Central HB: New chapter for homestead

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Established in the mid-1800s, Ashcott Homestead underwent extensive restoration in the 2000s.
Established in the mid-1800s, Ashcott Homestead underwent extensive restoration in the 2000s.

The historic Ashcott Homestead has recently changed hands, marking the start of a new chapter in the life of the building that dates back to the mid 1850s.

Ashcott was established by brothers John and Walter Tucker who came to Hawke's Bay from England in 1855.

After working on other Waipukurau sheep stations for several years, the brothers named Ashcott after their birthplace in Somerset, England, and after clearing the land they laid the foundation for the homestead with two huts joined together.

Walter left New Zealand in the early 1860s and returned to England from where he later emigrated to Canada. John returned to England in 1863 and the following year married Maria Lydia Bayly.

To qualify for a substantial sum of money, being part of her grandfather's bequest, John Tucker changed his surname to A'Deane.

John and Maria had seven children at Ashcott, three sons and four daughters.

Towards the end of the century the house had been extended - most probably by Coles Brothers, joiners and builders from nearby Ongaonga.

The single-storey bungalow with two attic bedrooms was developed to include a large two-storey portion to the south end. Local native totara timber was milled on site for the work.

After John A'Deane's death in 1889, his eldest son John Robert Bayly A'Deane took over the management of the station.

In 1900, he married Margaret Maud Robertson and together they had two daughters, Margaret and Violet.

Ashcott Station continued to develop and was at one time capable of carrying 18,000 sheep and 800 head of cattle. It often hosted notable dignitaries, including Lord and Lady Plunkett, Baden Powell, The Prince of Wales and Prime Minister Richard Seddon.

John Bayly A'Deane died in 1924, but had become a well known philanthropist, with his family also supportive of the local community.

A'Deane Park was donated by a descendant of John A'Deane, and A'Deane's Bush in Ashley Clinton was another gift donated to the district.

By about the 1950s, Ashcott Station employed about 20 estate-hands, a driver, housekeeper, two maids, two gardeners and various stable-hands.

Several managers' houses were also built in places on the station, along with housing for shepherds and farm workers.

Following the death of John Bayly A'Deane's wife, Margaret Maud, in February 1945, Ashcott Estate was divided between their daughters Margaret and Violet. Margaret took Ashcott and about 1200 acres, while Violet took the other half and renamed it The White Pines.

After 1970, the house was locked up and fell into general disrepair, being used simply as a grain store and hay shed.

Throughout that decade it then became a bohemian commune with several well-known artists and potters in residence including Baye Pewhairangi Riddell.

In April 1983, Ashcott was registered with the NZ Historic Places Trust as a Category 2 Listed Building.

As part of the ongoing renovations, the servants wing, stables, and driver's house were demolished.

A new roof was installed courtesy of the Historic Places Trust, and the rear of the house was rebuilt to include a new kitchen.

The new owners are Natalie and David Beamish, who have family connections in Hawke's Bay and are intending to offer boutique bed and breakfast accommodation, together with a small functions facility.

They will be taking possession on July 7.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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