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Legacy of early settler home lives on through charity

Few properties could better personify the character and heritage of Canterbury than 'Lansdowne' - one of the region’s oldest European building sites with a roll of ownership that reads more like a who’s who of notable personalities.

Now, the distinguished homestead has been placed on the market for sale, with the majority of the sale proceeds directed towards the charitable John Robert Godley Memorial Trust and its objectives, namely the support of Cantabrian heritage and Arts.

Bayleys salesperson Chris Jones says the property embodies the spirit of the Garden City or the City of Trees as it is sometimes known.

The property was initially created in the 1850s by William Guise Brittan, a prominent pioneer colonist who significantly contributed towards the early development of the Canterbury Settlement and was an ancestor of Captain Charles Upham VC & Bar.

Later, in the 1870s, Lansdowne became home to New Zealand's foremost early statesman and the country’s longest-serving 19th century Premier, Edward (later Sir Edward) Stafford.

“Both Brittan and Stafford played significant roles in New Zealand’s move towards self-governance and privately shared a passion for landscaping, to the lasting benefit of Lansdowne. Moreover, Brittan was a driving force in Canterbury's culture of education, architecture, Arts and sports, and he is justly acknowledged as the 'Father of Canterbury Cricket'.

“It seems inspired, therefore, that profits from the sale of Lansdowne will be directed back into the community to support Canterbury’s heritage, including Arts, culture, music and architecture.

In three iterations of Lansdowne, the current homestead was designed in 1961 by celebrated Cantabrian architect Heathcote Helmore and is an Arts & Crafts-style residence featuring Halswell Quarry basalt, stunning high-pitched Welsh slate roofs and original cedar-framed windows.

“Subsequently, a complete transformation of the homestead's interior by international opera-impresario Haydn Rawstron, completed in 2012, has produced a property of timeless, classical, European elegance. The result is one of the country’s most distinctive properties, with priceless historical value.”

Jones is marketing the property with Bayleys colleague Chris Flanagan for sale by auction, scheduled to occur onsite at Lansdowne, 132 Old Tai Tapu Road at 10:00 am on Thursday, 23rd November 2023 (unless sold prior).

Bayleys salesperson Chris Flanagan says the single-level Lansdowne residence's neo-Georgian interior of 310sq m (more or less) displays craftsmanship of the very highest standard and rooms of exquisite proportions.

"These include several rooms with a ceiling stud of more than four metres, two large bedrooms - each with their own bathroom, a spectacular country-style kitchen, and a principal room large enough to seat an audience of 100.

Over the past decade, this 'mini-concert hall cum dining room-lounge' was used for more than 50 public concerts, and this family home, during those ten years, was thus shared with Cantabrians as a cherished Arts' venue.

“Spread over three acres, the property's expansive lawns, many heritage trees, and abundant woodland provide privacy and respite.

“The Halswell River flows gently along the entire length of the property’s western boundary to complete an impression of Arcadia,” Flanagan says.

Lansdowne has expansive car parking for up to 50 vehicles, set in majestic trees just 100 metres from the homestead.

There is an Italian restaurant at the gate to the property, in what was Edward Stafford's former gatehouse, which has now been extended to double the original's size. Lansdowne's private car park has nothing to do with the Restaurant, which has its own car park.

Click here for more information on the listing.

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