Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

At Darfield's magnificent Bangor Estate, you can peel back the generations of owners to the 1850s, says current owner Debbie Francis.

"The lovely thing about these old houses is all the various families who have grown up in them."

Debbie lives in the estate's grand country homestead with daughters Annabel and Charlotte. They bought the 32ha property just under four years ago.

"It was sold as is, where is, as it had suffered damage in the Canterbury earthquakes," she says. "It wasn't a rebuild, we have fixed it up.


"Because the chimneys have come out, my engineer Sean Gardiner from Calibre said the house is now safer than it has ever been.

She respects the rich history attached to Bangor Estate. Records show that Irish aristocrat Viscount Bangor had sent his descendants to Canterbury and he specified this estate be planted out as a 20-acre park for the house to sit in the middle.

The elms, oaks and ashes were planted in 1854 and the first house was stone. This is now the underground cellars of the homestead that was built on top, Debbie thinks, probably in the late 1800s.

509 Bangor Rd, Darfield. Photo / Supplied
509 Bangor Rd, Darfield. Photo / Supplied

The homestead features neoclassical and gothic influences, a reference to the architectural design of the settlers' ancestral home, Castle Ward in Ireland.

"One of the loveliest things is, when I am mowing the lawns, going around all the magnificent trees and imagining the beginning of the property and appreciating that somebody did this for other people to enjoy," says Debbie.

During the restoration, the homestead was reroofed and "every board that wasn't good was taken off and replaced."

She retained the kitchen's open fireplace as it hadn't been damaged in the quake; but the home's main source of heating is a diesel boiler supplying 27 water filled radiators.

"This home has been built specifically to capture all the light. It is homely, sunny and bright."


The home has verandas downstairs and upstairs, along two sides.

509 Bangor Rd, Darfield. Photo / Supplied
509 Bangor Rd, Darfield. Photo / Supplied

The front door opens into a hallway and staircase. On the left is a drawing room, on the opposite is the library and sitting room. Two "massive bedrooms" each have bathrooms and a conservatory-sitting room.

Also on the downstairs level are a laundry, office, toilet, the original scullery. The large kitchen started life as the Trinity Church in Darfield, and was added to the house about 70 years ago.

"It has been converted to a kitchen with a couple of sitting areas, a large table and chairs — and it has a lovely big pitched ceiling. We practically live in here, it is a fabulous room."
Upstairs, all four bedrooms have bathrooms.

And there are two guest cottages. "This house had been run as a boutique hotel," says Debbie.

Bangor Estate is reached by a long driveway, about 1km in from the road. Views include the Southern Alps, which is where this family heads in the winter for the ski slopes.

509 Bangor Rd, Darfield. Photo / Supplied
509 Bangor Rd, Darfield. Photo / Supplied

"We can be on top of the mountain easily within an hour of leaving the house, that is Mt Hutt. Porter Heights is even closer.

The property has a heated pool, triple garaging, and its equestrian facilities include seven stables, all-weather show jumping arena and 17 paddocks. A bore draws water from an underground river voted the best water in the country, says Debbie.

The family are selling to move to Taupo as Annabel is part of the youth programme for the New Zealand show jumping squad, and the move will make it easier for them to travel overseas.

Debbie says this house has meant a lot to people over the generations, and she has loved sharing it with friends. "You are buying into a very important part of history.

"I love this place. It will be a sad day when I drive out that drive."

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