603A Marine Drive, Days Bay, Lower Hutt
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
28th June 1984
Date of Effect
28th June 1984
Lower Hutt City
Lot 1 DP 307236 (RT 28141), Wellington Land District
Sited on a rocky outcrop at one end of Days Bay, this house was once the holiday home for Wellington's Beauchamp family, including their daughter, Katherine Mansfield, who was to become New Zealand's most internationally acclaimed author.
The eastern bays of Wellington Harbour were favoured by Wellingtonians as a holiday destination from at least the 1850s. People took the ferry across the harbour for a day's fishing, picnicking or swimming. During the 1880s the popularity of the bays increased as land around Wellington and the Hutt Valley was further developed or subdivided for farming. In 1886 Captain W. B. Williams and his son J. H. (James) Williams began offering regular ferry excursions to Lowry Bay and Somes/Matiu Island. After his father died in1890, J. H. Williams took over the business and, in 1894, acquired land at Hawtrey Bay, better known as Days Bay. At that time the only person living at Days Bay was Hugh Downes. Downes had initially settled in Days Bay in the 1880s, and had made a living from cutting firewood. Williams hired Downes to be a resident caretaker for a holiday resort that he intended building. In 1898 Williams sold Downes a small section at the northern end of the bay in 1898. This is now known as Downes Point. A further piece of land was added in 1900 and it was on this land that Downes built a cottage. Although the exact date of construction is not known, a survey map indicates that the cottage was on the site by at least 1905.
In 1906 Downes subdivided the property and sold a portion of the land, including the cottage, to successful Wellington businessman and banker, Harold Beauchamp (1858-1939), the father of Katherine Mansfield. The Beauchamps were not strangers to the eastern bays. The family had spent a number of summers in a rented cottage, now known as the Glen, from 1899.
It was not until about December 1906, when Katherine Mansfield and her sisters returned from finishing school in London, that Mansfield first stayed at the cottage. At that time Days Bay was a thriving holiday resort, with large hotel, pavilion, fairground attractions, sports grounds, and a wharf that allowed easy access for boats regardless of the tide. Mansfield, however, seemed to prefer the natural attributes the bay had to offer - the beach, sea, and bush. She recorded her experiences at the cottage in her journal: 'I sit in the small poverty-stricken sitting-room, the one and only room which the cottage contains, with the exception of a cabin-like bedroom fitted with bunks, and an outhouse with a bath and a wood-cellar, coal-cellar complete. On one hand is the sea, stretching right up to the yard; on the other the bush growing close down almost to my front door.' The outhouse and cellar that Mansfield mentions (which remain today) were probably added by the Beauchamp family.
Mansfield left New Zealand for Europe for the last time in July 1908. The Beauchamps retained the property until 1912 when it was sold to David Anderson, a Wellington grocer. By this stage the popularity of Days Bay as a resort had declined. In 1913 the Day's Bay resort was sold, and portions of it were subdivided for housing. The Andersons remained in the cottage until 1939, and it is likely that substantial additions to the house were made during their tenure. Since then the house has had a number of owners.
The cottage is historically significant for its association with Harold Beauchamp and his daughter Katherine Mansfield. It is a reminder of the days when the eastern bays of Wellington were sufficiently distant to be a popular holiday destination for those escaping the pressures of the city. Although the cottage was modified with a large bungalow-style addition, it still maintains much of its bach-like character. The changes in the house's appearance mirror the development of the harbour's eastern bays over the past 100 years from remote seaside settlement to elite suburb.
June storm damaged much of the house.
16th August 2001
Report Written By
Ann Beaglehole and Alison Carew, Eastbourne a history of the eastern bays of Wellington Harbour, Eastbourne, 2001 [Historical Society of Eastbourne]
Vincent O'Sullivan, Katherine Mansfield's New Zealand, Wellington, 1988
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.