Grand old Featherston house for sale

CALEB HARRIS
Last updated 05:00 26/06/2014
Fareham House in Featherston

COLONIAL TOWNHOUSE: Fareham House in Featherston was built in 1896 by pioneering Wairarapa farmers William and Lucy Barton.

fareham
GRAND LIVING: The 15-bedroom building has a grand entrance hall and several living areas.

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A 118-year-old "castle" that was home to a pioneering family and then hundreds of girls is on the market.

Owner Deb Gibbons says the walls of Featherston's stately Fareham House are full of memories.

"My grand-daughter calls it the castle. She's like, oh Granny, you can't sell the castle!"

The two-storey homestead at 80 Underhill Rd, built in 1896, was listed by Leaders Real Estate last week, with a rateable value of $1,525,000.

The 15-bedroom home's features include a grand entrance hall, large kitchen and several living areas. The 11.5ha property comes with a gym, swimming pool, three classrooms, two separate three-bedroom houses and two self-contained bedsits.

Pioneering Wairarapa farmers William and Lucy Barton, owners of White Rock Station, built Fareham as a townhouse and raised five daughters there.

Legend has it Lord Bledisloe, of the rugby cup and horticultural medal fame, was a guest.

Another room was refurbished in the 1920s for a visit by the Prince of Wales but a rail strike meant he never used it.

The estate was sold to the government around World War II and used as a home for Maori girls who were in trouble or state wards, leading to its local nickname "the naughty girls' home", Gibbons says.

Former residents from this period often visited and shared sad memories of the way they were treated, but there was usually affection for the building itself, she says.

The former residents' stories included girls dangling a matron from a balcony by her ankles, and a riot during which a headmaster was chased out on to the road, where he was hit by a car.

Gibbons ran a successful bed and breakfast and function venue at Fareham and her four sons spent their childhoods pounding up and down the original kauri staircase, playing hide and seek in the "bedroom-sized" linen cupboard and building tree huts in the native bush-filled grounds.

She was reluctantly selling the "warm, welcoming, fabulous" home to spend more time with her elderly parents.

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- The Dominion Post

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