New Zealand. Larnach Castle | CruiseBe
Back to all travel blogs

New Zealand. Larnach Castle

Mike Seryakov • 6 minutes read • February 15th, 2017

Larnach Castle

is situated not far from


. I recommend to visit it. First of all, because it is the only castle throughout New Zealand.
In 1967, a young couple from Wellington - Margaret and Barry Barker - came here to spend their honeymoon and found this castle for sale. Berry had a small electrical business in Wellington, and his wife worked as a researcher at the University of the same capital.

Since Barkers bought the house, they began the process of restoration.
Barkers still own the land and organized a museum here. However, this castle also has very tragic history.
On the other hand, if it hadn't had this history, there would not have been such fascinating stories for tourists.

Back in 1867, the previous owner of the castle William Larnach came here from Australia, where he was a banker and worked in the gold mines.

His wife Eliza came with him, as well as his half-sister - the daughter from another marriage of one of his parents - and six children.

Larnach had to cut off the top of a mountain to build this castle on a place he liked. 200 workers within three years cleared the area and only 12 years later the castle was finished.
However, after William moved here, his family had as much as 5 "unnatural" deaths.
In 7 years after the start of construction of the house, William's wife Eliza died of a heart attack, although she was only 38 years old. It was in 1880.
William felt sad for some time and in 1882, he married his half-sister Mary. It was a convenient option, as Mary knew all the "orders at home" and was bringing up all the children of William.

After 5 years of marriage, Mary was diagnosed with uterine cancer, and soon she also died, without leaving any children. It was 1887, and at the time of her death, she also was 38 years old as the first wife of William Eliza.

Soon William married for the third time - with a daughter of his lawyer - Constance de Bathe Brandon. He was 57 and she was 34. At that time, she was a suffragette well-known in New Zealand.

After a short period of time after his marriage with Constance, the third death in the Larnach 's family happened - the eldest daughter of William Kate died of typhus at the age of 25 years.

William Larnach was the finance minister of New Zealand at that time. Since his wife was a follower of the ideology of the struggle for women's suffrage, probably, she knew the New Zealand's most famous suffragist Kate Sheppard.

William personally spoke with the Prime Minister of the country on women's rights to vote. As a result, with the direct participation of Larnach, in 1893, New Zealand became the first country in the world where women won the right to vote.

This is an ocean view from the house of William Larnach.
However, on October 12, 1898, the fourth death happened in the family. William Larnach shot himself in his chair in one of the parliamentary offices. Being the richest citizen of New Zealand, he went bankrupt as a result of the crises that happened in the country.

After his father's death, his youngest son, Douglas twisted love affair with Constance, because he was younger than her by only 3 years. William Larnach did not left a will and all his property passed to Constance.

However, the eldest son of William Donald who was a lawyer managed to win by court action the property, and Constance did not get anything. The house and other property was given to children of Larnach.

Constance went to Great Britain and gave birth to a boy there. It is still not known for certain who was his father, William Larnach or his youngest son Douglas.
Then she left her son in Great Britain and returned to New Zealand, where she was supported by her brother. Constance died only in 1942 at the age of 86 years.

Five children of Larnach sold everything, the New Zealand government bought their castle and used it as a madhouse. Then it became the hospital-shelter for soldiers - persons with disabilities, and only after that Barkers bought this house.

The fifth "unnatural death" awaited for the eldest son of William - Donald. He had three children, but his wife left him. All his initiatives at work were failures and in the age of 45 years he shot himself, repeating the fate of his father.

2 daughters of William - Colin and Alice - got married, had children and then grandchildren.
The younger daughter Gladys died when she was 22 years old after her marriage in 1920, when complications arose during a childbirth.

It's forbidden to take pictures in the house. Nevertheless, you can make a few photos "when no one sees".

Larnack Castle

This is our guide Alex.
After Larnach Castle, I went to Dunedin.
Author: Mike Seryakov
Translated by: Olesya Zhukova

Did you enjoy the post? Share with your friends!


Latest posts

Follow us on Facebook

Related blog posts you can't miss