23 Worcester Street, Christchurch

  • House.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: B Carr. Date: 8/02/2011.
  • House, 23 Worcester Street.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: B Carr. Date: 8/02/2011.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1894 Date Entered 10th September 2004


Extent of List Entry

Registration includes the House, its fixtures and fittings, and the land on CT CB30F/695.

City/District Council

Christchurch City


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Lot 10 DP 1003 (CT CB30F/695), Canterbury Land District


The block bounded by Worcester, Gloucester and Montreal Streets, and Rolleston Avenue was granted by the Canterbury Association to the (Anglican) Church Property Trustees in 1856 and 1858. The Trustees sold the land to Reverend John Raven in 1874. Raven died in England in 1886, and Raven's Paddock - as it was then known - was subsequently subdivided and sold by his trustees. The title of 23 Worcester Street was issued to Mrs Jane Cole in July 1896, and the house was built soon after. Jane Cole (?-1931) was the wife of George Henry Cole (1844-1930). George Cole arrived in New Zealand in 1866, and worked for the railway goods department for a number of years. In 1878 he transferred to the employ of shipping/commercial agent and merchant Charles W. Turner. The Coles lived together in the house.

In September 1924 the house was sold to merchant Ernest Sandston, who on-sold it two months later to William McIhoy, gentleman. McIhoy immediately transferred the property to Ellen Winifred Mary Cox, spinster. Ellen was a daughter of Charles Percy Cox (1835-1925) and his wife Sarah, a daughter of Bishop Harper. Cox arrived in New Zealand in 1853, and became the managing partner in Springs Station with J.E. Fitzgerald in 1857. The pair later purchased Longbeach (which they sold together with Springs in 1863) and in 1862, Mt Somers. Cox subsequently bought Fitzgerald out, and farmed Mt Somers until 1876. In 1878 he became a land and estate agent in Ashburton, forming the firm of Matson, Cox and Co with Henry Matson in 1880. The partnership broke up in 1888. Cox later had speculative interests in gold mining and live sheep exports, but was working as a commission agent at the turn of the century. He was also prominent in local affairs, serving as a member of the Ashburton Roads Board and as a JP. After retirement in the early years of the twentieth century, Cox and his wife were cared for by daughter Ellen. Charles Cox died at 23 Worcester Street in 1925 aged 90, and Sarah in 1938 aged 98.

In December 1924, Ellen Cox applied for a building permit to make £700 worth of additions to the house. It is presumably at this time that the partial first floor at the rear was added, probably providing bedroom accommodation. The builder was W. H. Winsor.

In 1951 the property was transferred from Ellen to Somers Cox, sharebroker, and Kenneth Cox, company secretary, who immediately transferred it to Ellen's brother Aubrey. Aubrey was educated at Canterbury College and Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1913 he began a career as a civil servant in India with an appointment to the position of Professor of English and History at Muir College in Allahabad. Other positions he filled included Inspector of Schools in Meerut (1914), and Director of Education in Jodhpur (1926-7). Cox was also on active service in Persia 1918-20. At retirement (probably in the 1940s), Cox returned to Christchurch. In 1972, 23 Worcester St was transmitted from Aubrey back to Somers and Kenneth Cox (as administrators). They immediately transferred it to Oak Properties, who made minor alterations - converting the house to a dental surgery and self-contained up-stairs flat, and developing the front yard as parking. In 1987 the property was purchased by Martha Ashby and Lexie Knowsley.

In 1996 the house was sold to Real Restaurants Ltd, the company of prominent Christchurch restaurateur, Richard Till. Major internal alterations and landscaping were carried out in 1997 to enable Till to operate the 'Worcester Dining Room' on the premises. In 1999 the business was sold to Bruce Griffiths and Mike Bradstock, who changed the restaurant's name to 'Cook'n With Gas'. The building was purchased by Fresh Harvest Ltd in 2001.

23 Worcester Boulevard is one of a homogeneous precinct of late nineteenth century houses facing the Arts Centre across Worcester Boulevard. Generally well maintained, the houses contribute significantly to the historic character of the area.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The house has historical significance for its connection with the Cox family.

23 Worcester Boulevard has æsthetic and architectural significance or value as part of a complementary group of distinctive nineteenth century villas (all registered Category II) on Worcester Boulevard opposite the main entrance of the Christchurch Arts Centre.

(a) and (g) provides an illustration, in tandem with its neighbours, of the range of variations on the standard villa plan available to the middle-class at the turn of the century. The house, with its double bay windows, is in a style unusual for Christchurch;

(k) forms part of a precinct of late nineteenth century houses that collectively contributes significantly to the historical landscape of Worcester Boulevard, the chief cultural artery of Christchurch.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Winsor, W.H

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

A rectangular hip-roofed weatherboard villa. The southern, street elevation has two three-sash box bay windows, linked by a central porch with wooden 'fleur-de-lis' fretwork. The front door has side-lights and a transom. In 1924-5 a second storey addition was made across the rear of the house. This addition, which has no architectural merit, is screened from the street and does not detract from the house's original appearance.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1896 - 1897

1924 - 1925
Addition of partial first floor (at rear).

1972 -
Conversion for use as dental surgery; internal access to first floor removed and an external stair added to make the upper floor a self contained flat.

1997 -
Substantial alterations to the internal layout for restaurant.

Construction Details

Timber with an iron roof.

Completion Date

7th October 2004

Report Written By

Pam Wilson

Information Sources

Archives New Zealand (Chch)

Archives New Zealand (Christchurch)

Building Permit Register

Wises Post Office Directories

Wises Post Office Directories

MacDonald Biographies

G.R. MacDonald, Dictionary of Canterbury Biographies, Canterbury Museum, n.d.

New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust

NZHPT File 12313-589

Other Information

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.