenheim) had begun.
The site on which the town was established had been taken up as two rural sections in 1848 by Alfred Fell, who had soon cut up 300 acres of land into quarter-acre sections for sale. James Sinclair, a Scotsman, arrived at Beaver Station with his wife in 1852. Sinclair soon established a store there and came to be a leading businessman, credited with being the founder of the town that is now known as Blenheim. A survey map of the town of Beaver, by Alfred Dobson, dated June 1857 shows streets and sections laid out. Dobson's map shows Lot 557 marked out on the corner of Poynter Street and Dillon Street Lot 557. It is probable that this whole block of land remained undeveloped for some time.
It is not known if there was a previous structure erected on Lot 557, but certificates of title show that from 1900 there have been a series of owners and it is not entirely clear which of the early twentieth century owners were the builders of the present corner bay villa.
In 1900 James Henderson of Christchurch purchased all the sections within the block bounded by Monro, Percy, Dillon and Poynter Streets. Less than a year later, in March 1901, Henderson sold them to Mary Sowman, wife of William Alfred Sowman, a grocer of Blenheim. Mrs Sowman retained ownership of the entire six and a half acre block for a time. In February 1911 Section 557, a corner section of that block known as both 8 Dillon Street and 8 Poynter Street, was purchased by Lucy Sinclair, wife of David Patrick Sinclair, a Blenheim solicitor. The Sinclairs were a prominent very early Blenheim family. David Patrick Sinclair, son of founder of The Beaver (Blenheim), James Sinclair, became Town Clerk of Blenheim in 1903 after training as a barrister and solicitor. He was closely associated with the Wesleyan Methodist Church.
It has been speculated that the Sinclairs built the present house on this section, due to a mortgage taken out by Lucy in 1911. However, if the Sinclairs did build the house, it may have been for speculation purposes only, as they sold the property a short time later, in 1913, to James Foster Rudd, a farmer of Blenheim. James Foster Rudd was the son of George Rudd who had emigrated from Yorkshire and settled farming in Greendale in Canterbury in the mid 1850s. James F Rudd was involved with the formation of the primitive Methodist church in Greendale. The Rudds branched out to Marlborough and continued farming there. James and William Rudd were the owners of Benhopi (Benhopai) sheep run and John Dodsworth Rudd owned 'Summerlands' in Blenheim, which remains in the family today. The property at 8 Poynter Street remained in the ownership of the Rudd family for many years until 1947 when it was purchased by M L F Farringdon, a clerk of Blenheim. Farringdon sold to John Halford Walton, Blenheim solicitor, and his wife Gaynor Walton in 1956. The property was transferred in 1980 to James and Patricia Palmer, and three years later, in 1983 to William and Rhondda Tannock. Rossmore James and Mary Helen Maddren then purchased the house in 1991 and since 1998 it has been owned by Bretton Paris Cunningham and Jacqueline Ann Cossar.
An early twentieth century photograph of the north-eastern corner of Dillon and Poynter Streets shows the house, possibly only a few years after construction. The early photograph shows the house in a typical Edwardian presentation, with light coloured paintwork for the weatherboards and dark paintwork for window surrounds, verandah posts, brackets and the roof. The verandah originally had criss-cross balustrading and the verandah posts had curved brackets fanning out beneath the bull-nosed verandah roof. The entrance porch had decorative cresting to match that on the ogee turret and ogee roof covering of the bay window at the north end of the eastern elevation. A windmill shown in the photograph appears to be at the rear of the property, possibly to pump water from a well. Although some of the decorative timberwork no longer survives, the house is recognisably the same as the one shown in the early photograph.
The house has undergone minor redecoration and alteration over time. Some of the exterior decorative timberwork, including the cresting of the porch, has been removed. The most obvious alteration is the infilling of the verandah on the north elevation in 1961. Also in the 1960s most of the ceilings were lowered (the original ceilings remain above). In the 1980s built-in wardrobes were added to the west wall in the master (south-eastern) bedroom and some of the fireplaces were blocked up. A swimming pool was added on the north side of the property, several metres from the house, in the 1970s or 1980s. A garage was erected in the northern corner of the property in the 1930s and was later demolished.
In 2009 the lean-to laundry on the west side of the house has had its ceiling restored to the original height. The pad for the original copper remains below the present shower.
The house at 8 Poynter Street is located on a large property (2023 square metres) at the corner of Poynter and Dillon Streets in Blenheim. A very large pin oak is situated less than 10 metres to the west of the house at the centre of a circular driveway into the property, off Dillon Street. To the west of the circular driveway, at 10 Dillon Street, is a more recent house that was built on the site of an early orchard associated with the house at 8 Poynter Street.
The house is a single storeyed villa constructed of rusticated weatherboard and with a corrugated iron roof. It has a bull nosed verandah across the two facades facing the streets on the east and south side. At the intersection of the two verandahs is a polygonal shaped bay with an ogee roof with timber 'crown' detailing. There is a similar ogee shaped covering but without the timber 'crown' over a bay window on the eastern side. The windows are double hung sash and the main entrance door on the east elevation has six panels. Three tall painted brick chimneys signal the layout of fireplaces within the house itself.
The interior of the house comprises a central hallway, lounge, kitchen, laundry and five bedrooms, although the current bedroom to the south of the main entrance hall is likely to have been a sitting or drawing room originally. A sun room at the north end of the house is formed from the enclosure of the original verandah on the north side. The house appears to have had six fireplaces, served by the three chimneys still surviving. Most of the fireplaces have been blocked. The fireplace from the kitchen and its associated fireplace in the adjacent bedroom are covered over but the hearths remain beneath the flooring.
The style of the house is typical of late Victorian and Edwardian corner bay and corner angle bay villas. The house at 56 George Street, Blenheim (NZHPT Record Number 2954) and 18 Monro Street (NZHPT Record Number 1525, Deficient Registration) are such examples. The villa at 80 New Renwick Road, Blenheim (NZHPT Record Number 5432) has a pointed turret roof. Houses with turrets or turret style roofing incorporated are often associated with Queen Anne style houses. They were extensively used in Queen Anne houses in England, and in San Francisco they are frequently found on late nineteenth century timber houses. This style was frequently used in New Zealand from the late nineteenth century through until the First World War when bungalows and other styles gradually took over. Houses with turrets became relatively popular in the early twentieth century in towns, echoing a style that had been popular with rich country (and a few town) landowners in the nineteenth century.
The house at 8 Poynter Street is fairly representative as a corner angle bay villa but the particular type of turret, that is, ogee in shape and with its decorative cresting or 'crown', appears to be a little unusual. Turrets tend to be used in design largely for decoration purposes and the house at 8 Poynter Street is no exception. A study of turrets in Wellington private residences suggests that the 'witches hat' style is common but that the dome with pediments tends to be rarer.
Verandah enclosed on north elevation, ceilings lowered.
1911 - 1913
Timber, corrugated iron, glass
17th December 2009
Report Written By
Broad, 1892 (1976)
L. Broad, 'Jubilee History of Nelson', Nelson, 1892 (reprinted by Capper Press, Christchurch1976)
Stevan Eldred-Grigg, A Southern Gentry: New Zealanders Who Inherited the Earth. A H and A W Reed, New Zealand, 1980.
A D McIntosh et al (eds), Marlborough: A Provincial History, Marlborough Historical Society, Blenheim, 1940
Jeremy Salmond, Old New Zealand Houses 1800-1940, Auckland, 1986, Reed Methuen
Thomas Aidala, The Great Houses of San Francisco, New York, 1987.
The New Zealand Period House: A Conservation Guide, Auckland, 2004.
Heritage New Zealand
Heritage New Zealand
G. Mew, 'Let's Look Up to Turrets', August 2001.
A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Central/Southern Region Office
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.