Broxt Cottage

185 West Street, Feilding

  • Broxt Cottage.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand . Taken By: Val Burr.
  • Broxt Cottage.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand . Taken By: A Dangerfield. Date: 18/09/2013.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7682 Date Entered 29th September 2006

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Registration includes the land comprised in CT WN16C/221 and the building and its fittings and fixtures thereon.

City/District Council

Manawatu District

Region

Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 45623 (CT WN16C/221), Wellington Land District

Location description

Located near the corner of West Street and Halcombe Road, Feilding.

Summaryopen/close

Situated on the lower levels of 'Halcombe Hill' on the northern outskirts of Feilding, Broxt Cottage is the former residence of Douglas Hastings Macarthur, Feilding's first mayor. The township of Feilding was established on the Manchester Block in the Manawatu in 1874. In 1875 Frederick Gillett, the surveyor employed to complete a plan of the township, acquired land there. Prior to the sale of the land, it appears that a building was constructed on what became Suburban Section 178. Renovations to the building in the 1970s uncovered part of a newspaper clipping, dated 22 May 1874, pasted to one of the walls. No evidence has been found confirming that Gillett constructed the cottage, or lived there.

The land was transferred to Douglas Hastings Macarthur on 10 October 1883. Between 1881 and 1882, Macarthur had served as Feilding's first mayor. A year after he took up residence in the cottage he was appointed to the House of Representatives, a position he held until his death in 1892. Although part of the land was sold after Macarthur's death his wife, Mary Macarthur, remained in the cottage. In 1898 she married Hugh Lind Sherwill. Prior to the marriage, Sherwill had also served as mayor of Feilding.

In 1901, one of Mary Macarthur's three daughters married and the wedding was held at the cottage. This photo is the earliest evidence of the construction of an L-shaped extension added to the building, although the weatherboards suggest that it may have been constructed in the early 1880s before rusticated weatherboards were widely adopted. Mary and Hugh Sherwill remained living at Broxt until Hugh Sherwill's death in 1902.

Mary left Broxt in 1916 but retained ownership of the property until 1920. It was then sold to Alfred Hannett , who transferred it to his daughter-in-law, Ellen (Nelly). Ellen Hannett and her family remained in the house until 1958 when it was transferred to Percy and Gladys Bambry. The Bambrys installed a new kitchen, a concrete terrace and exterior doors in the eastern elevation. The house was sold to Denis and Dorothy Pilkington in 1978. The cottage floor was then removed and replaced with a concrete slab and a staircase to the upper floor was added for the first time. A new dormer window was added and other windows were replaced. Through their research on the house, the Pilkingtons discovered that the house had formerly been known as 'Broxt'. The Pilkingtons sold the house to its present owners, Christopher and Robyn Symonds, in 1982. The Symonds converted the space associated with the gable-end window above the bay window left of the front entrance into an extra room. The house continues to be used as a residence.

The cottage now consists of a single storey cottage and a two-storey 'L-shaped' extension to the rear (east). The cottage, in which the 1874 newspaper clipping was discovered, has been modified and added to in recent years. Original features include the architraves, which consist of plain boards. The ‘L' shaped extension to the east depicted in the 1901 wedding photograph consists of a gabled portion that runs parallel to the original cottage, and a gabled bay and room that juts out from the verandah on the east elevation. The internal layout of the extension has been slightly modified and a number of the original features replaced. The matai floor and the decorative architraves and skirting boards remain in tact.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Historical Significance

Broxt Cottage has historical significance for its links with the early settlement of Feilding. A number of the landowners of Broxt Cottage are linked with the Emigrant and Colonists' Aid Corporation Limited, which was responsible for the initial development of the settlement. The Corporation sold the land to Frederick Gillett, who created the first survey of Feilding on its behalf. Documentary evidence relating to the building during the period consists of a newspaper clipping dated 22 May 1874, which was found in the cottage during renovations. This clipping, together with the early weatherboards, suggests that the cottage was built around or before 1874, possibly as a base for Gillet during his survey of the township. However, it is known that Gillet's family home was located outside of Feilding during this period. Subsequent owners Macarthur and Sherwill were also employed by the Corporation for a period although neither were associated with the house at the time.

The house is also associated with two of Feilding's early mayors. Douglas Hastings Macarthur arrived in Feilding in 1874 to work as a sub-agent for the Emigrant & Colonists' Aid Corporation. In 1881 Macarthur was appointed chief agent of the Emigrant & Colonists' Aid Corporation and he became the first Mayor of Feilding, a position he held until 1882. The following year MacArthur moved into Broxt Cottage. Around this period the house may have been extended to include the L-shaped extension that remains today. In 1884 Macarthur was appointed to the House of Representatives for the first time. While a member of the House, he represented Manawatu between 1884 and 1890, and Rangitikei between 1890 and 1892. Macarthur was reappointed as Mayor in 1885 at the special request of the residents of the borough. Macarthur also served on a number of clubs and committees and boards. Macarthur died suddenly at Broxt on 24 May 1892, aged 53 years.

Broxt Cottage is also associated with Feilding's second mayor, Hugh Lind Sherwill. Like Macarthur, Sherwill found work as a sub-agent to the Emigrant & Colonists' Aid Corporation, before becoming a partner in a stock and general auctioneering business in 1879. He served as Feilding's mayor in 1884 and served on its council between 1882 and 1885. As well as taking prominent roles in various social and sporting organisations, he was also very involved with St. John's Church, Feilding, including spending some twenty years as a churchwarden and a lay reader there.

Technological Significance

Broxt Cottage consists of a single storey cottage and a two-storey, 'L-shaped' extension to the rear (east). The earliest portion of the house was constructed around or prior to 1874 and it retains original features from this period, including plain, pit-sawn weatherboards and twelve-light, double-hung sash windows. The house has been extended over time, with an L-shaped extension being constructed to the rear. This extension is confirmed to have been constructed by 1901 but the weatherboards suggest that it may have been completed by or before the 1880s. The Cottage is physically significant for the insight it provides into early colonial building techniques.

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

The property has been associated with notable figures of importance in Feilding, including Frederick Gillet, the surveyor responsible for the first survey of Feilding; Duncan Hastings Macarthur, the first mayor of Feilding and a Member of the House of Representatives; and Feilding's second mayor, Hugh Lind Sherwill.

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

Broxt Cottage is an early example of residential housing in Feilding and includes original features that date back to 1874, when the township was first surveyed.

(i) The importance of the identifying historic places known to date from early periods of New Zealand settlement:

The earliest concrete evidence of the existence of Broxt Cottage dates from 1874, the year that the first survey of Feilding was completed by Frederick Gillett.

Linksopen/close

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

The township of Feilding was established on the Manchester Block in the Manawatu in 1874. In 1871, William Henry Adelbert Feilding acquired land for the township from the Wellington Provincial Council on behalf of the Emigrant and Colonists' Aid Corporation Limited. The Corporation, of which Feilding was a Director, was an English company that purchased New Zealand land for settlement by British immigrants. The Corporation employed surveyor Frederick Gillett to survey the land for the township. Gillett completed the survey on 16 February 1875. On 20 August 1875, the Corporation acquired a Crown Grant for approximately fifteen acres (6 hectares) on what was described on the new plan as Section 178, Suburban Subdivisions of Feilding. That same day, the Corporation sold the land to Gillett, who took out a mortgage over the land with the Wellington and Hutt Building Society the following month.

Prior to the sale of the land, it appears that a building was constructed on what became Suburban Section 178. Renovations to the building in the 1970s uncovered part of a newspaper clipping, dated 22 May 1874, pasted to one of the walls. The building may have been constructed for use by Gillett during his survey of the Manchester Block. According to the Feilding Star, in January of that year Gillett was obliged to vacate his tent to make way for incoming immigrants, whose promised accommodation had not been completed. If the building was constructed for Gillett, it was as temporary accommodation or as a base for his survey work. Gillett's permanent residence was in the Rangitikei. His wife gave birth to his daughter, Emily Esther, there in 1874 and in 1875 Gillett confirms that he was living in Marton. The family may have relocated to Feilding for a short period as his daughter, Ellinor Frances, was born there in 1877. However, the family had other property in Feilding and there is no available information on the location of their residence during this period.

Gillett retained Section 178, and continued to pay rates on it until 1883. On 30 May 1882 Gillett mortgaged the property and on 10 October 1883 it was transferred 'under mortgage' to Douglas Hastings Macarthur.

Douglas Hastings Macarthur, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1839. By the 1851 Census, he was living with his aunt and his sister at Broxt Cottage, Monks Kirby, Warwickshire, England. He migrated to New Zealand in 1856 and arrived in Feilding in 1874. That year he was appointed by the London office as a sub-agent for the Emigrant & Colonists' Aid Corporation. He married Toronto-born Mary Lilias Louise Hannay (c1857-1930) the following year, with whom he would have three daughters. In 1881 Macarthur was appointed chief agent of the Emigrant & Colonists' Aid Corporation, following the resignation of Arthur William Follett Halcombe (1834-1900). That same year he also became the first Mayor of Feilding, a position he held until 1882.

At the time Macarthur took over the house in 1883, he had only recently ceased to be Mayor of Feilding. He was reappointed to the position in 1885 at the special request of the residents of the borough. In 1884 he was appointed to the House of Representatives for the first time. While a member of the House, he represented Manawatu between 1884 and 1890, and Rangitikei between 1890 and 1892. Macarthur also served on a number of clubs and committees and boards. He served as President of both the Feilding Hunt Club and the Feilding Gentleman's Club, Chairman of the Manchester Highway Board, Captain of the Manchester Rifles and was the Patron for the Feilding Rugby Football Club.

As well as his busy political life and his social and family commitments, Macarthur was interested in business. He attempted to introduce a silkworm industry in the Feilding area and in June 1884 he sent to England for rose leaf Mulberry seeds. When these arrived in December 1884, he offered them to interested would-be growers, with the view that when the resulting trees reached maturity, that silkworms could be imported .

Macarthur died suddenly at Broxt on 24 May 1892, aged 53 years. The obituary in the Feilding Star of 26 May 1892 described his many contributions to his community and country. It noted:

Of his character in public and private life we cannot speak too highly. He was gifted with great mental powers, by which, aided by a strong will and the quality of intense application, he was able to overcome all obstacles which at first looked formidable and unsurmountable. Under a peculiarly rugged exterior he concealed a character for kindly humour as well as for keen wit, which was most unexpected when displayed, except among his intimates. No man ever went to him for counsel or advice and came away unsatisfied. The work of colonisation as evidenced by the success of the Manchester Block Settlement, found a faithful servant in him. To his indomitable courage and perseverance must the present prosperity of Feilding and the other portions of this part of the colony, be largely attributed. In his private life he was a good husband and a kind father.

Macarthur's funeral was considered one of the largest to be held in the Feilding settlement, with people attending from around the lower North Island.

Macarthur's death appears to have left Mary Macarthur, then aged about 35, and her three daughters, in financial difficulties. The first subdivision of Suburban Section 178 was recorded on the property's Certificate of Title on 24 March 1893. At this time, approximately nine acres were sold and Broxt was left with a strip of just over four acres stretching from the house site down to Lethbridge Street. In mid-March 1893, a great many items from the house and property were auctioned off in a clearing sale with no reserve prices in place. These included bedsteads, spring mattresses, kapok beds, pillows, chairs, chest of drawers, carpets, screens, tables, crockery, books and sundries, one first class piano (by Burling & Burling), double-seated buggy, dogcart, 'splendid' engravings and other pictures. Evidently the sale of 'surplus' furniture was very successful, with many buyers attending and 'exceptionally' good prices being obtained. Mary Macathur later went into business and was responsible for a number of commercial enterprises in and around Feilding.

On Monday 11 July 1898, at St Stephen's Anglican Church in Marton, Mary married another prominent Feilding man, widower Hugh Lind Sherwill . Sherwill was born in India in 1845, the son of a colonel in the British Army. He subsequently grew up in Perth, Scotland, before emigrating to Brisbane in 1862, from where he followed the gold trails to New Zealand. Like Macarthur, he found work as a sub-agent to the Emigrant & Colonists' Aid Corporation, before becoming a partner in a stock and general auctioneering business in 1879. He was Feilding's mayor in 1884 and served on its council between 1882 and 1885. As well as taking prominent roles in various social and sporting organisations, he was also very involved with St. John's Church, Feilding, including spending some twenty years as a churchwarden and a lay reader there.

The three Macarthur daughters married between 1900 and late 1902. Two of these weddings occurred in Feilding and a group photo from Ida's marriage to Herbert E. Dillon Morshead in 1901 has Broxt in the background. This photo is the earliest evidence of the construction of an L-shaped extension at the rear of the cottage. However, the weatherboards suggest that it may have been constructed in the early 1880s (possibly following Macarthur's purchase of the property) before rusticated weatherboards were widely adopted.

Mary and Hugh Sherwill remained living at Broxt until Hugh Sherwill's death on 7 July 1902. His obituary described him as being 'in every way a kindly Christian gentleman - a man who had lived a singularly pure life, and his heart was always full of loving kindness for the poor, the sorrowful, or the afflicted'. Mary left Broxt in 1916 but retained ownership of the property until 1920. She died in Tauranga in 1930.

Broxt's new owner was widower Alfred Hannett , a carrier of Feilding and another of the town's earliest settlers. Despite the purchase, Hannett remained living at his home at 113 Denbigh Street in Feilding, where he died at the age of 77 years on 24 September 1929.

On 6 July 1925, five years after buying Broxt, Alfred transferred it into the name of his Irish-born daughter-in-law, Ellen (Nelly), wife of Alfred's eighth child Walter Leonard Hannett. Alfred Hannett's granddaughter, Dorothy Mingins, recalled that Alfred Hannett purchased properties for all his children. Walter and Nelly had married after the First World War. Walter started a taxi business in Feilding, but when this proved to be unsuccessful, he began work as a driver for the Cheltenham Dairy Factory in Makino Road. The couple also kept cows, pigs and chooks and Nelly supplied milk to the dairy factory. Walter later worked for NZ Railways as a crossing-keeper on Kimbolton Road, a position established after a collision between a train and vehicle.

Dorothy Mingins recalled details about Broxt during the Hannett's ownership. She recollected six bedrooms on the ground floor and that her father, Dudley Dovey, installed a little kitchenette in the house. Dorothy Mingins noted that, during the Hannett's time, the house had no sewerage connection or water supply other than rainwater and that Walter kept the outside toilet, which consisted of a bucket beneath a wooden seat, very clean by scrubbing the boards white. She thought that there had been linoleum in almost every room and that one room might have been used as a separator room. Dorothy Mingins thought that the bricks from an old chimney were used to create a small retaining wall in the garden and that the front lawn was fenced off for grazing purposes.

The property remained in Nelly's ownership until it was transferred to new owners, the Bambrys, on 1 December 1958. Walter Leonard Hannett, a retired civil servant then of Nelson Street, Feilding, died in February 1965 aged 69. Nelly Hannett died in December 1984 aged 96.

The new owners were Percy Kenneth Bambry, a farmer from Palmerston North, and his wife Gladys Lalla Bambry. The Bambrys re-piled the building and made a number of alterations to it. For instance, they installed an inside toilet, glass exterior doors on the eastern wall, a new kitchen and a new concrete terrace. During the Bambry's ownership, the land surrounding the property was subdivided. In 1961 land was taken for road purposes and in 1963 land was sold to J. E. & H.S. Cruickshank. In August 1976, the remaining property was further subdivided, reducing Broxt's section to its present size of 1453 square metres. Percy Bambry died in around 1977-78. After his death Mrs Bambry rented the house out to tenants for a short period before selling it to the Pilkingtons in May 1978.

Denis Pilkington, then working at Borthwick CWS, Feilding, and his wife Dorothy, renovated the house. In the four years they owned Broxt, the Pilkington's installed the house's first staircase and lined and floored the upstairs attic area for use as a bedroom area. They replaced two gable-end windows with new similar ones and installed a dormer window to increase the lighting into the area. They also entirely replaced the floor of the original three-roomed cottage part of the house, installing a concrete pad in its place. The Pilkingtons were told that the house had once had a name and, some years after she sold the house, Dorothy learned that it had been known as 'Broxt' by Cathy Clarke, a descendent of the Macarthur family.

The Pilkingtons sold the house to its present owners, Christopher and Robyn Symonds, in 1982. The Symonds converted the space associated with the gable-end window above the bay window left of the front entrance into an extra room. They also reinstated the name to the house, and it is now known as 'Broxt Cottage'. The house continues to be used as a residence.

Physical Description

Broxt Cottage is situated on the lower levels of 'Halcombe Hill' on the northern outskirts of Fielding. Located near the intersection of West Street and Halcombe Road, the rectangular section has been subdivided. It now consists of 0.1453 hectares of sloping land overlooking a large paddock in the east. The house consists of a single storey cottage and a two-storey, 'L-shaped' extension to the rear (east).

The single storey cottage was constructed first. It is parallel to the road and runs along a north-south axis. The cottage rests on a concrete pad that replaced the floor in 1978. The cottage has a gable roof of corrugated iron and the two gable ends feature finials. The building is clad in plain weatherboards that are fixed horizontally, with each board overlapping the one beneath it. This style of weatherboard was common until the 1880s, when rusticated weatherboards gained in popularity. The cottage includes two original double-hung, twelve-light sash windows.

The main (western) elevation includes a porch extension, which is clad in rusticated weatherboards. There have been minor additions to the northern and southern elevations. The peak of the corrugated iron roof is lower that that of the extension.

The 'L' shaped extension to the east was completed prior to 1901 and consists of a gabled portion that runs parallel to the original cottage, and a gabled bay and room that juts out from the verandah on the east elevation.

The extension is clad in plain weatherboards similar to those used on the cottage. They are fixed horizontally, with each board overlapping the one beneath it. These weatherboards suggest that the extension may have been constructed prior to the 1880s.

On completion of the extension, the eastern elevation became the main entrance to the building. The door was located next to the bay and led to the central hallway.

The windows in the two gable ends were replaced in 1978 and a dormer window installed in the roof. However, the location of the bay window and the window above, which is an original double-hung, twelve-light sash window, remained unchanged. The decorative bargeboards depicted in a photograph from 1901 have been replaced with plain boards. The entrance door has also been replaced but an early set of french doors have been installed next to the door.

Verandahs extend along the length of the north and south elevations. The verandah on the south elevation has been partially filled in to create a washhouse and the verandah on the north side was partially replaced in 1959 by a lean-to extension. Verandahs on both the north and south sides are accessed via french doors. The doors on the north side were installed in the 1960s but those on the south side appear original and its original latches and knobs have been retained.

The layout of the interior of the cottage has been slightly modified over time and the verandahs on the north and south ends have been closed in to create new rooms. The interior walls have been re-clad and the floor and internal doors replaced but the original architraves, which consist of plain boards, remain.

The 'L shaped' extension retains its central hallway and general layout. The key change has been the insertion of a set of double doors between two of the rooms (described as the living room in the adjacent plan). The walls have been re-clad and the majority of the internal doors have been replaced. However, the matai floor, the decorative architraves and skirting boards remain in tact.

The extension originally contained two double fireplaces. The fireplace surround in the living area and the coal range in the kitchen have been replaced. The chimney connecting the two remains extant. On the south side, one fireplace remains extant. Wardrobes have been constructed on either side and it no longer protrudes into the room. The other fireplace has had its wooden surround removed but the brick fireplace interior and the chimney remain.

The upper floor in the 'L-shaped' extension was originally an attic area. In 1978 it was converted into an extension of the house. Formal access was via a staircase and floorboards were laid for the first time. The two windows on the gable ends were replaced and a dormer window, which faces east, was installed. The original window above the bay (facing east) is in its original location. In 1984 internal partitions were added to the attic to create an extra bedroom.

Construction Dates

Modification
1978 -
Floor of cottage replaced with a concrete pad. Staircase and dormer window in attic installed, attic lined and attic gable windows replaced.

Other
1981 -
Pot-belly stove installed

Other
1982 - 1983
Second pot-belly stove installed

Original Construction
1874 -
Presumed construction date.

Other
1901 -
First evidence of L-shaped extension presumed to date from the 1880s.

Modification
1959 -
Alterations, including installation of toilet, addition of glass doors, new concrete terrace and new kitchen area.

Construction Details

The one and half storey cottage is constructed around a timber frame and the exterior is clad in weatherboards. The roof is made of corrugated iron. The floor of the oldest part of the building was replaced with a concrete pad in 1978. The remaining floor area is set on piles and has matai floorboards.

Completion Date

18th August 2006

Report Written By

Val Burr and NZHPT

Information Sources

Davies, 1981

D. A. Davies & R.E. Clevely, Pioneering to Prosperity 1874-1974: A Centennial History of the Manchester Block (Feilding & Oroua Borough Councils, Feilding 1981)

Gibson, 1983

T A Gibson, An Account of the Settlement of the Feilding District (First published Feilding 1936, this copy: Capper Press, Christchurch, 1983)

Pilkington, 2000

D. Mingins, & D. Pilkington, Swamps, Sandflies & Settlers: Feilding and the Manchester Block the European Families, Feilding & District Historical Society, Feilding, 2000

Scholefield, 1940

G. H. Scholefield, A Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington, 1940

Other Information

A fully referenced version of the registration report is available from the NZHPT Central 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.