Historical Significance or Value
Stafford Place is historically important being the residence of one of Nelson's preeminent New Zealand Company immigrant families who went on to form the social and religious core of their rural community. Mary and Henry Redwood were well-known and respected in Nelson and several of their children became prominent people nationally in their respective fields.
This large family travelled from England in the hope of a achieving a self-determined future and were rewarded for their hard work farming their original 1842 allotment of rural land with prosperity by the mid 1860s. This success led to the construction of Stafford Place, whose grand appearance befitted their social status. This status was historically documented on the site of Stafford Place through the family first living in a tent, then a modest cob homestead, and culminated in this statement of the affluence they had accrued over a twenty year period.
The use of the house, or disuse by Mary, is also important because it demonstrates that while this style of house was popular among the New Zealand's elite during the period, and particularly those in Nelson, such residences were not a universal comfortable fit with the self image of settlers who had been accustomed to living modestly, and that their change in circumstances, no matter how gradual, was sometimes not easy to navigate.
Aesthetic Significance or Value
Stafford Place is a family farmhouse picturesquely located in the spacious openness of a rural setting and has considerable aesthetic value. Moreover, as was the tenet of New Zealand's Carpenter Gothic style, the elegant exterior ornamental features and dramatic gable peaks of this distinguished house elevate its appearance above that of an ordinary dwelling and create a sense of contained grandeur.
Architectural Significance or Value
Stafford Place has architectural significance as a large country farmhouse from an early period of New Zealand's rural community. It is an outstanding and representative and rare example of the Carpenter Gothic style which was a significant development in New Zealand residential building and represented a period of architecture nationally which was influenced by domestic nostalgia and Gothic Revival. In particular, the decorated steep gables and curving verandahs show the form and ornamentation of the style. The design and craftsmanship of the bargeboards, lintels and the stairway inside are especially fine. The relaxed spacial qualities of the rooms and their design are a blend of both formality and comfort. Stafford Place's rarity as a Carpenter Gothic house is enhanced because the design integrity of the dwelling has been remarkably well maintained and Stafford Place is particularly noteworthy for this prevalence of essential original features and spaces.
(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history
New Zealand's economy has been predominantly based on rural industries since planned European settlement began, and Stafford Place is reflective of this as the homestead of an early immigrant family to the New Zealand Companies Nelson settlement. Through the farming of their original allotment of rural land the Redwood family was able to prosper and Stafford Place is indicative of the affluence that this family, and other contemporaries, were able to acquire in this way.
(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history
Henry and Mary were important people within early Nelson society, and Stafford Place is also closely associated with two of their children who were important on a national level. While Henry Jnr, who is known as 'the father of New Zealand turf,' lived in his own residence the fact that it was on a section of the family land which was allotted to them upon their arrival in New Zealand ensured his close connection to Stafford Place was not only based on his proximity but also his role in managing and working the family land with his father.
Francis, the youngest son of Mary and Henry, became a Bishop and then Archbishop, and was therefore important as the head of the Catholic Church in New Zealand. His link to Stafford Place was primarily familial since he was based in Wellington, but he is known to have sojourned at Stafford Place when visiting the Nelson region. Because Henry and Mary were prominent persons within the Catholic community in the region, they also hosted events at their residence which included other nationally important religious figures such as Garin, who was among one of the first Catholic missionaries to New Zealand and Nelson's first priest.
(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place
Accentuated craftsmanship was a characteristic of Carpenter Gothic architecture and is a defining feature of Stafford Place that is demonstrated in the exterior decoration, as well as on the interior in features, such as the impressive staircase balustrading. The remarkable maintenance of these original elements and the continued fidelity to original design is an outstanding feature of Stafford Place.
(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape
Stafford Place is an integral part of a larger historical landscape that documents the Redwood family's prominence in the establishment and development of the Appleby area. Aside from Stafford Place this importance is also demonstrated through the naming of Redwood Valley, Redwood Road, the retention of buildings associated with Hednesford which was part of the original allotment of land and became the property of Henry Redwood Jnr, as well as other Redwood connections such as the family plot in the cemetery at St Peter and St Paul's Church, Waimea West.
It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category I historic place.
Stafford Place is an excellent representative example of the Carpenter Gothic style. Other noteworthy examples of this style on the NZHPT Register of historic places that are Category I historic places and are comparable to Stafford Place include Highwic in Auckland, Oneida Homestead at Fordell, and Broadgreen in Stoke. Stafford Place is rare because of the remarkable fidelity to the original design it maintains, in its form, materials, and features. The exceptional architectural significance of this building is comparable with its historical value as the residence of one of Nelson's most prominent and influential early New Zealand Company settler families, the Redwoods. This family was integral in the establishment and development of the local farming community, as well as Catholicism in the Nelson region, the legacy of which was carried on by two Redwood children, Henry Jnr and Francis, who became national leaders in their respective fields of horse breeding and religion and had a close connection Stafford Place. Therefore, Stafford Place has outstanding heritage significance.
The settlement of the Nelson region is said to have begun with the landing of the prominent early iwi, Waitaha, in the waka Uruao. This travelled from Hawaiki and the voyagers made landfall on the Boulder Bank circa 850, near what would become Nelson city. From there scouting parties set out to explore the interior while others continued their sea journey down the east coast of the South Island. The settlement of the Nelson region then ensued and was driven by the fact that the area was found to be rich in resources, such as minerals for fashioning tradable items like adzes. Food, in the form of seal, moa and shellfish, was plentiful too and the district also had large tracts of land with fertile soil, or soil whose fertility could be manipulated, suitable for growing kumara and other garden produce. It was because of this abundance of resources that the district is said to have been 'one of the most fought over in New Zealand.' In the vicinity of the Waimea River and what was to become known as Appleby, there is evidence of Maori occupation and agricultural activity dating from the thirteenth century. In particular, in 1828 there was a large fortified pa situated where Appleby was to be established, that is until it and its residents were destroyed by a war party led by Te Rauparaha.
A European association with the Nelson area was first established in 1642 when Abel Tasman anchored in what was to be called Murderer's, then Massacre, and now Golden Bay. The result of this first visit was a lethal exchange between the Dutch sailors and Ngati Tumatakokiri. It was centuries after this initial encounter that European interest in the area began in earnest with explorative visits from Captain James Cook and Dumont D'Urville and a few others. Then in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century flax traders and sealers began to frequent the coast around Nelson. However, because there were few whaling stations in the immediate area there was no substantive European settlement until the New Zealand Company's establishment and settlement of Nelson from 1841.
The company explored the potential of several sites for its settlement but Nelson was chosen as the nucleus, despite the generally swampy nature of the low lying areas, because of its harbour and the plentiful supplies of game and fish. It was then a matter of Captain Arthur Wakefield meeting with the various iwi of the region to persuade them to agree to the proposed settlement. This was essentially a confirmation and extension of a land sale organised by the Tory expedition in 1839. The meeting took place at Kaiteriteri and Wakefield eventually negotiated a deal with those in attendance. However, subsequent events demonstrate that in regard to this and some later transactions there were discrepancies in what each party believed they had agreed to. This led to several instances of conflict in the Nelson region during the 1840s, in particular. Perhaps the most well-known occurrence was the 'Wairau Affray' in 1843.
It was not until the 1850s that the Nelson community and other towns in the area began to coalesce. Provincial government was established in 1853, and most of the farm land from Wakapuaka to Brightwater was occupied by this date. By the 1850s all of the major Christian denominations could also boast of clergy and associated buildings in and around Nelson. Between 1853 and 1858 the European population of the district had risen from 4,587 to over 7,000 and continued to grow and prosper into the 1860s and 1870s with the aid of the local gold rushes and the nationwide demand for the areas produce. This growth in population can be seen in the coinciding increase in churches and school buildings which were necessary to supplement those already established.
The extension of settlement beyond Nelson town and the established of farms was a recognised necessity in order for the town to progress. However, this was problematic because much of the surrounding district was mountainous, densely forested, or was covered in fern or swamp, and of inconsistent levels of fertility. Like other places in the Nelson region, Appleby is said to have been named by an early local settler's home town in England. Its name was changed from Lower West Waimea in the 1850s. When more people came to Appleby they found that the fertility of the soil, which had been proven through the extensive gardens that local Maori had had in the area, meant that the establishment of farms and orchards in the area was not as arduous as elsewhere. The condition of access roads and the barrier of the Waimea River meant the community was quite isolated though. Through the perseverance of early settlers, by the 1870s Appleby, like other places in the district, was a well established farming community, but it differed in that its main focus was dairy farming. Many of the famers also had close familial links with the majority of other local households.
The Redwood family immigrated to New Zealand as part of the New Zealand Company's planned Nelson settlement, and became a very prosperous and prominent early settler family within this community. The family, which included Henry and Mary Redwood and nine of the couple's ten children, travelled from England on the George Fyfe, arriving in Nelson in December 1842. They soon settled on their selected land in West Waimea, which would become the site of Stafford Place, while Henry set up the family's butchery business on their allocated town acre in Nelson. The family lived in a tent for the first six months of their residence and then were able to move into their 'comfortable farm house' constructed from either cob or 'peasy'. Aside from establishing dairy and sheep farming on this original piece of land, hops and corn were grown on the property and horses were also bred. Through this agricultural and horticultural produce the family firmly established themselves as one of the leading families in the district. They also quickly asserted themselves into the social networks of the new colony and Henry, in particular, was very active publically. At one point he was the Nelson Provincial Council representative for Waimea West for much of 1859.
Henry's passion is said to have been sport but his leisure activities did not distract him from business, and as such the family were reasonably affluent. Henry was a racing enthusiast and consequently had a large stable of thoroughbreds which he imported from Australia. His son, Henry Jnr (1823-1907) inherited this love from his father and built what is thought to be the first horse racing stables in New Zealand on the section of the family land that he called Hednesford. Henry Jnr became nationally known in horse racing circles and was labelled the 'Father of the Turf' on account of his efforts in establishing the sport in New Zealand and as one of the preeminent early breeders. There was also another house on the property which was built by Joseph Ward (1817-1892), the surveyor whom Ward's Pass is named after, who was married to Martha Redwood and came out to New Zealand with the family. Ward was also involved in the Redwood family's butchery business as was Henry Jnr.
The Redwood's were Catholic converts, exceptionally devout, and have been singled out as a key family in the establishment of the Nelson Catholic Parish. Father Antoine Marie Garin (1810-1889), Nelson's first Catholic priest who arrived in 1850 and became a pillar not just the Catholic community but the Nelson community in general, said that at 'Waimea West there was a truly patriarchal Family, The Redwoods - one would have thought they had been born in the Church.' Henry is recorded as saying that if he could not succeed in bringing a priest to Nelson then he would have to pack up the family and move to Tasmania where there was one, and it was largely as a result of Henry's campaigning that Garin and others eventually came to Nelson. The family was heavily involved in establishing the Catholic community in Nelson and were ardent supporters of the church at Waimea West. Given the devotion of the family it is perhaps not surprising that the youngest child, Francis William (1839-1935), became Garin's protégé, studied and was ordained in Europe and on his return became a bishop and later Archbishop of New Zealand. Garin was a close family friend and it is said that the homestead, including the new building, was considered a parish centre.
In 1866 a new house, or 'The Castle' as Mary termed it, was constructed alongside the original house and this then became known as Stafford Place. By this time Francis had completed his schooling, been ordained and was living and lecturing at a university in Dublin, Henry Jnr had built Hednesford, and their other siblings were living on or in close vicinity to the farm or in Marlborough. The house then, is representative of the head of the family's decision to upgrade their home, and no doubt the design is reflective of the change in their fortunes and social status since their arrival on the land over twenty years earlier. The materials for the timber, two-story house with large rooms and ornamental finishing touches, would have been milled locally, and it is believed that the brick foundations were made on site in a specially built kiln. With its steep pitched gables and elaborately decorated bargeboards the style of the building is described as New Zealand Carpenter Gothic of which Stafford Place is classed among the finer examples. The distinguished Nelson architect William Beatson built several residential buildings which share this style, but it is unclear who designed Stafford Place.
The new house's opulent and grand appearance was juxtaposed against the old modest and inherently practical homestead by being located immediately next to each other. The two buildings were connected through adjoining doors and Mary, being more comfortable with the home she had lived in since 1843, is said to have continued to live in and use the original residence and insisting on continuing to use the kitchen in that building rather than the new one.
The Redwoods connection with Stafford Place was severed only a few years after Henry died at the age of 79 in June 1873. A requiem mass was held for him and he was described as one of the leading lights of the province. One lengthy account of his funeral finished by saying:
Henry Redwood has been laid in his grave, after a long life passed honourably, faithfully, and without blemish. The inheritance of character which he leaves behind him is a thing of the highest social value. We shall not look upon his face again but the memory of his truthfulness and good sense, of his industry and discharge of duty, will long remain a beacon to our community.
It was following her husband's death, that Mary uprooted to go and live with her son Charles in Marlborough in 1877, and most of the Redwood land in the Nelson area was sold. However, the names Redwood Valley, Redwood Road, Redwood Crossing, and Ward Pass, are all testaments to the prominent place that the family have in the early history of the Nelson region and their impact on it. Their removal from Stafford Place was a blow to the local community and its social scene because as a prominent local family there were often social occasions held at the property, such as church meetings but also large picnics like one held in February 1875 which involved about 100 guests and included adult members of the family such as Francis and Ward, as well as other well-known Nelson residents like Garin.
Several families have owned Stafford Place subsequent to the Redwoods. Despite Mary continuing to use the earlier homestead after Stafford Place was constructed, the next owners of the property, the O'Connor's, only used that building occasionally. The cob homestead was demolished as a result of the severe damage it received during the 1929 Murchison earthquake. Stafford Place continued to be occupied throughout the twentieth century with the only significant structural change to the building was made in the early 1980s. This included extending the kitchen area out into the existing verandah area to create a dining nook. By the turn of the twenty-first century a garage had been erected at the southeast corner of the house, and the house, while structurally sound, was in need of repair. The Livingston's, whose early relative worked for the Redwoods in the 1850s, undertook this and also removed any unsympathetic interior fitting accretions. The existing kitchen was renovated and an ensuite for the northeast upstairs bedroom was installed, but no major structural interior changes were made. This work was recognised in 2002 with a Tasman District Council heritage award. The land surrounding the house, which has been subdivided several times over since the time of the Redwoods, now encompasses five hectares and is used for olive production.
Stafford Place is located on the north-western side of the Waimea Plains, within easy sight of the Redwood Valley. It is few minutes drive from Rabbit Island on east side and the Appleby Straights on the west. It is located near the centre of an almost rectangular farmlet site, in the middle of a generally-flat country block, a few kilometres from the Pea Viner Corner.
Stafford Place is approached from the south by a long tree-lined drive off Redwood Road. Past the recently reconstructed brick stables and between a mature maple and the late addition of a garage/outhouse, the south side of the house can be seen. Surrounding the house are lawns and border gardens and large trees. To the west a long stone wall separates the garden from a small meandering water course. Beyond in all directions are orchards and a few farm structures.
Stafford Place is a medium sized country house of tall peaks, decorated gables and elegant verandahs, built in the Carpenter Gothic style which was popular in New Zealand from the late 1850s and through the 1860s. The house is an example of the delightful, nostalgic, and memorable, 'whimsical and unscholarly' style of Carpenter Gothic; a style derived from a revival in use of Gothic forms in Britain and America. The influence of pattern books and American publications which disseminated this style is evident in Nelson as the architects and builders of the area seem to have been particularly fond of this style. Stafford Place has the quintessential steep gables and ornamental bargeboards of the style, which can also be seen in other excellent New Zealand examples of Carpenter Gothic style residences, such as Oneida Homestead at Fordell and Highwic in Auckland. However, whereas these examples are grandiose manor houses, the interpretation of Carpenter Gothic style at Stafford Place is tailored to suit the rural homestead function of the building. At Stafford Place the embellished and repeating forms make for a picturesque and warmly domestic home, and as such it is closely akin to other Nelson Carpenter Gothic houses in scale, such as Broadgreen.
The house is built low to the ground, and is T shaped with two equally-high two-storey gables forming the T. The house is oriented northeast to southwest allowing the living rooms and bedrooms a sunny aspect.
On three sides the house is marked by gables, of varying pitch and size, in exquisite profusion. The southwest side (the elevation seen on approach) has a major decorated gable and two plain dormers of different sizes. This elevation has been extended by weatherboard lean-tos of differing ages and a modern garage.
The northeast side (a gable and one dormer) and northwest side (a gable and two unequal dormers) all have ornamental bargeboards, finials and windows. The bargeboards are decorated with a timber frieze of stylized leaves and looping vine. Dormers and gables feature centrally placed casement windows at similar height - two or three depending on the gable size. Below, a concave verandah roof skirts around the two sides. Behind the verandah are windows and doors leading into the main entrance and living rooms. Two bay windows extend into the verandah from the northern-most room. At the eastern corner the verandah was enclosed in the mid 1980s, with a bay window, to form a kitchen extension.
The southwest side is the most limited in features and decoration. It includes a single two-storey finialed gable, the verandah end and the long side of the lean-to. The upper level window is centrally placed and a ground floor door leads into the Little Sitting Room. This is the wall that was next to the 'peasy cottage' and this accounts for the abrupt and straight ending to an otherwise highly articulated building form.
On the exterior of the house, the roofing is corrugated iron with two chimneys whose height has been enclosed by gables. All gable points have finials. Weatherboards are generally lapped although the verandah features rusticated boards. The verandah has bowed rafters with horizontal sarking, long decking timbers, and champfer-stopped posts spaced in pairs. A continuous lintel decoration runs between the posts. Original windows are casement sashes with central finely-fashioned transoms. The living rooms on the ground floor under the verandah are long, and maintain the central transom pattern. Where joinery has been added or replaced, the form has generally been repeated.
Interior - Lower Floor
The interior of the house is largely original. The first layout of the house is evident in the present configuration with rooms generally maintaining their original place. The ground floor was built with high ceilings while the upper level was designed to fit in between the gables and dormers. The interior spaces of the lean-tos are smaller and ceilings are lower.
A few adjustments reflect the changing nature of family life: the (likely) building-in of outhouses as lean-tos and their subsequent reconfigurations; the additions of a toilet and cupboards upstairs; the reassignment of an upper level room as a bathroom; suspended ground floor ceilings; and the closing in of a small section of verandah as a family dining area with the removal of a wall section to the kitchen. Regardless of these, the sense and material of the original house is completely readable. Living rooms and bedrooms are in their place.
Original materials are featured in the house structure and linings, timber windows, doors, a stairway and trim timbers. All spaces essential to the design are maintained.
The South Entrance to the house, seen on arrival, leads into an Entrance Hall which is within part of the lean-to. The ceiling is therefore low, decorative finishes are limited and panel doors lead in all directions. Forward, across the hall a door leads into the Stairway/Entry Hall with the glazed entry door and sidelight leading out onto the verandah and the garden beyond. Panelled doors, left and right, give access into the two primary living rooms. The most remarkable feature of this hall is the magnificent stairway, each stair with a tread return, and the entire flight taking two quarter turns. The balustrading has striking features: newels with internal carving, newel drops, turned balusters, and reeded stringers decorated with burr curving motifs and flora patterns. Above, the ceiling follows the form of the roof and a high dormer window looks out over the drive. Timber skirtings and architraves are molded.
To the left is the Little Sitting Room, a room of generously comfortable proportions. It has a five-panel window of long sashes over timber panels looking out to the northwest under the verandah, and the door leading directly outside to the southwest. The ceiling is plaster panel and batten; walls are plaster; timber skirtings are formed and deep, and a refashioned fireplace is centrally positioned. A door leads back to the Entrance Hall.
To the right is the Drawing Room, a room of similar proportions and joinery. It occupies the pre-eminent north-corner position of the house. Two bay windows, with five long sashes and lower timber panels, overlook the garden in two directions. The recent suspended plaster ceiling is smooth plaster. A rebuilt fire with timber surround backs onto the kitchen next door.
The Kitchen and its Dining Room extension occupy the east corner of the ground floor. The Kitchen is fitted with new joinery and has a three sash window which looks out to the driveway. The ceiling is lower and smoothly plastered. Original timber flooring is exposed. The Dining Room extension fits into the verandah space and includes a 3 sided bay window.
Away to the left from the South Entrance the lean-tos include parts of various ages. They incorporate a bedroom, laundry, bathrooms and a services entry. The ceilings follow the roof slope and window joinery is built to match original windows. Services and interior joinery are recent.
Interior - Upper Floor
At the top of the stairs, a large landing is fully open to the ground floor below. It has a dormer window facing northwest over the lawn and panelled timber doors leading to three bedrooms (two large bedrooms and a small one). A toilet enclosure has been fitted into the landing space, taking in half a dormer. At this level, the slope of the dormers and the main gables create sharp sloping ceiling, irregular spaces, and awareness that roof forms have determined the interior volumes. Windows are high off the floor suggesting that their placement has been influenced by the demands of external appearance. Joinery is generally original. Some cupboard fittings have been built to match.
The generous Main Bedroom on the west corner has windows facing northwest and southwest. As for all rooms at this level, the ceiling is predominantly flat (as the bedroom fits under the primary gable) with roof shapes protruding at the corners. Joinery has been built into the south internal wall and a small bathroom has been installed in one corner.
Across the landing two doors lead into two further bedrooms. A truncated panel door, fitting under the gable, leads to the smaller Little Blue Bedroom on the north corner. It is a room of similar roof shapes, joinery and wall surfaces with a three sash window facing out over the lawn. Adjacent, the Guest Bedroom is roomy with built-in joinery and a three sash window looking northeast. The adjoining wall between the two bedrooms is built too close to the window - suggesting a possible revision in the original design either at the time of construction or subsequently.
Leading from the Guest Bedroom, and built two steps up, is a Bathroom, understood to be a previous prayer room. Located on the east corner, it fits into a northeast dormer and its south facing window occupies the centre of the T gable-end. The timber floor is exposed and refinished. Bathroom fittings are new.
South of the house is a utility building, the footprint of which is that of the original stables at Stafford Place. Built on the original site, and constructed of bricks sourced from Christchurch, it is a reconstruction of the original stables based on historic photographs of the building. New arches, windows and doors are modelled on the original features. A new concrete floor has been formed in the interior.
Timber, brick, corrugated iron, glass.
17th September 2009
Report Written By
K. Astwood, A. Dangerfield
Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1906
Cyclopedia Company, Industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations, Wellington, N.Z, 1897-1908, Vol. 5, Nelson, Marlborough, Westland, 1906
Lash, Max D., Nelson Notables 1840-1940: A Dictionary of Regional Biography, Nelson, 1992
Jim McAloon, Nelson: A Regional History, Whatamango Bay, 1997
J and H Mitchell, Te Tau Ihu o te Waka - A History of Maori of Marlborough and Nelson, Wellington, 2004
J N W Newport, A short history of the Nelson Province, RW Stiles ad Co Ltd, Nelson, 1966
Jeremy Salmond, Old New Zealand Houses 1800-1940, Auckland, 1986, Reed Methuen
H Best, Appleby, Wellington, 2006
L Burgess, Historic Houses: a visitor's guide to 65 early New Zealand houses, Auckland, 2007
A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Central 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.