Homewood Croquet Pavilion/ Summerhouse

50 Homewood Avenue, Karori, WELLINGTON

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The summary below is from the Upgrade Report for Homewood Croquet Pavilion / Summerhouse, completed in 2013. Associated with one of Wellington’s most celebrated homes, the Homewood Croquet Pavilion / Summerhouse was a central focus of its social activities by the early twentieth century. It has historic significance because of its associations with high profile persons from the political, commercial, and social sphere of Wellington and New Zealand, as well as important Commonwealth connections being in the grounds of the British High Commissioner’s residence since the mid twentieth century. In particular, it is a symbol of the wealth and status of the Johnston family, and a suitably elegant venue or backdrop for the social occasions which still occur there today. In 1844 Henry Samuel Chapman (1803-1881), the Supreme Court for the Southern Division of New Zealand’s first judge, bought 118 acres in Karori. When Chapman accepted the position of colonial secretary of Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) in 1852 Homewood was sold to successful merchant and public figure John (1809-1881) Johnston and his wife Henrietta. When John died the property was transferred to his son, Sir Charles John Johnston (1845-1918), who followed in his father’s footsteps as a successful businessman and politician. Charles was elected Mayor of Wellington in 1889 and became a member of the Legislative Council in 1891. Befitting their social and economic status the Johnstons commissioned a substantial enlargement of their Homewood residence in 1903. It seems likely that the garden pavilion was constructed around this time as well. Newspaper accounts of the numerous functions held at Homewood make no mention of a summerhouse until 1908. The Johnstons were famous for their hospitality, holding charitable events in their picturesque garden, as well as hosting important dignitaries and family occasions which attracted the elite of Wellington society. Being located next to the croquet lawn the building was used by spectators during early twentieth century tournaments held at Homewood, and was the destination for those seeking tea and strawberries and cream during summer parties. The pavilion is a small L-shaped gable roofed building with plain tongue and groove north, east and west walls. In striking contrast is the summerhouse’s frontage featuring extensive timber fretwork. The Victorian/early Edwardian character of the building is also communicated by the roof’s cast iron ornamental cresting on the ridges and the zig-zag valance around its base. These aspects are reminiscent of Gothic Revival architectural influence. In 1932 Benjamin and Lucy Sutherland took ownership of Homewood, which had been subdivided down to a two acre section. It was then that Homewood’s impressive landscaped gardens seem to have largely taken shape, with the summerhouse being retained. Sutherland's Self Help Co-operative Limited was a successful New Zealand grocery store chain. Like the Johnstons, the Sutherlands often staged open days and other events in Homewood’s garden as part of their charitable efforts. Sutherland’s widow sold the property to the British Government as the residence of the British High Commissioner to New Zealand in 1958. The pavilion remains a valued aspect of Homewood’s garden and as such was restored in 1988.

Homewood Croquet Pavilion/ Summerhouse | A Dangerfield | 03/12/2012 | NZ Historic Places Trust
Homewood Croquet Pavilion/ Summerhouse. Tennis court and lawn, Homewood, Karori, Wellington, 1936. Crown Studios Ltd :Negatives and prints. Ref: 1/1-038577-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23039986. Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any re-use of this image | Crown Studios Ltd | Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington
Homewood Croquet Pavilion/ Summerhouse. Unidentified guests being served tea and cakes in the garden at a fashion show at Homewood, Karori, Wellington, 6 February 1959. Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1959/0403-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23262645. Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any re-use of this image | Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington



List Entry Information


Detailed List Entry



List Entry Status

Historic Place Category 1


Private/No Public Access

List Number


Date Entered

6th June 1990

Date of Effect

6th June 1990

City/District Council

Wellington City


Wellington Region

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Lot 2 DP 83090 (RT WN49C/934), Wellington Land District and the building known as Homewood Croquet Pavilion / Summerhouse thereon.

Legal description

Lot 2 DP 83090 (RT WN49C/934), Wellington Land District

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