Steventon Homestead

550A Whitecliffs Road, Glentunnel

  • Steventon Homestead.
    Copyright: Francis Vallance. Taken By: Francis Vallance. Date: 25/06/2012.
  • .
    Copyright: Francis Vallance. Taken By: Francis Vallance. Date: 25/06/2012.
  • Outbuilding.
    Copyright: Francis Vallance. Taken By: Francis Vallance. Date: 25/06/2012.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 3072 Date Entered 23rd June 1983


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Lot 1 DP 70746 (CT CB40C/1268), Canterbury Land District, and the building known as Steventon Homestead thereon.

City/District Council

Selwyn District


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 70746 (CT CB40C/1268), Canterbury Land District


Developed first as a small cottage built in 1855 and then substantially enlarged in 1866 to become the home of Frederick Broome and his author wife Lady Mary Ann Barker, the Steventon Homestead in Whitecliffs has a significant literary association. It has architectural, archaeological and historical significance.

In 1852 brothers Arthur Charles and Richard C Knight took up land for a sheep station at Whitecliffs and sub-let it in 1855, which is when the cottage was built. The Knights were great nephews of well-known writer Jane Austen and named the station ‘Steventon’ after her father’s vicarage in Hampshire. In February 1866, Richard Knight sold Steventon with 80 acres of freehold to Frederick Napier Broome and Henry Philip Hill, both of whom had been his cadets. In 1865, on a trip to England, Broome had met and married widow Lady Mary Anne Barker. Leaving her sons to be educated in England, Lady Barker embarked on her new life with Broome in New Zealand, arriving in 1865. In 1866, the cottage on the Steventon run was enlarged to become ‘Broomielaw’, the home of the Broomes. This part of the house was ‘pre-cut’ in Christchurch and drayed to the site around February 1866. The couple shifted into the house in April 1866 while it was still being built, eager for their ill infant son to be in the country fresh air but sadly he died soon after.

Located up a long driveway, and set amongst mature trees with an expansive lawn to the south front, Steventon Homestead is a two storeyed weatherboard house with a corrugated steel roof. Its appearance reflects several phases of construction. The original modest cottage, built of timber with clay and tussock infill, is at the core of the house and on the ground floor forms the living room/sitting room. Built around this is the kauri house that Broome had pre-cut in Christchurch, key features of which include a pair of bay windows on the south front that were originally part of gabled wings at the west and north sides, typical of colonial houses in the Victorian era. An upper storey addition of the 1920s has effectively filled in the gabled area, and its overhanging eaves with exposed rafters and first floor porch add an Arts and Crafts flavour.

Although Frederick Broome and his wife, who retained her name Lady Barker, only lived in the house for nearly three years from 1866 until January 1869, this was an active period of writing for them both. As well as running the station, both Broome and Barker shared the routine of writing in the mornings. Broome’s focus was on poetry, while Lady Barker recorded lively accounts of her experiences of life on a sheep station in the early days of colonial Canterbury settlement. In 1870 Lady Barker published the highly successful Station Life in New Zealand, a compilation of the detailed letters she had written, while at Broomielaw, to her younger sister Jessie Stewart. Many of her subsequent publications also dwelt on the vagaries of living on a high country sheep run and general experiences of colonial life in New Zealand.

Broome had sold out to his partner at the end of 1868 and, after he and his wife left for England in January 1869, Hill moved into the house at Whitecliffs. In 1873 it was sold to the Cordy family of Hororata. In 1912 it was sold to George B Starky who, in 1922-23, put the upper storey on the house to accommodate extended family, Mrs Harper, a widow and her three daughters. When the house was purchased by the McArthur family in 1964, it was rather run down and major repairs and alterations were carried out in the 1970s. The property remains in the ownership of McArthur Farming Limited and care has been taken to retain early fabric, interpret and record changes made to the house by its various occupants. Many of the early farm buildings associated with the sheep run survive, in various states of ruin, on the property.


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1855 -
Farm cottage built

1923 -
Upper storey added to house

Alterations and extensive repairs

1866 -
Cottage greatly extended to become homestead known as ‘Broomilaw’

Completion Date

26th October 2016

Report Written By

Robyn Burgess

Information Sources

Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Hankin, Cherry, 'Barker, Mary Anne', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 4-Jun-2013 URL:

Acland, 1946

Acland, L G D, The Early Canterbury Runs: Containing the First, Second and Third (new) Series, Whitcombe and Tombs Limited, Christchurch, 1946

Baker, 1870

Barker, Lady, Station Life in New Zealand, 1870

Other Information

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.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Southern Region Office of Heritage New Zealand.