Historic Place Category 2
Pt Allot 33A Sec 3 Suburbs of Auckland (CT NA85A/397), North Auckland Land District
Extent of Registration
Extent includes the land described as Pt Allot 33A Sec 3 Suburbs of Auckland (CT NA85A/397), North Auckland Land District and the buildings and structures known as Claybrook thereon, and their fittings and fixtures. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information).
Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)
Located near Old St Marys Church in Auckland’s Parnell, the residence known as Claybrook was commissioned by architect and surveyor Sampson Kempthorne, a controversial figure in the history of the early Anglican Diocese of New Zealand. The one-and-a-half storey timber bay cottage constructed circa 1855-65 is one of a number of surviving nineteenth-century buildings in Parnell, a suburb with the largest concentration of early colonial houses in the city of Auckland.
The Parnell locality was a place of Maori activity in traditional times, and Te Toangaroa / Mechanics Bay a waka landing of longstanding. Following the foundation of colonial Auckland in 1840, Parnell developed as a separate settlement and prestigious residential location. Claybrook was erected on part of a Crown Grant purchased in 1843 by Sampson Kempthorne (1809-73) a well-connected English architect and surveyor who arrived in the colony in 1842 and briefly undertook work for the Church Missionary Society and Bishop Selwyn.
In place by 1866, the residence replaced Victoria Cottage (1843) and remained the home of Sampson and Marianne Kempthorne until their deaths in 1873 and 1884 respectively. Based on a T-plan, the design incorporated four or five major rooms downstairs one of which was a large kitchen unusual for cottages of the era, and at least three bedrooms in the attic.
In 1870 eleven-roomed Claybrook was unsuccessfully offered for sale, but was bought in 1885 by James Mason an early Parnell nurseryman who may have added the bay window. After Mason’s bankruptcy during the long depression, the house on a greatly reduced site was bought by senior civil servant David Lundon. Edward Moss, the author of the first popular book on shell collecting in New Zealand, was an early twentieth-century owner. The house changed hands in 1928, commencing four decades of ownership by the Wynn-Williams family. A dormer added above the verandah may have reinstated an earlier feature. A conservatory was added in 1981-2, but otherwise Claybrook retains its well-preserved external appearance as a private residence.
Claybrook has aesthetic value as a visually striking, colonial timber cottage with gables, dormers, valance verandah and small-paned windows. It has architectural significance as a surviving mid-nineteenth century suburban residence in Auckland’s Parnell, as an externally well-preserved one-and-a-half-storey, bay cottage of timber construction and is of interest as the private residence of architect Sampson Kempthorne who may have influenced the design. The place has historical significance for its association with Parnell’s early nineteenth century development, a settlement favoured as a place of residence by those linked with the founding of Anglican Church administration in New Zealand; for its close association with the historically prominent Parnell Kempthorne family; as the home of early local nurseryman James Mason, and of noted early twentieth century conchologist Edward Moss.
Claybrook has historical significance for its association with Parnell’s early nineteenth century development a settlement favoured as a place of residence by those linked with the founding of Anglican Church administration in New Zealand. The place also has historical significance for its strong association with notable early colonial architect, surveyor, educator and politician Sampson Kempthorne (1809-73) who purchased the wider property in 1843 and commissioned construction of the circa 1855-65 residence to replace an earlier cottage. The place has historical value for its association with early Parnell nurseryman James Mason who briefly owned the property in the 1880s; and as the residence of former politician and noted conchologist Edward Moss who lived there in later life until his death in 1916.
Aesthetic Significance or Value:
Claybrook has aesthetic value as a visually striking, colonial timber cottage with gables, dormers, valance verandah and small-paned sash windows. The place also has value for its picturesque setting enhanced by mature trees and contributes to the lower Claybrook Road streetscape.
Architectural Significance or Value:
The place has architectural significance as a surviving mid nineteenth century suburban residence in Auckland’s Parnell and as an externally well-preserved, one-and-a-half-storey bay cottage of timber construction. It is also of architectural interest as the private residence of the early colonial architect Sampson Kempthorne (1809-73) who was the original owner and who may have influenced the design.
Summary of Assessed Criteria
(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history
Claybrook reflects colonial settlement on the fringe of the administrative capital by colonial elite within the early years of Auckland’s founding. The place also reflects the evolution of Parnell as genteel semi-rural settlement, and a desirable place of residence for members of the Anglican community.
(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history
The place is significant for its association with colonial architect and surveyor Sampson Kempthorne, who was a minor but significant figure in the history of the early Anglican Diocese of New Zealand and deteriorating relations between Bishop Selwyn and the Church Missionary Society. It is also significant as the sole surviving residence of Sampson and Marianne Kempthorne whose descendants include the late Archdeacon John Pratt Kempthorne of Nelson; and the late Leonard Stanley Kempthorne, Bishop of Polynesia.
The place was briefly the residence of owner Edward Moss, the author of the first popular book on shell collecting in New Zealand, who died at Claybrook in 1916.
(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place
The place has value as an externally well-preserved mid-nineteenth century, colonial one-and-a-half storey suburban residence of timber construction. The design illustrates the use of a cross gable roof to achieve a house of reasonable size before the emergence of the centre gutter roof form in the 1860s. The design is an externally well-preserved example of a bay cottage, a style immediately preceding the New Zealand bay villa. The early-era design is unusual for incorporating a generously-sized kitchen that reflects domestic help in a large household. Claybrook is also of value as the private residence of architect Sampson Kempthorne who arrived in New Zealand in 1842 and may have influenced the design of the building.
(i) The importance of identifying historic places known to date from early periods of New Zealand settlement
Claybrook dates to an early period of colonial settlement, at which time Auckland was capital of New Zealand.
(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape
The place forms part of an important historical and cultural landscape in Parnell, Auckland’s earliest residential suburb and an early centre of Anglican administration in New Zealand. Parnell contains a large number of historic buildings of nineteenth-century date, including the highest proportion of early surviving residential houses in Auckland and buildings commissioned by the Anglican Church or those who served it. Claybrook is located off Parnell Road a short distance from Bishops Court and close to Ayr Street in which Kinder House and Ewelme Cottage are located.
Summary of Significance or Values
This place was assessed against, and found it to qualify under the following criteria: a, b, g, i, k.
It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category II historic place.
Early history of the site
Prior to European colonisation, Maori occupied numerous sites beside the Waitemata Harbour and used its associated bays for transport, food-gathering and other purposes. The bay which now borders Auckland’s commercial centre was linked with settlement in the Waihorotiu Valley and its adjoining headlands, which have been traditionally connected with Ngati Huarere, Te Waiohua and Ngati Whatua. The land later occupied by Claybrook lay in the head of a gully above Waipapa, a tidal creek that flowed down present-day Stanley Street into Te Toangaroa / Mechanics Bay a waka landing of longstanding. Within the current Auckland Domain are several sites associated with traditional events and settlement.
Ngati Whatua’s offer to transfer a large area of land to the British Crown for the creation of a colonial capital was formally agreed in September 1840. Mataharehare Bay at the foot of current Brighton Road, Parnell, formed the eastern boundary of the land provided for Pakeha settlement.
The Parnell site on which Claybrook was constructed lay within a Crown Grant of almost 1.6 hectares purchased by architect Sampson Kempthorne (1809-73) in April 1843. The grant (Allotment 33A) fronted Manukau Road (later Parnell Road) the route connecting the colonial capital with the port settlement of Onehunga on the Manukau Harbour.
Parnell was a separate settlement to the south of the town of Auckland during the nineteenth century and a centre of Anglican administration in New Zealand. From the early years of Auckland’s development as colonial capital, the area was a prestigious residential location. Kempthorne’s preference for land in the area may also have been influenced by 1842 purchases made by Bishop Selwyn who engaged Kempthorne’s services soon after the architect’s arrival in Auckland. Experienced in workhouse and church design, the well-connected Kempthorne was one of the first members of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and one of the first four European architects to arrive in the colony.
Kempthorne who had been born at Claybrook, Leicestershire, was a son of the Reverend John Kempthorne, and a grandson of Rear Admiral James Kempthorne. Shortly after entering architectural practice in London, he was engaged to design model plans for workhouses under the New Poor Law, work that may have been due to his father’s friendship with Poor Law Commissioner, Thomas Frankland Lewis. In 1838 Kempthorne married Marianne (c.1813-84), a daughter of the Reverend Josiah Pratt (1768-1844) a founder and the first Secretary of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) established in 1799.
Disappointed in his hopes of Poor Law work in Ireland, Kempthorne practised land surveying during 1841, and in concert with some others briefly entertained the idea of forming a Church of England settlement in New Zealand. The CMS also hoped to engage his services to survey, map and value its lands. Kempthorne became a minor but significant figure in the early history of the Diocese of New Zealand, through misunderstandings as to powers of agency and other matters which contributed to tensions between the CMS, its missionaries and the newly created Bishopric of New Zealand.
The Kempthornes’ earliest home on the Parnell property was Victoria Cottage, a four-roomed prefabricated house they brought from England, and the address given in August 1843. He took out a mortgage for £100 from Bishop Selwyn in 1844, the year the Auckland Police Census records the property as having a single timber house. In mid-1845 Kempthorne was replaced by Frederick Thatcher as the diocesan architect, Bishop Selwyn having lost confidence in his work after structural problems with the two small church buildings and difficulties at St John’s College, Tamaki then under construction. With little architectural work available in the colony, Kempthorne subsequently engaged in farming, surveying, school teaching, secretarial work and (as a Justice of the Peace) sat on the Bench of Justices.
Kempthorne returned to England in 1847-8 to pursue a claim against the CMS. During this time his family including two domestic servants, one of whom was Marianne’s life-long nurse and servant Sarah Emerton (1785?-1862), lived at Kohimarama and Purewa. The Kempthornes returned to Victoria Cottage in 1849, the year Sampson was appointment to the Legislative Council of New Ulster, a short-lived body replaced in 1852.
Kempthorne established a preparatory grammar school at Victoria Cottage in 1849. Marianne had assisted the Reverend George Kissling and his wife with instruction at the Maori girls’ school at Kohimarama in 1847-8. As well as caring for their own large family, the Kempthornes also offered boarding accommodation for boys attending the Church of England Grammar School which opened in Parnell Road in July 1856.
Construction of Claybrook (circa 1855-65)
Although the date of construction of Claybrook may never be known, the building was in place by 1866.
The Parnell property was mortgaged to auctioneer Thomas Weston for £150 in 1855. The mortgage and / or funds generated by the sale of nine lots along the Manukau Road frontage three years later may have financed the construction of a new residence. The storey-and-half dwelling befitting of the family’s social standing but free of ostentation, is visible in an 1860s photograph. A drawing dated 1860 also suggests a building on the site, although the roof configuration differs.
The design of Claybrook which may have been influenced by Kempthorne, utilised a cross gable roof. A common device of the time, this enabled a residence of reasonable size before the 1860s emergence of the centre gutter roof form. Claybrook was of a bay cottage, a style immediately preceding the New Zealand bay villa. The return bay already in use in England appeared in Auckland in 1845 and in some Wellington farmhouses of the 1850s, and by 1860 was a standard solution to making a larger house out of the short-span gable roof.
The house based on a T-plan, may have been built in two stages or as a single entity. A valance verandah extended across part of the front of the house and may have had a short return. Within the gabled roof were half dog-house dormers with nine-light sash windows (three-over-six). Twelve-light sash windows common in New Zealand since the 1840s lit the larger rooms. At the rear of the house, the east wing terminated in a single-storey gable. A broad, single-storey hip-roofed wing accommodated a generously-sized kitchen which was unusual for the era but reflects the large Kempthorne household’s use of domestic help. A lean-to containing service rooms may also have formed part of the original design.
Internally, there were four or five major rooms downstairs and three upstairs. The front door sheltered by the verandah opened into a compact entrance hall with a simple Regency-style staircase. To the left were a front parlour and a room behind, heated by back to back fireplaces. There may have also have been a small room to the rear. A second chimney served a fireplace in a large front room (to the right of the entrance) and the kitchen at the rear of the house. There were at least three bedrooms in the attic.
The household reduced in size in 1862 with the death of Sarah Emerton, and the marriage of the couple’s eldest daughter Elizabeth to a son of Archdeacon George Kissling, the first incumbent of St Marys Parnell. The Kempthorne’s son Arthur (1842-1910) no longer lived at home, having taken up a teaching position at a Maori College founded at Waerenga-a-hika by Leonard Williams in the Waiapu Diocese of his father Bishop William Williams.
Kempthorne was appointed secretary of the Public Buildings Commission established in Auckland in 1864, but returned to land surveying in March 1865.
The death of Mary Ashwell the 19-year-old daughter of the Reverend B.G. Ashwell at Victoria Cottage in February 1865 raises the possibility that Kempthorne’s earlier cottage may have been tenanted by this time. A report on compensation paid for land taken for construction of the Auckland to Drury railway lists the Kempthorne and Ashwell properties consecutively, and suggests that the Ashwells’ house, garden and pasture were acquired for the public work. The nearby railway tunnel was lengthened to ensure the safety of Kempthorne’s house against the risk from a landslip. In May 1866, the year the couple’s son John Pratt Kempthorne (1849-1931) won a prestigious St Johns College scholarship, the family residence was referred to as located near St Mary’s Church and the name Victoria Cottage was not mentioned.
In 1867 Sampson and Marianne Kempthorne raised a subscription to construct the nave of St Peter’s in the Forest at Bombay, South Auckland on two-hectare property they had gifted to the Bishop.
Claybrook had attained its completed form by 1869-70 when it was unsuccessfully offered for sale. The residence overlooking the Domain and the harbour was described as having eleven rooms, and cellarage (possibly a reference to the lean-to or outbuildings), and as being well built and in good repair. The house was not described as ‘new’ and no indication was given of its age. A February 1870 notice of auction referred to Kempthorne’s ‘Claybrook House and two acres of land at Parnell’ as a compact and desirable property suitable for a comfortable family residence.
Widowed in 1871, Elizabeth Kissling (1838-1916) returned to the Claybrook property where Kempthorne had a new home constructed at number 1 Claybrook Road for Elizabeth and her children.
Kempthorne died in 1873, the year of his son John Pratt Kempthorne was ordained in England by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Reverend Kempthorne later became an archdeacon, and his son Leonard Stanley Kempthorne (1886-1963) a Bishop of Polynesia.
Marianne died at Claybrook in 1884 and was interred in St Stephens Churchyard, Judges Bay, the burial place of her husband, her companion Sarah Emerton, and a number of early CMS missionaries, clergy and notable founders of Auckland.
Newlywed James Mason, an Auckland nurseryman bought Claybrook in 1885. Born in Surrey, he had taken over management of Mason Brothers’ Parnell nurseries in 1879. The bay window, a popular contemporary feature seen as lending elegance to comparatively plain residences, may have been added during his ownership. The chimneys may also have been modified. In 1888 during a period of prolonged economic depression Mason filed for bankruptcy, one of many casualties of the insolvent Waikato Land Association floated by Auckland business leader Thomas Russell (1830-1904) in 1879.
The house on a greatly reduced site was bought in 1892 by civil servant David Lundon (c.1825-98). Arriving in Auckland from Ireland in 1842, Lundon worked as a baker, tidewaiter at the Port of Auckland, sub-collector at the Thames goldfields, and in other positions in Greymouth and Wanganui before serving as Collector of Customs, Auckland, for a few months before he retired. After the death of the last family member in 1905, Bertha Noble the wife of a telegraphist briefly owned the property.
In 1912 Edward George Britton Moss (c.1856-1916) and his wife Amy bought Claybrook from widow, Angelina Goodwin. Moss, a barrister and solicitor and former member of the House of Representatives for Ohinemuri, was a son of F.J. Moss who had represented Parnell for some years. Edward Moss was the author of the first popular book on local shell collecting, Beautiful Shells of New Zealand, published in 1908.
A circa 1914 plan of Parnell shows the residence with an outbuilding - possibly a washhouse with chimney. The structure located parallel to the kitchen was linked by a wall with gate to enclose a rear service court. Two conjoined corrugated iron sheds occupied the southeast corner of the site. In 1924-5 the renovated house was described as having seven rooms, electric light and telephone and presumably had indoor bathroom facilities.
Elizabeth Wynne-Williams (1841?-1932) the widow of insurance executive Edward Wynn-Williams (d.1921), bought the property in 1928. A sun porch had been created in the verandah by 1931. A dormer window was later added above the verandah, possibly reinstating a dormer removed earlier. Claybrook was described in circa 1945 as having three bedrooms, a sitting room, a living room, a kitchen, two bathrooms (one old), and a small box room.
Conjecture arose in the 1960s and 1970s that the core of the residence might incorporate the earlier four-roomed prefabricated house brought from England in 1842. However, Victoria Cottage evidently occupied a site below present-day Claybrook Road, and was referred to by a descendant in 1960 as ‘now demolished’.
In 1982, Claybrook changed hands ending five decades of Wynn-Williams’ family ownership. The outbuilding was demolished to make way for a conservatory addition. The house resting on brick piles (and at least one tree trunk) was re-piled. The sun porch was removed; the roof was replaced; and an upstairs bathroom was installed, or refurbished. A comparatively modern garage was enlarged and converted into a flat in 1988, necessitating the construction of a new garage behind the main residence in 1990.
The property remains in private residential use.
- Original Construction: 1855 (circa) - 1865 (circa)
- Modification - Create sun porch in verandah: Pre 1931
- Modification: 1988 (circa)
Concrete piles, timber frame and cladding, corrugated metal roof
- Margaret H. Alington, An Excellent Recruit: Frederick Thatcher Architect, Priest and Private Secretary in Early New Zealand, Auckland, 2007
- Martin Hill, Restoring with Style, Wellington, 1985.
- T.G Kissling, The Parish of St Mary Parnell, Auckland, New Zealand, 1860-1960, Auckland, 1960
- Trevor G. Kissling, The Venerable George Adam Kissling a Memoir and family tree of descendants in New Zealand 1842-1972, Auckland, 1972
- Cyril Knight, The Selwyn Churches of Auckland, Auckland, 1972.
- W. P. Morrell, The Anglican Church in New Zealand: A History, Dunedin, 1973
- Una Platts, The Lively Capital: Auckland 1840-1865, Christchurch, 1971
- Jeremy Salmond, Old New Zealand Houses 1800-1940, Auckland, 1986, Reed Methuen
- John Stacpoole, William Mason: The First New Zealand Architect, Auckland, 1971
A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Mid Northern Region Office
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