‘The Venetian blind was pulled down but not drawn close. Long pencil rays of sunlight shone through and the wavy shadow of a bush outside danced on the gold lines.’ 'Prelude'
Katherine Mansfield's father, Harold Beauchamp, had this house built for his family in 1888. Mansfield lived here as a young girl with her parents, Harold and Annie, her older sisters Vera and Charlotte, her baby sisters Gwendoline (who died aged three months) and Jeanne, her maternal grandmother Margaret and her aunts Kitty and Belle.
The house was returned to its original layout and design in the 1980s when the Katherine Mansfield Birthplace Society was established by Oroya Day. The restoration project was a significant undertaking. The house had been renovated to create two flats, but thankfully some original features (such as the bamboo style banisters) remained largely intact, and scraps of wallpaper were found that enabled their reproduction.
For five months in 2019 the house was closed for some much-needed maintenance (including a new roof) and an interior redevelopment led by Dr William Cottrell, an expert in furniture of the New Zealand colonial era.
‘The mind I love must have wild places, a tangled orchard where dark damsons drop in the heavy grass, an overgrown little wood, the chance of a snake or two, a pool that nobody's fathomed the depth of, and paths threaded with flowers planted by the mind’
The heritage garden is full of flowers and plants that were popular during the lifetime of Katherine Mansfield. She loved flowers and mentioned them often in her writing.
The House & Garden has a special plant sale every year - this year it will be held on Sunday 13 October 2019.
The garden is listed with the New Zealand Gardens Trust.