"" Writer's Wanderings: New Zealand Diary - Martinborough, The Old Manse

Monday, November 04, 2013

New Zealand Diary - Martinborough, The Old Manse

Sunday, October 13, 2013

I wanted to take some time to tell you about The Old Manse where we stayed in Martinborough. Our hosts, John and Sandy, were delightful. The house has quite a history. It was built in 1876 and had five rooms and a thatched roof and served as home to 8 ministers over the years. For 28 years it was suitable but when Rev. James McCaw was called to the parish in 1904, it became evident with his large family that the home was not big enough. The Old Manse was enlarged by 1906 to the size it is today.

After 60 years of serving the ministers of the Presbyterian parish, the home was in need of repairs and renovation that were too burdensome for the church. The Old Manse was sold and a new one eventually built on another street nearby. After that, The Old Manse was owned by several families until finally being purchased by John and Sandy in 1999.

When John and Sandy purchased it the home was quite run down. Before and after pictures along with pictures of some of the ministers and their families who lived there are scattered throughout the hall and main area. The before-and-afters are amazing. John and Sandy paid attention to detail and definitely got it right. Even the light switches are period pieces. The only truly modern area is the kitchen but it blends in with all the other Victorian decoration.

When all the work was done, the church gave them permission to call it the Old Manse and they performed not only a Christian blessing but also a Maori blessing upon it. It is a number one rated bed and breakfast in the area.

At six, John and Sandy and a friend, Deb, come in with some refreshments and sit for a bit to visit with us. John tells us a little more about his adventures in restoring the home and shares his anticipation of retiring soon. Sandy shares a little of some of the memories of running the BB and I wondered how they are going to fair when it is over. They seem to truly enjoy the experience of meeting people. I’m sure there’s another side they won’t miss at all.

For us, it is a most enjoyable experience. We have the house to ourselves since John and Sandy live next door and there are no other guests this night. It is however a difficult night as the lovely pleasant breeze that was blowing in the afternoon becomes gale force wind in the night. An awning over the patio area flaps loudly every so often sounding like thunder.

John fixes us a delicious breakfast in the morning. Bob has baked beans with his eggs and I have tasty mushrooms with mine. The coffee is just right and we are set for our journey. I wonder what the day will be like driving to Wellington since the winds are due to continue for a day or two. Perhaps the weathermen don’t get it right all the time here either.

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