Jessica and Liam Donaldson are looking for a new owner who will love their large, grand old Marton house and garden as much as they have.

The pair bought Royston, on the outskirts of Marton, in 2011. They paid $465,000.

They have reroofed it, totally refurbished its interior, modernised kitchens and bathrooms, and kept up the garden. In July 2017 Rangitīkei District Council listed its capital value as $575,000.

The property went on the market in late January, listed with REMAX real estate agent Carol Lewis.


There has been a lot of interest, Jessica Donaldson said.

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Royston, with six bedrooms, five living areas and many trees in the 0.8ha grounds, is one of Marton's "incredible old houses hidden away from the road".

The Donaldsons lived in it for five years. Then they moved to Wellington for work, and they have only been in Marton for weekends during the past two years.

"We don't get up as much as we would like to. Emotionally and mentally, we have moved on."

Royston looked like this in a 1910 photograph. Photo / supplied
Royston looked like this in a 1910 photograph. Photo / supplied

Royston was built in 1896 for Marton lawyer John Miles. It was modelled after an English country house.

Miles was mayor of Marton from 1913-15 and he liked to have the latest technology. The house initially had gas lighting, and in the early 1900s was one of the first in Marton to get electricity.

It still has a set of Italian pewter lights, dating back to the 1900s. And there are still bells to summon servants, though they are no longer connected.


The grounds were once 3ha, with a long drive lined by plane trees, a croquet lawn, a tennis court and a walled secret garden. The Donaldsons are keen gardeners.

"It's not a chore to go there and garden for the weekend."

The property has had many owners. For a short time in the 1930s it was called Wavertree, and was a men's boarding house. At other times it has provided bed and breakfast accommodation, and offered high teas in the garden.

Though its grounds have been reduced it is still a beautiful garden, Donaldson said, and the house needs nothing else done to it.

"There's so much space, and you can really just spread out and enjoy yourself. During the summers our children lived outside, and played in the ponds. It's a magical place to grow up in."