51 Browns Road, St Albans, Christchurch
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
25th June 2004
Lots 3-4 DP 22133 (CT CB3A/313)
Registration also includes the house, its fixtures and fittings and land on CT CB3A/313.
In 1858 a 100-acre block of land bounded by St Albans St, Innes Rd, Rutland St, and Papanui Rd was granted to Benjamin Wyatt, who named his farm Springfield. Springfield was gradually subdivided; a portion being purchased from Jane Skillicorn in 1862 by the brothers George and Francis Goldney, owners of Cora Lynn station. The Goldneys built an elaborate 'picturesque' gothic dwelling on the property they named Chippenham Lodge after their birthplace in Wiltshire.
The house was (unusually) built of brick, reputedly bought from the Canterbury Provincial Council, who had originally imported them from Australia for the Lyttelton Railway Tunnel. The provenance of the design is uncertain, but it has been attributed both to prominent Christchurch architect Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort, and to his one-time partner, Maxwell Bury. The former would seem the more likely however, as the building shares stylistic features with other Mountfort's buildings. In July 1865, following the decision of George Goldney to return to England, the house was auctioned to a Mr Mytton. Mytton added an equally substantial (but plainer) southern wing later that year. This was indisputably designed by Mountfort and Bury; the competent but unexciting design suggesting the hand of the latter in this case.
In 1875 the house and 39 acres were sold to neighbouring landowner the Hon. John Thomas Peacock, a wealthy Australian born shipping merchant, and former Lyttelton MP and Provincial Councillor. Peacock's house Hawkesbury (now demolished), eventually formed the focus for a substantial extended family enclave. Three of the family's houses remain today. Chippenham was transferred by Peacock to his American brother-in-law, John Evans ('Yankee') Brown. Originally from Pennsylvania, Brown emigrated first to New South Wales, where he served as US consul and married Theresa Peacock. In 1864 the Browns joined other Peacock family members in Canterbury. Farming initially at Swannanoa, Brown served as the MP for Ashley from 1871-9, before moving permanently to Christchurch (and Chippenham) in 1879. Brown subsequently served as chairman of the Canterbury Tramway Company, and represented St. Albans in the General Assembly from 1881-84. After his wife's death in 1880, Brown left Chippenham for nearby Amwell. He remarried in 1883, and returned to the United States at the end of the 1880s. Chippenham, however, remained part of Brown's estate until 1902. From 1889-93 the house was occupied by T. C. Norris, accountant of the North Canterbury Charitable Aid Board, and his family.
In 1902 the house and a portion of the property was sold to Walter Joseph Moore, an accountant and estate agent. Further subdivision took place during Moore's tenure. In 1924 the house was bought by H. T. D. (later Sir Hugh) Acland, who also carried out further subdivision. A prominent surgeon, Acland had served in both the Boer War and World War I. After Acland's death in 1961, the property passed through two more pairs of hands before being purchased by a commune, Community Assistance Inc., in 1971. The following year the commune bought an adjoining house on Mansfield Avenue. Members of the community were active in social and political issues of the time - such as the anti-Vietnam war movement, the anti-apartheid campaign, and environmental and education issues. Initial meetings of HART (Halt All Racist Tours) and Greenpeace NZ were held at Chippenham. The house has been maintained and gradually restored by the community; major works have included the replacement of the bargeboards in the late 1970s, and the replacement of the roof in 1987. The commune, today known as the Heartwood Community Te Ngaku o te Raka Inc, still occupies the house.
Historical Significance or Value
Historical significance for its association with the prominent Peacock/Brown family.
Chippenham Lodge has both aesthetic and architectural significance as a fine and rare example of a brick gothic-revival dwelling.
Social significance as the centre of a long-standing urban commune.
(a) historic significance as an original Christchurch home associated with prominent early settlers. It also reflects and embodies the counter-cultural values that emerged in the 1960s, having served as the base for an urban commune since the early 1970s.
(b) It is association with the politically, commercially, and socially prominent Peacock/Brown and Acland families.
(f)The place provides potential for public education. As a residence for a succession of communards over the last thirty years with regular open days, the public has the opportunity to learn both about housing from the pioneer period and the life style of a commune.
(g)The design of the place is a good example of a gothic-revival dwelling, probably designed (at least in part) by prominent architect B. W. Mountfort. It is also an uncommon example of the use of brick for a gothic-revival dwelling.
Maxwell Bury (1825-1912) was born at East Retford, Nottinghamshire and was the son of an Anglican minister. He had training in architecture, civil and steam engineering and ship design, and it appears that some of his training was undertaken at Butterley Ironworks. He subsequently went to sea as an engineer officer. In 1853 he married Eleanor Sarah Deighton (known as Ellen) and the following year they travelled to Australia. They found, when they arrived, that Melbourne was suffering from a post-goldrush depression, and consequently the Burys moved to New Zealand. They arrived in Lyttelton in 1854 from Melbourne and settled in Nelson soon after. Bury established himself as an engineer, and became the chairman of the first Nelson Board of Works. He also became involved in various mining ventures and was churchwarden. By 1858 Bury decided to change professions, and took up architecture again. He was responsible for the first Masonic Hall in Nelson, the 1858 enlargement of Frederick Thatcher's Christ Church, and the Nelson Institute. His design for the Nelson Provincial Buildings did not win the 1858 competition but was successful none the less, as his was the only design that could be built for the specified price. None of these timber buildings now survive.
The area's wealth, which enabled Bury to gain these commissions, was based on mining. When this boom slackened, the Burys moved, arriving in Christchurch in 1863. Their involvement in the church led to further commissions for Bury, including an orphanage in Addington, the Riccarton Parsonage and the Church of St John the Baptist in Latimer Square.
He entered into partnership with Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort (1825-1898) in 1864. The partnership only lasted two years, but in that time Mountfort and Bury were responsible for a number of churches: St James-on-the-Cust, St Mark's at Opawa, St Joseph's at Lyttelton and St Patrick's at Akaroa and a few houses including Risingholme and Chippenham Lodge.
Bury and his family then left for London in 1866. Although it seems he intended to return to New Zealand, various problems delayed this. His marriage appears to have broken up and family tradition has it that Bury went back to sea. Around 1870 Bury did make it back to New Zealand, settling by himself in Nelson. He designed the Chapel of the Holy Evangelists for Bishopdale in Nelson (1875-1876) By 1876 Bury was based in Dunedin and won the competition for the design of Otago University, Dunedin, in 1877. Unfortunately costs on this building overran to such an extent that a Commission of Enquiry into the matter was held in 1879. Thereafter Bury found his commissions dropping off. He did undertake further work for the University from 1883-1885. Some time after 1885 he returned to Nelson, and then to Sydney, where he set up office as a civil engineer in 1890. He retired in Sydney six years later, and in 1908 finally returned to England where he died in 1912.
(Anne Marchant, 'Maxwell Bury of 'Bury and Mountfort', in Bulletin of New Zealand Art History, 19, 1998, pp.3-15)
Mountfort, Benjamin Woolfield
Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort (1825-98) trained as an architect in England, in the office of Richard Cromwell Carpenter, a member of the Cambridge Camden Society (later the Ecclesiological Society). He arrived in Canterbury in 1850.
Mountfort was New Zealand's pre-eminent Gothic Revival architect and, according to architectural historian Ian Lochhead, 'did most to shape the architectural character of nineteenth-century Christchurch.' The buildings he designed were almost exclusively in the Gothic Revival style.
During his career he designed many churches and additions to churches; those still standing include the Trinity Congregational Church in Christchurch (1874), St Mary's Church in Parnell, Auckland and the Church of the Good Shepherd in Phillipstown, Christchurch (1884). In 1857 he became the first architect to the province of Canterbury. He designed the Canterbury Provincial Council Buildings in three stages from 1858 to 1865. The stone chamber of this building can be considered the greatest accomplishment of his career. He was involved in many important commissions from the 1870s, including the Canterbury Museum (1869-82) and the Clock-tower Block on the Canterbury College campus (1876-77). He was also involved in the construction of Christchurch's Cathedral and made several major modifications to the original design.
Mountfort introduced a number of High Victorian elements to New Zealand architecture, such as the use of constructional polychromy, probably first used in New Zealand in the stone tower of the Canterbury Provincial Government Buildings (1859). Overall, his oeuvre reveals a consistent and virtually unerring application of Puginian principles including a commitment to the Gothic style, honest use of materials and picturesque utility. The result was the construction of inventive and impressive buildings of outstanding quality. He died in Christchurch in 1898. A belfry at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Phillipstown, the church he attended for the last ten years of his life, was erected in his honour.
Chippenham Lodge is a large brick 'picturesque' gothic house of 20 rooms, in two distinct parts. The north wing (1862) contains public rooms, and is elaborately gothic, with an asymmetrical profile, ornamental string courses and hood moulds, heavy brackets and barge boards, and arched windows - some in the trefoliar pattern favoured by Mountfort. The southern addition (1865), which contains service and bedrooms, has some echoes of the original design. Although of a similar size, it is smaller in scale and considerably plainer.
Extended to the south.
Addition of hipped gable on north elevation, partial removal of east elevation veranda and addition of bay window.
Slate roof replaced with corrugated iron.
Double brick with originally a slate roof, now corrugated iron
3rd September 2004
Report Written By
New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)
New Zealand Historic Places Trust
NZHPT Field Record Form; NZHPT File 12313-631
K Taylor and D Welch, Chippenham Lodge: A Brief History, Community Press, 1999.
A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT 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.