Historical Significance or Value
Glen Orchard has historical significance for its associations with the early development of colonial farming in the Auckland region, including as part of Major Bunbury’s model farm (1842) and as Lieutenant-General William Taylor’s Glen Orchard estate. It can be considered significant as the retirement residence of Lieutenant-General Taylor, the patriarch of an elite landowning family that developed four agricultural estates on the outskirts of the city of Auckland. Glen Orchard has particular value for its strong connections with Major Charles Taylor, a member of the Legislative Council and first board of the Bank of New Zealand, and his wife Bessie, a stepdaughter of the New Zealand Premier, Alfred Domett. It also has historical significance as part of Auckland’s first stud farm; as the centrepiece of a mid-1880s model seaside suburb that gave rise to modern St Heliers; and for a three and a half-decade association with the families of daughters of respected retired clergyman and medical practitioner, Dr Arthur Guyon Purchas. Glen Orchard was the residence of Benjamin Chilwell, a noted early twentieth century Auckland architect.
Aesthetic Significance or Value:
Glen Orchard can be considered to have aesthetic significance for its grand and elegant appearance, contributed to by its symmetrical form, pronounced eaves, prominent valance verandahs and slender chimneys with flared tops.
Architectural Significance or Value:
Glen Orchard has architectural significance as an uncommon surviving example of an elite rural homestead dating to the 1860s or earlier in the Auckland region. It is also significant as an externally well-preserved Regency-style residence that also incorporates Italianate influences.
Social Significance or Value:
The place has social significance for reflecting the existence of an elite group of British expatriate colonial owners who settled on rural land. The place also has value for illustrating close relationships and associations within family groups and the transfer of property within families. The house and grounds, including a tennis court, also reflect the status, leisure and past times of well-to-do members of suburban society.
(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history
The place reflects the early development of agriculture on the fringe of the colonial capital from the 1840s onwards and the taking up of farm properties by colonial elite with military associations. The place illustrates the concept of chain migration based on close family relationships, and migrant families establishing conjoined farm estates. Glen Orchard reflects the activities of suburban land development interests during the Auckland economic boom of the late 1870s and early 1880s.
(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history
Glen Orchard is the sole Taylor homestead to survive on its original site, of three well-known east Auckland farming estates two of which gave their name to suburbs - Glen Innes and Glendowie. The place has close associations with the St Heliers Land Building and Investment Company which planned the 1880s suburb St Heliers, and which founded tram services serving inner Auckland. Glen Orchard has been the home of a number of notable Auckland families, many for several decades. Foremost are two generations of the Taylor family, prominent in the founding of what became suburbs in West Tamaki and Mt Albert. Two families to own the property consecutively were daughters of eminent Auckland clergyman, church designer and medical practitioner Dr Arthur Guyon Purchas. These were the spouse of Charles Cook, the civil engineer of the St Heliers Land Building and Investment Company; and the wife of Frederic Brookfield a member of a prestigious family legal practice. Glen Orchard was the home of the Honourable Justice Sir Muir Chilwell in his youth, his father prominent Auckland architect Benjamin Chilwell having bought the property as the family home in the late 1920s. The Glen Orchard homestead also has an important familial association with the colonial Mt Albert mansion Alberton, a NZHPT-owned property which was erected in 1863 as the house of Allan Kerr Taylor.
(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place
The place has value as an externally well-preserved example of a substantial mid nineteenth-century colonial farm homestead of two-storey timber construction. The design illustrates strong Regency elements evidenced by symmetrical facades, valance verandahs, and windows with side panels and side glazing. The design is also of value for the incorporation of Italianate influences notably the wide bracketed eaves and the relatively shallow-pitch roof with a centre gutter.
(i) The importance of identifying historic places known to date from early periods of New Zealand settlement
Glen Orchard is important as an early farm homestead, the earliest section of which is believed to date from the decade following the founding of Auckland as colonial capital. The residence replaced an earlier raupo bungalow constructed on the farm property in 1842 by Major Thomas Bunbury, who was the commander of the military support for Governor Hobson.
Summary of Significance or Values
This place was assessed against, and found it to qualify under the following criteria: a, b, g and i.
It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category II historic place.
Early history of the site
The St Heliers locality was an area of considerable activity and settlement in pre-colonial times. West Tamaki’s Taylor Hill (Taurere) was by traditional accounts one of the oldest pa in the Auckland Isthmus. The hill along with surrounding land is said to have been originally occupied by Ngati Titahi. Te Keteanatua, of Tainui lineage and the reputed ancestor of Ngai Tai, was also associated with Taurere. His people intermarried with Te Waiohua, a confederation prominent until the mid eighteenth century. In 1740s, Te Taurere was evidently the first pa taken by Ngati Whatua in their conquest and settlement of the Auckland isthmus. The site of the future Glen Orchard lay within the Kohimarama block, an area subject to Ngati Paoa customary rights. Kohimarama was obtained by the British Crown in 1841 as part of the founding of Auckland as colonial capital in 1840.
Allotment 23, on which Glen Orchard homestead was later built, was part of four 1842 Crown Grants made to Major Thomas Bunbury (1791-1861), the commander of the 80th Regiment which formed military support for Governor Hobson. A raupo bungalow with wide verandahs was built on Bunbury’s holding in November 1842. Fruit trees and other crops were planted on the property, one of the earliest colonial farming enterprises in the West Tamaki area. By Bunbury’s own account, the farm was a show place, a model farm which new immigrants were well advised to visit.
In 1849, following his 1844 departure from New Zealand, Bunbury sold two of his allotments totalling 88 hectares to then Lieutenant Colonel William Taylor (1790-1868) of the East India Company’s Madras Army. Taylor was a son of distinguished Scottish preacher the Reverend William Taylor (1748-1825), Moderator of the General Assembly in 1806 and one of the King’s Chaplains-in-Ordinary for Scotland.
Lieutenant-Colonel Taylor’s nine children were born in India and educated in Scotland. His late wife Barbara (d.1836) was the daughter of General James Innes of the Madras Army and seems to have had family connections with the brothers John and James Innes who farmed in Canterbury. The Innes brothers returned to Scotland in 1878 and 1911 respectively after succeeding to the title of baronet.
Taylor provided each of his six sons with substantial finance to encourage them to settle on the land in a congenial climate rather than take up a military career in India. The eldest of Taylor’s six sons, William Innes (1821-1890), arrived in New Zealand in 1843 and became the first member of the family to buy land on the outskirts of the recently-created colonial capital. He founded his West Tamaki estate, Glen Innes, and in 1846 was joined by his brother Richard James (1829-1883) who established the Glendowie estate nearby.
Lieutenant-Colonel Taylor visited his own Tamaki property at Glen Orchard while in New Zealand briefly in 1854, and retired there in 1857 having attained the rank of Major General. Taylor’s second eldest son, Charles John (1826-1897) who had arrived in New Zealand in 1851, had apparently farmed the holding as well as his own land at Manurewa but was domiciled in Auckland. The three Taylor Glen estates - Glen Innes, Glendowie and Glen Orchard - adjoined one another. Allan Kerr Taylor (1832-1890), the fourth son, bought land at Mt Albert and established the Alberton estate.
Upon their arrival in Auckland, William and Charles quickly became involved in public and political life in the colonial capital. The three brothers William, Charles and Allan were also active in business circles.
Construction of Glen Orchard (circa 1850-5)
Major General William Taylor’s residence, like the earlier one built by Bunbury, was said to be a one-storey bungalow with wide verandahs protecting the main living rooms from the sun. Its date of construction is unknown, but is believed to have been 1850 or 1855. The foundations were made strong enough to support a second storey should one be required, suggesting that the homestead was a new building. A codicil added in 1865 to Taylor’s will, stating that ‘the house was of wood and now old’, however, has given rise to suggestions that Glen Orchard homestead may not have been of entirely new construction in the 1850s and possibly incorporated part of Bunbury’s residence.
The counties of Eden and Manukau formed the earliest colonial agricultural area in the environs of the new capital, and primarily supplied produce to the local market rather than for export. At least until the late 1870s, the chief function of the countryside in the Auckland Province was to produce vegetables, mutton and beef, dairy produce, a little grain and a great deal of hay to meet the needs of local markets. These were primarily the Auckland urban area and lesser townships, the mining and milling towns and bush camps. Glen Orchard is likely to have been farmed in a similar manner to the adjoining properties owned by Taylor’s sons. Cattle and dairy stock were run on Glen Innes estate which also produced potatoes, oats and wheat; while Glendowie was evidently suitable for cattle or sheep. Glen Orchard may also have had similar outbuildings including barns, stables and cart sheds.
In 1865 Major General Taylor was commissioned as a Lieutenant-General, in honour of his almost 50 years of service chiefly in India, where as a Brigadier, he commanded the Sangor and Nurbudda Districts from 1849 until 1855. He died at his home Glen Orchard on 27 June 1868, and was the first person to be interred in the Tamaki West Churchyard.
Addition of second storey, or new construction (circa 1868)
Fulfilling his father’s wish, Charles Taylor purchased the Glen Orchard estate at half the projected £4000 price on account of the defective state of the main house. Charles was commissioned a Captain in the Auckland Regiment in 1863 and became a Major in the New Zealand Militia in 1871.
Captain Taylor appears to have renovated Glen Orchard homestead by adding a second storey, rather than constructing a new residence. Differences in levels and heights of the upper floors and ceilings led a later owner, architect Benjamin Chilwell (1880?-1950), to believe that the homestead had been built in two or more stages. The inadequacy of floor joists on part of the upper floor was attributed to their original function as ceiling joists in the one storey home.
The two-storey residence was of Regency style with strongly symmetrical facades. It also incorporated Italianate influences, evident in its wide bracketed eaves and relatively shallow roof pitch which was achieved by the incorporation of a centre gutter. The residences on the three adjoining estates of the Taylor brothers were notable for their similarity as Georgian-influenced two storey homesteads of symmetrical design and an imposing appearance enhanced by wide, single-storey, wrap-around verandahs.
Charles Taylor’s dwelling had two similar facades: looking north over the St Heliers Bay; and east. The return valance verandah may also have extended along a third (south) elevation. The Regency-style windows on both floors were a feature of some larger cottages in New Zealand in the 1840s and 1850s and enjoyed a renaissance from the 1870s until after 1900.
Following its conversion into a more fashionable residence, Glen Orchard contained a drawing room, dining room, breakfast room, four bedrooms, nursery and kitchen. A dairy may or may not have been part of the house. Various means of conveyance, harnesses, and farm equipment including drays, ploughs, mowers and hay rakes are likely to have been housed in stables and other outbuildings.
Taylor’s wife, Bessie, employed domestic help - a maid, a cook, and a resident governess - to manage the household and the care and education of her five children. Bessie was a stepdaughter of New Zealand Premier Alfred Domett (1811-1887), an advocate of both secular education and land confiscation, who had overseen decisions to relocate the colonial capital from Auckland to Wellington (which occurred in 1865). Alfred Domett was a published writer with associations to the English poet Robert Browning. In 1869, Taylor was appointed a lifetime member of the country’s Upper House, the Legislative Council, joining his father-in-law who had been appointed to the same body in 1866. Glen Orchard was evidently honoured by a visit from the Duke of Edinburgh, probably in 1870 when he was in Auckland ‘strictly in his capacity as a Post-Captain of Her Majesty’s Navy’.
In 1871, Taylor added land to the estate but four years later sold the entire holding including Lincoln sheep recently imported from Melbourne breeders. Taylor, a director of the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company and a member of the first board of the Bank of New Zealand (1861), also had a substantial share portfolio, property at Remuera and coal lands in the Waikato. Following his retirement from the Legislative Council in 1878, he and his family retired permanently to London.
Subsequent use and modifications
The Glen Orchard property was purchased in 1877 by Samuel Morrin, a co-owner of the large Auckland ironmongery firm T & S Morrin. Morrin was also an original shareholder in the Auckland or Glen Orchard Stud Company, which bred racehorses. Founded in 1879, the Glen Orchard stud is considered to have been Auckland’s first stud farm.
The homestead, sold separately in 1880, was subsequently purchased along with the rest of its former estate by the St Heliers Land Building and Investment Company in February 1882. Glen Orchard Bay was renamed St Heliers after the capital of the British island of Jersey which was said to overlook a similar landform. The company, one of several suburban land enterprises established during Auckland’s economic boom of the late 1870s and early 1880s, embarked upon the development of a model seaside suburb. Reduced to a 2.5 hectare site, Glen Orchard became the centrepiece of a distinctive circular layout prepared by land surveyor G. H. A. Purchas, establishing the underlying street layout of modern St Heliers.
To attract prospective purchasers, a wharf was constructed in St Heliers for a ferry service to downtown Auckland. The company had developed the first stage of Auckland City’s horse tram service by August 1884, but unable to postpone section sales until a tramway reached St Heliers, auctioned sites in late 1884 and early 1885. By this time Glen Orchard, earlier occupied by ferry captain Joseph Lucas Clark, had become the home of the company’s civil engineer Charles Edward Cooke. Cooke’s tenancy founded the homestead’s three and a half-decade association with members of Auckland’s well-known Purchas family.
Cooke’s wife was a daughter of medical practitioner Dr Arthur Guyon Purchas (1821-1906). Dr Purchase was a retired Anglican clergyman, a director of the development company, and the father of the land surveyor. A polymath and ecclesiologist who designed two Auckland churches, Purchas invented what is said to have been the first machine for the preparation of New Zealand flax. His interest in the St Heliers venture is likely to have stemmed from an ongoing interest in proposals for the provision of public utilities.
Cook sold Glen Orchard to his sister-in-law Sarah Edith Brookfield (1845?-1927) nee Purchas in 1890. Sarah’s solicitor husband Frederic Brookfield (1855-1932) was a member of the Anglican Synod and of the Bishop’s Court. By the turn of the century St Heliers was a settlement of 20 permanent houses and a number of baches, attracting about 3,500 visitors at public holidays.
Continuing Dr Purchas’ tradition of invention and his interest in utilities, the Brookfields installed a private power plant in the homestead grounds, a decade or more before reticulated electricity reached St Heliers in 1922. Architect Benjamin Chilwell became owner of the property in 1927 almost a decade after Glen Orchard’s association with the Purchas family ended in 1919.
At the time of Chilwell’s occupation of Glen Orchard, the slate-roofed residence had six rooms on each floor, and gas and electricity reticulation. A billiard room and a lounge (each with a fireplace) opened onto the north-facing verandah. An L-shaped hall ran from the front door, half the length of the house to a staircase located between two living rooms within the south side of the building. The westernmost room had a fireplace and opened into a porch and the kitchen. A scullery occupied part of the verandah. On the first floor were four large bedrooms, a box room, and a sewing room. The two southern bedrooms and box room were located at a lower level than the two bedrooms and sewing room on the north side of the house, a configuration noted by Chilwell as suggesting more than one construction phase. An enclosed porch within a verandah on the south side of the first floor accommodated a lavatory.
English-born Chilwell, the father of Honourable Justice Sir Muir Chilwell, had arrived in New Zealand in circa 1907. He practised architecture locally for 40 years, after 1914 as a partner of Chilwell and Trevithick a firm noted for buildings including commercial premises on Auckland’s Queen Street and environs. The opening of Tamaki Drive in 1931 brought accelerating suburban growth and the development of St Heliers’ village centre. Over the ensuing years Chilwell, like earlier twentieth-century owners of the property, subdivided the Glen Orchard holding into several residential sites.
Alterations made to Glen Orchard during the Chilwells’ two-and-a-half-decade tenure included installation of a downstairs toilet in 1938, within a small addition on the south side of the house. A bathroom was developed in the enclosed upstairs porch at this time. It is not known whether the classical detailing on the verandah was part of the late-1860s second storey addition or a feature introduced by Chilwell. The Brookfield electrical wiring remained in use. Two large pre-1914 corrugated iron sheds to the south of the house were demolished by circa 1948.
An asphalt tennis court was formed in the grounds north of house at an unknown date during the Second World War (1939-45). Played in the private grounds of those with sufficient land to accommodate a court, tennis encouraged socialising and physical fitness. Players could include those of middle age and older, and the elderly could enjoy the game as a spectator sport watched from the verandah or garden.
Shell paths, which may have been a longstanding feature, and a drive were also in place by 1945. Brick terraced steps flanked by a pair of classical columns topped by urns, descended from the north verandah to the tennis court area. Some of the trees in the grounds were said to potentially date from the 1840s, with one particular holly believed to be the only one of its kind in New Zealand. The Chilwells’ tenure ended in 1952, after which time the building occupying a reduced site of approximately 1.2 hectares passed into other private hands.
A single-storey addition made in 1962-3 incorporated an existing rear lean-to as part of a two-bedroom flat. A car port was added to the southeast corner of the house and the homestead was renovated. One of the bedrooms was converted into two. The site was further subdivided and in 1976 attained its current area of around 3700 square metres. Difference in levels and heights of the upper floors and ceilings were evidently altered at an unknown date between 1974 and 1982. The first floor layout was further modified in 1984 to provide dressing rooms and further bathroom facilities. At an unknown date, two pairs of doors were installed in the partition wall on either side of the drawing room fireplace on the ground floor. This enabled the drawing room and the former billiard room to be use as one space.
By 1990 Glen Orchard was the only one of the Taylors’ three grand Tamaki homesteads to survive on its original site. Glendowie, erected by 1864, was relocated to Franklin. Glenn Innes, erected in circa 1849, had been demolished in circa 1930. Along with Alberton built for Allan Kerr Taylor in circa 1863 (now a NZHPT property), Glen Orchard survives as one of two colonial homesteads built by one of Auckland’s early elite landed families that are still on their original site.
Glen Orchard remains in use as a private residence.
Glen Orchard lies on the north-facing slopes of a natural amphitheatre overlooking the commercial centre of St Heliers, and the Waitemata Harbour. St Heliers, an inner suburb located to the east of Auckland’s city centre, is the easternmost of a number of small beaches on Tamaki Drive. St Heliers Bay Road is the major inland route from the suburbs of St Johns and Kohimarama to St Heliers Bay.
Within the suburbs to the west are buildings associated with early Anglican educational institutions. The stone Melanesian Mission Building (Record no. 111, Category I historic place) was erected in 1859 for the Christian education of Melanesian boys at Mission Bay in Kohimarama. The Chapel and Dining Hall of the College of St John the Evangelist (Record nos. 13 and 14, Category I historic places) in Meadowbank are survivors from the original college buildings erected between 1845 and 1850 as part of a complex modelled on the colleges of Oxford or Cambridge.
The information in this and the following section of the report has been compiled from archival plans and images, a recent aerial image and street views from Google Earth.
Glen Orchard occupies an irregularly-shaped site of almost 0.4 hectares surrounded by modern residential development. Lying behind other properties, the homestead is served by two drives but is not readily visible from the street.
The two-storey timber dwelling is obliquely orientated on the uppermost of two terraces, on a sloping, north-facing site. A generously-sized vehicle manoeuvring area to the east of the house is linked to the street by a tree-lined driveway. The grounds to the north are laid out with a terrace, lawns and a sealed tennis court. Plantings include mature trees screening the perimeter.
The square symmetrical footprint of the nineteenth-century homestead has been extended by two early-1960s single-storey additions. These are a hip-roofed, weatherboard clad residential unit at the west end of the north elevation; and garaging at the south end of the east elevation.
The Regency-style residence is clad with weatherboards and incorporates aspects of the classical and romantic tradition found in Italianate architecture. Notable Regency features are its rectangular shape, symmetrical facades, margin-glazing within window sashes, single-storey verandahs and a bay window, and a door case which includes side lights and a fanlight. Glen Orchard contrasts with contemporary colonial buildings of the time and specifically incorporates Italianate design elements - wide bracketed eaves and the relatively shallow roof pitch - that appear in some Regency architecture. The house has a hipped, slate roof with a centre gutter. The roofs of additions and verandahs are clad with corrugated metal. The house has slender, brick chimneys which are finished with elegantly flared tops.
Glen Orchard has similar symmetrical north- and east-facing facades linked by a single-storey valance verandah. A former verandah on the southeast side of the house and the associated enclosed upstairs verandah level, have largely been incorporated into the internal floor layout. The single-storey valance verandah has supports with classical capitals, and a low parapet incorporating dentils. It is not known whether this detailing is associated with the circa 1868 second-storey addition or is a later modification.
Internally, the nineteenth-century portion of Glen Orchard consists of two floors connected by a staircase located within the southern part of the building. The staircase is located towards the end of a half-length open-plan hall.
On the ground floor (adjoining the single-storey addition designed as a residential flat) the two north-facing rooms of the nineteenth-century building appear to have fireplaces. These rooms are interconnected and open onto a verandah overlooking well-established grounds. The verandah returns across the east elevation, sheltering the centrally located front entrance.
The main entrance of the residence is located in the east façade and opens into a central hall. Beyond the hall arch, a staircase within the south side of the house provides access to the upper level. The room to the left immediately inside the main entrance is lit by a Regency-style double hung window, a form also found in other ground floor rooms and on the upper floor. The large living room to the right of the main entrance has an east-facing bay window within an alcove framed by pilasters and classical entablature. In 1990, modest skirtings of a Regency height as well as more elaborate skirting mouldings of a later era were still in place. The Regency-style skirtings were noted in the central room (west of the staircase) on the ground floor, as though an earlier part of a building had been subsumed. Photographs published in a 1970s newspaper article suggest that the walls and ceilings may have been relined.
At the end of the half-length hall is a dining room (1984 nomenclature) which opens into the original kitchen area and which appears to have a fireplace. A small room and a toilet may occupy the southeast portion of the ground floor within what was formerly verandah space.
Within the south side of the house the staircase rises to three consecutive landings, providing access to bedroom accommodation. Available floor plans suggest the presence of five habitable rooms and a bathroom upstairs. Two of the main rooms also have ensuite bathrooms. Extensive modifications to the layout raise uncertainty as to the extent of survival of early joinery and fixtures.
1850 - 1855
Single-storey bungalow (possibly incorporating part of an earlier structure)
1962 - 1963
Single-story lean-to incorporated into new residential unit addition (ground floor); south verandah enclosed for bathroom; bedroom converted into two (first floor)
1974 - 1982
Levels and heights of the upper floors and ceilings?
Two rooms converted to ensuite and dressing rooms; bathroom converted to an ensuite and a bathroom (first floor)
Addition of second storey
Toilet and hand basin provided within part of south verandah (ground floor); bathroom provided in enclosed upstairs porch south verandah (first floor)
1962 - 1963
Single-story, two-bedroom unit; carport
Concrete block foundations; timber construction and weatherboard cladding; slate roof (house), metal roof (verandahs and residential unit addition)
14th September 2010
Report Written By
Richard Apperley, Robert Irving and Peter Reynolds, A Pictorial Guide to Identifying Australian Architecture: Styles and Terms from 1788 to the Present, Sydney, 1989
Una Platts, The Lively Capital: Auckland 1840-1865, Christchurch, 1971
Jeremy Salmond, Old New Zealand Houses 1800-1940, Auckland, 1986, Reed Methuen
Paul Moon, The Struggle for Tamaki Makaurau: The Maori Occupation of Auckland to 1820, Auckland, 2007
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.