Part 1…Plas Mawr…A step into yesteryear…A historical home in New Plymouth…A day to remember…

When we spotted this original gate to the property, we knew we were in the right place, Plas Mawr, a historic custom home built in 1913 by renowned New Zealand architect, James Chapman-Taylor.

When we met June Moseley at the market and she invited us to visit her historic home, listed on the historical registry, Heritage New Zealand, Pouhere Taonga (The Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014 replaced the Historic Places Act 1993 on 20 May 2014), we were amazed that meeting a stranger in a supermarket could result in a meaningful experience. 

The stone garden house.

As a teacher with a passion for history and architecture June is a wealth of information about local New Plymouth and New Zealand history over hers and husband Simon’s many years in the area. 

Last Christmas, June received the rain barrel to the left of the garden house as a gift.

We were in awe of the comprehensive details June shared in her Arts and Crafts style historical home, Plas Mawr, built in 1913 by renowned New Zealand architect, James Walter Chapman-Taylor as quoted below from the historical registry:

“Chapman-Taylor, James Walter

Chapman-Taylor (1878-1958) was born in London and his family came to New Zealand in 1880. He was apprenticed to a builder in Stratford, and there he studied architecture by correspondence.

The walkway toward the house.

In 1909 Chapman-Taylor went on a voyage to England, where he acquainted himself with the English vernacular and the Arts and Crafts movement. This trip had a profound effect on Chapman-Taylor’s future work as he followed the principles of the Arts and Crafts movement, a movement with origins in the English Gothic Revival. Chapman-Taylor adhered to the Arts and Crafts principles of permanence, honesty, simplicity and beauty as espoused by architects C.F.A. Voysey (1857-1941), Baillie Scott, Parker and Unwin whom he met on this trip to England.

The continuation of the vegetation covered walkway reminded us of botanical gardens we’ve visited in our world travels.

He adapted the English movement to local conditions. His is an honest architecture which remained popular despite changing fashions. Chapman-Taylor adhered to Arts and Crafts principles over the 50 years of his career and showed a keen awareness of local forms and materials. He designed the furniture and fittings for many of his houses, including details such as wrought iron door and window fittings.

Our first view of the historic house.

As an architect and a craftsman, Chapman-Taylor designed and then built his houses himself – approximately 80 of them dated between 1904 and 1953. While most of these houses are situated in Wellington and Heretaunga, there are others throughout the North Island and one in the South Island.”

Hibiscus are hearty flowers seen worldwide.

Today, we’re focusing on the exterior of the house with its exquisite grounds, gardens and amenities.  Tomorrow, in Part 2, we’ll highlight the interior of this fine home, including photos of many of the well suited personal items and antiques June and Simon accumulated over the years so well befitting the unique era and design of this historic home which they purchased 11 years ago. 

The entrance to the sunroom.

We easily found the house in the quiet New Plymouth neighborhood, although the address wasn’t clearly marked. The massive sturdy hedges provided a secluded barrier from the street adding to the unique charm of the property. 

Beautiful vines, trellises and plants highlight the property’s grounds.

As soon as we spotted the clearly marked gate we knew we were in the right place.  Immediately upon entering the grounds the grace and beauty placed us in another era we could only imagine a time when such design was seen only in special properties.

June apologized for the dandelions and sparse lawn with the recent lack of rains. We could easily imagine a lush green lawn in more a more rainy climate.

The archways, trellises, gardens and endless array of flowering plants, shrubs and trees reminded us of a variety of botanical gardens we’ve toured throughout the world. 

We’d love to be able to identify all of these flowers, but with our metered wifi we can’t spend time searching online.

With my particular affinity for flowers, many of which were late into the blooming season in New Zealand, I paid particular interest in those remaining. Had we arrived a few months earlier flowers would have been at their peak. 

Seeing these cute flowers was a first for us.

As we’ve learned in our travels, we aren’t always at the right place at the right time of year. It’s the “nature” of our travels with “Mother Nature” at the helm of what we’ll have the opportunity to see. 

These flowers seem to grow prolifically in New Zealand.

Nor, do we have any control over the necessity of taking photos on cloudy days. Recently, we decided that cloudy days will not deter us from taking photos, as was the case when we entered June and Simon’s property yesterday morning. 

Another pretty bloom.

As we approached the house, June warmly greeted us as we took more photos, escorting us indoors for the remainder of the breathtaking tour. Aware that she had house guests arriving for the Waitanga Day (see description below) three day holiday weekend we didn’t want to take too much of her time. 

This stalk reminded us of a similar flowers we’d found in Madeira Portugal.

(Waitangi Day is a public holiday held on 6 February every year to commemorate the signing of New Zealand’s founding document – the Treaty of Waitangi – in 1840).

Zooming in to the above stalk we could see the flower’s unique detail.

As respectful as we intended to be for her time, June made us feel at ease, easily indicating we were welcome to stay as long as we’d like. After over two hours both in touring the home and engaged in enjoyable conversation, we took our leave. She escorted us to the front gate and again we hugged goodbye, hoping to see her again and meet Simon who was called away for work.

Notice the carved sign above the entrance, identifying the architect and the date the house was designed and built.

Neither of us could wipe the smiles off our faces over the enriching experience with a step into another era that resurfaced many memories of our own home in Minnesota built during this same period and that of many historic homes built during this era in Minneapolis (Tom’s childhood home).

We’ll be back tomorrow with Part 2. Please check back!

Photo from one year ago today, February 6, 2015:

It was our membership to the Makai Golf Club that was responsible for us meeting friend Richard who introduced us to many of his friends and neighbors.  The previous night we’d attended our first “Full Moon Party” making many new friends with common interests. For more details, please click here.