44-46 Margot Street, Epsom, Auckland

  • Gazebo.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust.
  • .
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Martin Jones. Date: 18/01/2005.
  • .
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Martin Jones. Date: 18/01/2005.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2625 Date Entered 24th June 2005


Extent of List Entry

Registration includes part of the land shown in CT NA763/288 (as shown on Map C in Appendix 4), and the gazebo, its fittings and fixtures, thereon. The area of registration extends

City/District Council

Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)


Auckland Council

Legal description

Part of Allot 11 Sec 11 Suburbs of Auckland (CT NA763/288)


The gazebo was originally erected as part of an early colonial Auckland property owned by the prominent lawyer Edwin Hesketh and his family in the late 1800s. It was built sometime between 1884 and 1899, as a focal point in the landscaped gardens of St John's Wood or Hesketh House. The property covered 2.4 hectares (6 acres), containing a very large two-storey residence of Italianate design. The grounds included a formal landscaped area in front of the house, in which the gazebo was located, and a 0.8 hectare (2 acre) orchard to the rear with vineries and arbours.

Landscaped gardens became increasingly popular during the nineteenth century in Britain and its associated colonies, as a wealthy middle class sought to emulate the grounds of aristocratic houses, albeit on a smaller scale. Garden structures, including gazebos, were common features in such grounds, ornamenting the landscape as well as fulfilling functional roles. Gazebos, or summer houses, provided shelter from the elements and a focus for perambulation, allowing enjoyment of the gardens from somewhere other than the main residence. As decorative elements reflecting passive leisured activity, they also came to be seen as symbols of gentility.

Representative of its kind, the gazebo was designed as a small, free-standing structure, intended to stand out among its surroundings. It opened towards the north, providing a sunny and sheltered place to look out over the extensive lawn surrounded by mature trees. Its architectural style, in part, mirrors that of Hesketh House, although with greater ornamental embellishment and flourish. Access to the house via a gated driveway from Margot (then known as Williamson) Street involved passing through the total length of the lawned grounds, with a full view of the summer house.

By 1899, Hesketh House itself contained eight bedrooms, with servants' quarters, a school room and an organ chamber, as well as reception rooms and service rooms. Several sources mention that it was built for the Hesketh family shortly after they purchased the property in 1874 and named it 'St John's Wood'. However, there is a likelihood that part of the structure was built at an earlier date than this. Prior to Hesketh purchasing the property, the land was part of a 11.6 hectare (29 acre) block originally bought by Charles Moffitt. It was then bought by Thomas Crummer, followed by James Williamson, before Henry Hardington purchased it in 1859 and subdivided it into smaller sections, one of which was sold to Hesketh.

Edwin Hesketh was a prominent barrister in early Auckland. Born in Manchester in 1843, he came to New Zealand with his family in 1859. He began practicing law in 1865 and started his own law firm, Hesketh Richmond & Co., in 1870. The Auckland Weekly News noted in 1886, that '[s]ince Mr. Hesketh commenced practice at the bar he has been engaged in almost all the heavy and important cases that have come before our courts'. Hesketh's firm is still in practice today, under the name Hesketh Henry, and is one of the largest law firms in Auckland.

Hesketh had a long and close association with the Anglican Church, and particularly with St. Mark's Church in Remuera Road. He was the organist and often choirmaster for 30 years, from 1863 to 1893. He was also a generous benefactor of the church as well as being vestryman, synodsman and Chancellor of the Diocese. Hesketh died at St. John's Wood in 1898 and was buried in St Mark's churchyard.

The architectural design of the gazebo not only reflects the style of Hesketh's Italianate residence, but also the Gothic appearance of many Anglican churches in the Auckland region. St Mark's itself employed a more restrained form of Gothic Revival, although its interior was ornate. Then highly ornamental Carpenter Gothic version of Gothic Revival was generally reserved for residential structures, as at Highwic in Newmarket, Auckland.

Several years after Hesketh's death, in 1903, the Diocesan Board purchased the property from his estate for £4,250. The Diocesan High School for Girls was established by Bishop Neligan to provide a religious education for girls in Auckland. As part of the new school complex, the gazebo continued to provide a focus for recreational activities. School photos were taken in front of the gazebo for many years and the lawns around the gazebo were converted into tennis courts for a time. Old girls tell stories of climbing up into the ceiling of the structure and hiding there when they were very small. It is possible that the gazebo was retained for its aesthetic appearance and as a symbol of gentility, appropriate for an Anglican girls' school. The school's influential first headmistress, Mary Pulling (1871-1951), aimed to create an institution that drew from a specifically New Zealand Anglican inheritance, and she was herself particularly interested in architecture and design.

Modifications were made to the gazebo during the twentieth century, including the removal of doors and window glass. Photographs from the 1930s show that there were leadlight lattice panes in the openings of the gazebo. At this time, the larger arched openings held casement windows, while the smaller apertures contained fixed panes. The main entrance had bifold doors, with leadlight lattice glass in the top half. The windows and doors were removed in the 1940s.

Today, the gazebo remains an important feature of the school. It is still located in its original position, although mounted on a concrete footing since the original timber floor rotted in the 1960s. The building was restored in 2002-2003 and remains in very good condition. The structure is believed to be one of very few nineteenth-century gazebos to survive in the Auckland region, and appears to be an unusual remnant of its type in New Zealand. A small number of gazebos have previously been registered by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, including the Elderslie Gazebo in the Oamaru Public Gardens (NZHPT Register # 7150, Category II historic place) dating to circa 1860, and another at Seatoun, Wellington, (NZHPT Register # 3651, Category II historic place) dating to circa 1903.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The structure has historical value for its association with a prominent Auckland family and the development of a substantial nineteenth-century house and garden complex.

The gazebo has aesthetic value for its visually striking and ornate appearance, which is enhanced by its garden setting. It is architecturally significant as one of few nineteenth-century gazebos believed to survive in Auckland and the country at large. The building is also architecturally significant for its unusual fusion of Italianate and Carpenter Gothic styles.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history

The gazebo reflects representative aspects of New Zealand history, including the importance of landscaped gardens and leisured activity in wealthy nineteenth-century households.

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history

The gazebo is connected with Edwin Hesketh, a prominent lawyer in early Auckland society.

(e)The community association with, or public esteem for, the place

The structure has been a significant landmark within the educational community at the Diocesan School, Auckland for over 100 years.

(g)The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place

The gazebo is of striking design, unusually fusing Italianate and Gothic Revival architectural styles.

(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places

The building is believed to be a comparatively rare surviving example of a nineteenth-century

gazebo in New Zealand.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape

The gazebo forms an integral part of a wider historical complex, as part of the residence and garden of Edwin Hesketh. The residence and garden plantings, such as mature trees, survive. The gazebo is also part of an early twentieth-century educational landscape, influenced by Anglican religious principles. Other surviving elements include St Barnabas' Chapel, relocated onto the site in the early 1900s.


Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

The gazebo is located in the grounds of the Diocesan School, Epsom, an inner suburb to the east of Auckland city centre. The structure is a remnant of a nineteenth century house and garden complex, which was purchased by the Diocesan School in the early twentieth century. The gazebo lies on flat ground, on the southern side of a large lawned area in front of the main entrance to the former St John's Wood or Hesketh House (now known as School House). The house is a large building with an Italianate frontage, erected as a grand family residence, and is currently used for school administration.

The gazebo is a small timber structure of ornate design. It has an unusual and distinctive appearance, combining Italianate and Carpenter Gothic architectural styles. The gazebo is octagonal in plan, with four longer sides alternating with four shorter sides. It originally had a timber floor, but is currently set in a concrete base at ground level. The main access to the interior is through an open archway in the northern wall of the structure, which is flanked by open windows. There are no windows or other apertures in the southern part of the building. A timber bench runs along the internal walls.

The highly ornamental octagonal roof is of Carpenter Gothic design. It is steeply pitched with gablets at the four shorter sides of the building. The current roofing material is marine ply. A large timber finial sits on the apex of the roof, with four smaller finials on top of each gablet. There is ornamental fretwork on every gablet ridge and at the base of the main finial. The gablet fronts contain cut-away ornamentation in the form of individual stars.

The main walls of the structure are of Italianate design, mirroring the formal frontage of St John's Wood/Hesketh House. Heavily bracketed eaves support the roof, while repaired holes on the eastern side of the gazebo suggest that it once had spouting and guttering. The structure has round-arched openings of Italianate style, with walls made up of vertical tongue-and-groove planking. The internal ceiling similarly consists of tongue-and-groove boards, and contains a partly-infilled circular ventilator.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
Date unknown, between 1884 and 1899

Windows removed

Wooden floor replaced with concrete base

2002 - 2003
Roof replaced, structure repaired, star decoration in gablets filled in.

Construction Details

Timber, with concrete base.

Information Sources

Auckland Public Libraries

Auckland Public Libraries

Auckland Scrapbook, February 1965, p.290, May 1964, p.194; George S. Goldsbro, 'St John's Wood, Epsom: The Residence of the late Edwin Hesketh', sale notice for W.S. Cochrane, 1899?, Special Collections, C 995.1117bje

Auckland Weekly News Supplement

Auckland Weekly News Supplement

1 May 1886, p.6

Hammer, 2003

Margaret Hammer, Follow Your Star: Diocesan School for Girls, Auckland 1903-2003, Auckland, 2003.

New Zealand Herald

New Zealand Herald, 12 July 1932, p. 6; 28 September 1933, p. 6.

17 June 1965, p.250

New Zealand Herald Monthly Summary

New Zealand Herald Monthly Summary

5 August 1898, p.4

One Tree Hill Borough Council, 1989

One Tree Hill Borough Council, In the Shadow of Maungakiekie: A History of One Tree Hill and its Environs from Pre-Maori Times to 1989, Auckland, 1989.

Reid, 1982

Hilary F. Reid, St Mark's Remuera 1847-1981: The Story of a Parish, Auckland, 1982.

Southern Cross

Southern Cross

22 July 1859

Other Information

A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT Northern 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.