Friday, 27 November 2015

Woodhill, Grange Road

Woodhill, Postcard, undated postcard
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Library
Woodhill in Grange Road, Tauranga is the second house built on his farm for Henry Stainforth Brabant, the first being Maungawhare. Fitzgibbon Louch, an Irish architect and Katikati settler designed the ‘domestic Gothic’ style house and David Lundon built it in 1885. Kauri logs from the Coromandel were milled on the site. The house had an imposing position on a ridge looking across the Waikareao estuary to what was then the small town of Tauranga. The whole building is cladded with timber weatherboards and has a corrugated iron roof. The original block of land is much reduced and there is just a few metres to the boundary hedge on the east side.

Woodhill from the East, 23 July 2002
Photo by Shirley Arabin, Courtesy of Heritage New Zealand
The house is large with a frontage of over twenty four metres. Originally there stood a three storey tower at the south end with a copper roof but an owner removed the top storey some years ago. The present function of the house is as a venue for funerals and rooms at the north end have been modified to provide a large room for services.  Otherwise much is original like the timber panelled wainscoting in the hall and the door and window joinery. The first front door is on the east wall that is now the back wall of the house. The ceilings are made of panelled kauri. Fire surrounds are original although repairs have been made at times to the brick fireplaces.

Woodhill, view of front, August 2002
Photo by Shirley Arabin, Courtesy of Heritage New Zealand
The elaborate barge boards on each gable are crowned by a finial which is itself braced by a scroll. The Italianate splayed bay window by the original front door is surmounted with embrasures and cappings. The label mould above the windows diverts water away from the windows while the verandah posts and barge boards demonstrate the elaborate styles popular in their day.

There were several owners between the Brabants and Legacy Funerals who have owned the house since the founder Greg Brownless bought it in 1993. During this time the grounds have reduced to half an acre and the driveway brings visitors to the west side that has become the main entrance to the house.

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