Down a long drive off Brougham Street is a small enclave of houses which give the air of belonging to a different time. Although two have had the usual unsightly additions acquired by rental properties, there is a charm about these houses which comes from their seclusion and sharing of the unfenced back section.
There’s No. 11, an elegant two-storeyed Victorian house designed by George Schwartz and built in 1900. Schwartz was an important architect, who designed many houses in Mt Victoria and some notable buildings in Wellington. These included the Oriental Hotel (later known as the Palace and then the Carlton) and the Empire Hotel on Victoria Street. The Empire was a luxury hotel built in 1897 and its owner paid for Schwartz to make a study tour of Australia to gather the latest ideas in luxury appointments.
No. 11 was built for the Reverend FT Sherriff. Francis Sherriff was ordained an Anglican deacon in 1876 and came to Wellington from Wanganui in May that year to take up a position as temporary clergyman at the newly consecrated St Marks in Sussex Square. The report of the first AGM of the parishioners in 1876 noted that:
“The new district was greatly indebted to the Rev. F Sherriff, who had taken temporary charge, for the judgment and energy with which he had worked, especially for his remarkably successful establishment of a Sunday school, which already had seventy or eighty scholars on its books.”
Sherriff then seems to have been a member of, and Chaplain to, the volunteer Wellington Naval Artillery for a number of years.
He was also an ardent supporter of the struggle for the eight-hour working day. When he could not be present at a rally in the Basin Reserve in support of the Engineers strike in London in 1897, he sent a letter of apology to be read out declaring himself “as a sympathiser with those who are endeavouring at such great cost to themselves to effect a reasonable limit to the hours of labour”. It was received with applause by the gathering.
Beside Sherriff’s house, and constructed just the year before in 1899, is the home built for William Redstone. Redstone came to New Zealand in 1879 on the “Orari,” landing in Lyttleton. It’s not clear when he came to Wellington but in the early 1900’s he was Managing Clerk for a firm of sharebrokers. He was clearly a respected businessman and investor, as The Cyclopedia of New Zealand wrote of him that “since his arrival in the Colony, Mr. Redstone has made good use of his time, and his investments in various city and suburban properties have been more than ordinarily successful.” From about 1896 he was Managing Clerk at the firm of AJ McTavish and Co, accountants, land, estate and financial agents, valuators and arbitrators, and quickly became a partner in the business. William and his family were good Methodists. William often served on committees and councils for the Church and, in 1911, along with another prominent Methodist, he hosted a banquet for 50-60 young Methodist men at Godber’s rooms to encourage them to be active in church affairs. He was also civic-minded and, in 1906, at a meeting organised at the Chamber of Commerce, he joined a number of other businessmen in a Citizen’s Committee to build a YMCA in the city.
Somehow, he does not give the impression of being a dour Methodist, however. He was clearly a good singer. At the annual social of the Wellington Builders’ and Contractors’ Association in 1901 he sang, and the social was reckoned one of the best of the season. He was a also a member of the Victoria Bowling Club in Claremont Grove, just behind his house, and sang there at at least one smoke concert.
This house off Brougham Street was no doubt the scene of many an important social occasion. In September 1909, Mrs Redstone held a house bazaar to raise funds to assist in the maintenance of the deaconesses of the Methodist Maori Mission. The fete, organised by members of the Wellington Methodist Young Women’s Bible Class Union, lasted through the afternoon and evening and the house was decorated with clematis, spring flowers and festoons of lycopodium intertwined with the union’s colours, blue, white and gold. The rooms were filled and the stalls did good business, raising £40 – much more than expected. Afternoon tea and supper were served and recitations, songs and duets were offered as entertainment, including a duet by Mr Redstone and a Mr Phipps.
When their eldest daughter, Clara, married Charles Hales in December 1906 the guests were entertained at their residence after the ceremony.
William’s love of music was clearly shared by all three daughters, who sang in numerous choirs and at many ‘musical entertainments’ in Wellington.
The third house is No. 15 and it, too, was built by Redstone. It was constructed in 1906, the year of his daughter’s marriage.