Englefield Historic Area

Avon River & Avonside, Fitzgerald, Hanmer & Elm, Christchurch

  • Englefield Historic Area. Plan of Historic Area from registration report..
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Date: 6/04/2001.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Area Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7484 Date Entered 6th April 2001


Extent of List Entry

The area comprises the houses contained in the block bounded by the Avon River, Avonside Drive, Fitzgerald Avenue, and all of Hamner St and Elm Grove.

City/District Council

Christchurch City


Canterbury Region


This historic area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. This report includes text from the original Historic Area Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.


The Historic Area illustrates the growth of Christchurch with the successive subdivision of a large original Rural Section into smaller lots. This area is unique in that it still contains the original house, Englefield Lodge, erected by the owner William Guise Brittan in 1856 and some of its plantings. The rest of the Historic Area contains a range of dwellings from worker's cottages of the 1860's (some of which are now being gentrified) through to larger houses built at the time of the last subdivision in the 1920s.

In addition to this clear progression of architectural styles and architectural history the original block of land was the site of many significant events and an early brewery (the successor still stands nearby). The stretch of the Avon River alongside was the scene of both Maori river traffic and European rowing and regattas.

As well as the townscape aspect of surviving dwellings from all periods of subdivision, the area itself has a substantial history extremely closely connected with the establishment of Christchurch following the model proposed by the Canterbury Association. There is also the significance of William Guise Brittan, the first owner of the still existing Englefield Lodge. He epitomises the ideal colonist, totally committed to the establishment of the Canterbury settlement and deeply involved in every aspect of colonial life and management.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

This historic area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. This report includes text from the original Historic Area Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Historical Significance: The association of the place with events. persons. or ideas of importance in New Zealand history:


Cricket: Brittan organised Christchurch's first Cricket Club and early games were played here on Englefield farm. In 1874 he was acknowledged as having been the "Father of Cricket in Canterbury" and was presented with a clock to mark his contribution to the sport's development.

Rowing: The particular stretch of the Avon River which Brittan's Rural Section 26 fronted, has strong associations with the development of rowing as a sport in Canterbury. Brittan planted the first willow tree in this area and others soon followed and quickly became well established giving the part of the river the name "The Willows". In 1864 rowing clubs were established directly in front of Englefield Lodge and the many events which followed were all promoted as taking place at "The


Golf: E.C.J. Stevens established a 4 hole golf course at Englefield in 1868, the first known in Canterbury. Players went around it four times.


William Guise Brittan (1809 -1876) Born in Bristol, Brittan trained as a doctor-surgeon and served on the General Palmer on its trips to the Far East. He married Louisa Chandler in 1842 and shifted to Sherborne where he and his brother Joseph, also a doctor- surgeon, abandoned their profession to become co-proprietors of the Yeovil Flyer and Sherborne Mercury. He was very interested in the Canterbury Association from its inception, was the first to register his name as a buyer in January 1850 and was elected Chairman of the Society of Canterbury Colonists, April 24th 1850. He was placed in charge of the Colonists' Rooms established by the Association at No.1 Adelphi Square, London, becoming the man to whom potential colonists referred for information about the planned settlement. Within a few days of arrival in the province in December 1850 he was appointed by Sir John Grey and John Godley as Commissioner of Crown Lands in charge of the Land Office and was again elected as Chairman of the Colonists' Society in January 1851. From February 16th 1851 he supervised the allocation of "Orders of Choice", the process by which colonists selected their land purchases. In 1856 he was made Commissioner of Crown Lands and Treasurer of the Waste Lands Board.

Brittan was very active in all community affairs, serving as a magistrate and on various Boards. He promoted and supported the establishment of Holy Trinity Anglican Church at Avonside and donated the land for St Paul's Church at Papanui. He was altogether a very influential early colonists who contributed a great deal to the establishment of the province both in his professional and commercial work as well as in social activities. He was involved with the Horticultural Society, the Agricultural Society, Masonic Lodge, Roads Boards, Christ's College, and the Education Board. He founded a shipping business on the Avon River, was in partnership in a brickworks and in timber milling, he developed the Halswell Quarry and the Lincoln Road tramway and a part of his property fronting the Avon was the site of Canterbury's first brewery.

An indication of his character is illustrated by his choice by John Deans of Riccarton to be an executor of his will.

E.C.T. Stevens: Another early colonist, Stephens purchased Rural Section 26 from Brittan in 1868 and lived in Englefield Lodge until his death in 1915. He was a prominent estate agent, legislative councillor and president of many organisations including the Christchurch Rowing Club and the Christchurch Gentlemen's Club.

J.T. Collins: When Steven's wife died in 1921 Englefield itself was purchased by J.T Collins a distinguished architect of the firm established by William Armson.

This historic area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. This report includes text from the original Historic Area Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Architectural Significance:

Within this area is a range of dwellings which illustrate the development of Christchurch from the earliest days of settlement until the l930s. The historic area demonstrates the pattern of settlement ranging from the large landowner's home (Englefield Lodge) to small cottages for workers and the later inner city gentrification. Also demonstrated is the change in the landscape itself, through the introduction of new species like the superb copper beech and mulberry tree as well as the willows along the riverside.

1. 230 Fitzgerald Avenue, Englefield Lodge. (1855/6):

William Guise Brittan, one of the Canterbury 'pilgrims' who arrived here in

December 1850, purchased three 50 acre rural blocks; No 5 at Papanui Bush, which was swampy ground with a stand of timber designated from the beginning to be cut for housing; No 26, the farm land which he called Englefield; and No 41 which he purchased on behalf of his nephew, Charles Fooks, who arrived in June 1851 (R.S 26 is documented as being sold by the Canterbury Association to Brittan on 2/06/1851 for £150.)

Brittan first lived on Oxford Terrace diagonally opposite the Land Office, but as early as 1852 when his sons were enrolled for Christ's College, their address was given as Englefield. A small dwelling had been erected here and when Henry Sewell arrived in Canterbury in February 1853 he visited the property to see the flourishing farm and had tea with Brittan. The present house was built c.1855/6 and the whole family

resided here from that date.

In 1864 Brittan sold the block of land (3 acres, 2 roods) on which Englefield Lodge stood for 2,000 pounds. A number of transactions followed until 1869 when Legislative Councillor E.C.J Stevens acquired the property, formally purchasing it in 1872. His widow retained it after his death in 1915 and it was sold in 1922 to J.J. Collins who subdivided the property further, retaining Englefield Lodge on its present 1 rood, 24 perches.

There has been conjecture that the house may have been designed by Benjamin Mountfort, but this is rejected by the authority on Mountfort, Dr Ian Lochhead, and it now seems more likely that Brittan's nephew, Charles Fooks, was the designer. It is a 12 roomed, one and a half storeyed residence with a slate roof. The ground floor is constructed of brick, the upper floor of cob and all of the interior has a lathe and

plaster finish. The 23ft by 16 ft (7m by 4.88m) drawing room features a high barrel vaulted ceiling divided into five bays by shaped timber ribs rising from pilasters with simple gothic capitals and bases. This vaulted space was originally braced on the exterior by timber buttresses. These were replaced in 1922 by brick buttresses when architect J.J Collins owned the property and it was probably about this date that the

brickwork was stuccoed. The chimney accents, steeply pitched roof and varied gables provide a romantic, Gothic appearance. Each gable is decorated with half timbering and framed by simply curved barge boards.

The original entrance was from the north fronting Avonside Drive with the carriageway circling to the west to the house's principal entrance, a recessed doorway under the large central gable. The dining room features a square bay window to the north and opened to a small timber framed conservatory through french doors to the west. About 1922 J.J Collins was responsible for reconstructing the conservatory as a sun-porch in brick as it had become very dilapidated.

The house has great architectural significance as a very rare survivor from the earliest years of settlement. In Canterbury there are Deans cottage (Cat.I), 1843 the first house on the plains, retained as a house museum, the Langlois-Etevenaux Cottage (Cat.I) at Akaroa, c.1844, now part of Akaroa museum and Grubbb Cottage (Cat.II) original section 1851, at Lyttelton. In Christchurch there are the Pegasus Building

(Cat.II) begun 1851 ,now a restaurant/bar, the Parkerson House at Sumner (Cat.II) 1852 and Chokebore Lodge (Cat.I) 1856. The Parkerson house is the only one of these still functioning as a private residence, so Englefield Lodge joins it as a special example. In 1856 it was in the form it is in now, unlike some of the other older buildings which had major additions made. Today it remains very intact in its overall appearance, apart from the minor changes described earlier. In its size and style it was a notable building when completed, and represents the early aspirations of a prominent citizen with a strong belief in the future of the province.

2. 28 Elm Grove. (1867) and No 26 (1871):

Although some blocks of land had been sold previously the first subdivision of RS 26 was made by George Hanmer in 1865 (D.RP 1888) with the first lots sold in January 1866. Lot 28, was purchased on 13/8/66 by T. Hazard, cab proprietor for £60. Hazard raised two mortgages on the property shortly after this date and it is assumedthat the house was built by 1867. This is now No. 28 Elm Grove.

The neighbouring block, Lot 27 was sold for £55 to Charles Wood, painter, on 20/1/66. It is now No. 26 Elm Grove. Wood raised a mortgage for £100 in 1871, suggesting that his house at No 26 Elm Grove was built at about that date. In 1882 Hazard purchased Wood's property and continued ownership of both houses until his death in 1938. It was not until 1955 that the two properties went out of the Hazard family ownership and they were purchased by Percy Norrell a cycle mechanic. The two properties are still jointly owned.

The cottages are very similar in style. They are single storeyed, of timber construction with verandahs across the street frontage. The simple pitched roofs are clad in corrugated iron and they are planned symmetrically with the central front door flanked by the sash windows of the two front rooms. There would originally have been just four rooms with a central hallway in these cottages. About the 1920s an addition was made to the end of No.26, extending it to connect with No 28 and unbalancing the symmetrical frontage.

3. 17 and 11 Hanmer Street. (C.1873):

Lot 30 of the Hanmer subdivision, consisting of 21 perches, was sold in 1872 for £55 to George Wells, a cabman who raised a mortgage for £100 a year later. The property remained in the ownership of the Wells family unti11910 when it was sold to Harriet Brown, the wife of a Sydenhmn draper for £202 pound. The two cottages which now stand at Nos 17 and 11 Hanmer street were probably built about 1873,

soon after George Wells raised his mortgage. The section was subdivided in 1921 giving 8.6 perches to No. 17 and 12.4 perches to No. 11 Further owners of No. 13 have been a clerk and a plumber until 1987 when the cottage's historic character has attracted a sales representatives and an artist.

No 17 is very similar in plan and appearance to the earlier cottages in Elm Grove, but it has been considerably altered over the years and may never have featured a verandah. No 11, with its hipped roof reflects the influence of colonial regency styling. It has remained in its original form apart from some changes at the rear to what was a lean to scullery. In plan and construction it remains typical of these small early cottages.

4. 28 Hanmer Street. (c.1887):

Lot 28 was sold by Hanmer 9/3/76 to John Murphy, carter for £80 and he sold it to Jane, wife of John Storrier, ploughman, for 100 pound in 1881. It seems probable that Storrier built the present cottage soon after he raised a mortgage for £100 in 1887. Later owners' occupations have been teacher, contractor, painter, and pensioner. Only a little later in date than those cottages earlier described, this example has a slightly higher stud height and the verandah connection varies, but it is basically very similar.

Information from Wise's Directories show that sections from this first subdivision were taken up quite quickly and that most had buildings on them by the 1870s. By the 1880s the pattern of residents or owners was set, with occupations listed as carpenter, carter, gardener, boot maker, labourer, painter, upholsterer, clerk, nurse and widow. Many of the owners, like the Hazzards and the Wells, remained in possession for a long time, whereas there are others where occupation changed very

frequently, suggesting they were being rented. Some of the dwellings were just two roomed, others had four with the scullery in a rear lean-to. All are of timber with corrugated iron roofing and most feature rusticated weather boarding for the frontage with lapped weather boards for the less visible external walls. Decoration was minimal but a few have curving barge boards, finials and detailed verandah posts.

5, 28 Avonside Drive ( 1902):

Lots 58 and 59 of Hanmer's 1865 subdivision fronted the Avon River and were purchased in 1889 by H Dunnage (of Avonside, Gentleman). Several of the sections from this subdivision were purchased as an investment and no building took place for some time. What was lot 58, consisting of just 18 perches, was sold in 1901 to Annie Fowler, wife of Walter Fowler, carpenter, for £120. Now No 28 Avonside Drive, the house was probably built immediately as the property was sold again in

February 1902 to Walter Yippley a schoolmaster, for £528, with Yippley taking over a £400 mortgage.

Here we see the villa influence on the styling of this rather larger and grander house over looking the river. Wise's directories indicate that residents in this part of the historic area had occupations reflecting higher incomes, like engineer or hair salon proprietor.

6,220 Fitzgerald Avenue ( 1922):

When J.J Collins purchased Englefield Lodge in 1921 the last subdivision of this proposed historic area was made. Sections were now sold along the remaining frontage of Avonside Drive and along Fitzgerald Avenue. Lot 9, a 35.5 perch section at No. 220 Fitzgerald Avenue, was purchased in 1922 by George Cooper a company

secretary, who built the house at that time. It remained in his ownership until 1969.

Although this house has undergone some changes over the years the Arts and Crafts styling remains apparent. It has a series of dormer windows along the north side of the house and a variety of roof forms, frequently with shingles in the gables. The porch has now replaced the earlier verandah.

This historic area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. This report includes text from the original Historic Area Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Social Significance:

The area has been completely urbanised since the beginnings of European occupation, with originally just the one large house sited here and the very first brewery complex on leased land nearby. Although blocks of land were sold from the 50 acre block, no development took place until 1865 when the small size of the sections attracted settlers with limited financial resources and speculative builders.

For about eighty years Englefield Lodge was the dominant dwelling in the area and its occupants were clearly of a higher social status than those who lived in the cluster of small cottages. From the turn of the century as the number of buildings increased and more middle class families moved in around the big house, its sense of separation and status diminished. The reduction of land in 1921 lessened the house's status further and gradually the whole area acquired a more homogenous social character. In recent years the appeal of the small 'workers' cottages and their proximity to the city within this suburban locale lead to the gentrification. This process is completing the change in the social makeup of this area.

Thus the social changes within the Englefield historic area are representative of the changes that have occurred throughout the city during its 150 years of European settlement and link closely to the pattern of urbanisation.


Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

This historic area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. This report includes text from the original Historic Area Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Historical Background:

In pre-European days the Avon River (Otakaro) was a major landscape feature where local Maori gathered food. On the Englefield section of the river bank was a cabbage tree, used as a fishing marker. The original was removed about 1922 but it was formally replaced in 1994.

Brittan enlarged his original 50 acre land holding by purchasing the neighbouring block, Rural Section 29, before he began selling substantial parts of the property in December 1859. He had also purchased a further farming run, which he named Lansdowne, at Tai Tapu and as pressure on the town sections increased the Englefield land's attractiveness for closer settlement was recognised. The land was close to the town centre, its elevation making it well drained (unlike other areas), and it adjoined the river which served as a highway.

The farm which Brittan developed, had served, like the Deans farm at Riccarton, as an illustration to newly landed settlers of the potential for successful farming. His home was rapidly surrounded by a fine garden featuring rhododendrons, camellias, lilac and lavender as well as thriving, rapidly maturing, English trees. Brittan was generous in allowing the public to visit.

In 1854 Brittan leased a small area of land on the river frontage of his property to Archer Croft and Hamilton Ward who established Christchurch's first brewery here. By 1857 the roadway which was to become Avonside Drive was formed along the river bank by Brittan and in that year he sold the leased area to Croft and Ward. The area of land was increased in 1860 to total 102 by 43 feet. But it was not enough for the developing brewery which was transferred to the other side of Fitzgerald Avenue at the end of that year. Later known as Ward's Brewery, it was one of the long lasting

breweries in the city, its complex of buildings still standing.

Apart from this brief period of commercial use the property's ensuing breakup was for housing. The first subdivision occurred in 1864 after the block to the east of Englefield was purchased by George Hamner for 1,250 pounds. He had the block divided up into quite small sections, c.17 perches, clearly targeted for modest homes, with Hanmer Street formed to bisect the area. (Deeds Register Plan 1888) George Hanmer must have had the subdivision of his land drawn up c.1865 as the first lot was sold 20.1.66, for 50 pounds - i.e. 17 perches for the same sum that Brittan had paid for his 50 acre block just 15 years earlier.

In 1881 William Attwood had a subdivision drawn up for the block of land to the south of Englefield Lodge. These sections were also small ones and Elm Grove was now formed. It was not until February, 1922 that a further subdivision was made of the land immediately around Englefield Lodge. The original homestead was separated from the river, its environs reduced to just 1 rood, 24 perches, with some 19 further sections surrounding it. These were generally considerably larger than in the previous subdivisions, with the largest at 36 perches. Shortly after this subdivision was made, one section was taken by the Council so that Elm Grove and Wells Street could be connected, with the name Elm Grove being adopted.

Physical Description

This historic area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. This report includes text from the original Historic Area Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.


Englefield Historic Area is just outside what was the original block of land designated for the town of Christchurch, at the north western corner. The central area of town sections was bounded by the North, West, South and East Belts, later renamed Bealey, Rolleston, Moorhouse and Fitzgerald Avenue. Beyond these were the 50 acre rural sections.

Rural Section 26 was the 50 acre block first owned by William Guise Brittan and this historic area was the major section of his land, on which his home still stands. Within the area are representative examples of domestic architecture illustrating the way housing developed over the period 1850 to the 1930s. Englefield Lodge, Brittan's home (Cat.II), is the earliest extant example, This area's development is representative of the wider patterns of settlement around Christchurch as farming land was progressively subdivided and society became more urbanised.

The historic area lies within the boundaries provided by the Avon River to the north, Fitzgerald Avenue to the west, Hanmer Street in the east and Elm Grove to

the south. It includes some 45 properties.

These are:

Nos, 208 to 230 Fitzgerald Avenue

Nos. 6 to 30 and 7 to 29 Elm Grove

Nos. 5 to 35 and 6 to 40 Hanmer Street

Nos. 14 to 30 Avonside Drive

Also included are the historic garden reserve at comer of Fitzgerald Avenue and Avonside Drive, and the adjacent section of the Avon River, including both river banks.

Construction Dates

Information Sources

Encyclopaedia of NZ, 1966

Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, Wellington, 1966

Lyttelton Times

Lyttelton Times


McIntyre, 1980

W McIntyre, The Journal of Henry Sewell 1853-7 Christchurch: Whitcoulls, 1980

Canterbury Standard

Canterbury Standard


Seager, 1982

John Gundry Seager, Dr Gundry's Diary. Pub. Nags Head Press, 1982.

Bowan, 1998

Edmond Bowan. Blest Madman: FitzGerald of Canterbury. Pub. Canterbury University Press, Christchurch, 1998

Canterbury Papers, 1850-1852

Canterbury Papers, 1850 to 1852. Canterbury Association (London). Pub. Kiwi Publishers, Christchurch, 1955

Other Information

A copy of the original 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.

Historic Area Place Name

Avon River
Council Housing Block
Englefield Lodge
Garden Reserve