On Sunday, we finally got to see the Katherine Mansfield House and Garden in Thorndon, Wellington. The author, Katherine Mansfield, was born here in 1888. The house itself was returned to its original layout and design during the 1980s and has recently been reopened after being closed for restoration and maintenance. This included a new roof and an interior redevelopment.
Prior to the 1980s renovation, the house had been created into two flats. Thankfully some original features (such as the bamboo style banisters) remained largely intact, and scraps of wallpaper were found that enabled their reproduction
The day we visited coincided with the annual plant sale, and free entry to the house (or rather, by donation rather than entrance fees). I am so glad we went as it gave us an opportunity to see the house and collection of artefacts of the period. Some things were (scarily) familiar from my childhood, such as the pottery bed warmer and the Willow Pattern china that my mother loved, but it was also wonderful to see the house so lovingly restored and cared for. The three pictures below are from the nursery.
One room of the house contained a timeline of Mansfield’s life, and also related aspects to places around the city (such as the setting of her short story The Garden Party (the current 133 Tinakori Road, originally numbered 75). This was really interesting and a great resource as well.
One of Mansfield’s most famous short stories is The Doll’s House, first published in 1922. It has recently been translated into te reo Māori (Te Whare Tāre translated by Karena Kelly). A temporary exhibition of a wide variety of miniatures and dolls’ houses is on display at the moment. With my love and fascination of all things small, I loved this particular exhibit.
The small garden is definitely worth a visit, and is listed with the New Zealand Gardens Trust. There were some really lovely pansies dotted around, hebes and other flowers to admire.
So, should you ever happen to be in Wellington, don’t forget this little gem. Thorndon in itself is interesting, being one of the oldest parts of the city, and not on the typical tourist trail, so visit if you get a chance.
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