The houseFernside features in one of the original exhibits at The Museum of New Zealand - Te Papa, in Wellington. "On the Sheep's Back" examines the central role of sheep-farming in New Zealand's colonial economy and features photographs of Fernside and items of English furniture from the "Elgar Collection".

In 1839 William Elgar arrived in Wellington Harbour as a boatswain on one of the first immigrant ships, the Tory. His son, Charles William Elgar, and a partner purchased over 8,000 acres to the east of Fernside and later sold it to Charles Johnston Pharazyn. The Pharazyns became one of the largest land-owners in the Wairarapa.

Charles Elgar's links with the influential Pharazyns strengthened when he married Ella Grace Pharazyn. In 1885 Charles purchased 1,134 acres known as Fernside, near Featherston. The Elgars built a large home and filled it with the very best of British antiques. In 1923 a fire completely destroyed the building and its contents. Only a single photograph the first Elgar home remains.

The houseThe second home at Fernside was built in 1924. Architect Heathcote Helmore created a Georgian residence in the style of his tutor, Sir Edwin Lutyens. Lutyens amassed over 550 commissions including the house for the Viceroy of India (now the home of the President of India) in New Delhi. His other works include the fountains and paving at Trafalgar Square in London

The Elgars, for a second time, amassed a fine collection of antiques. Ella Elgar set about making Fernside the meeting place for visiting aristocracy and the "rich and famous". Lord Bledisloe described Fernside as "... my favourite New Zealand country home because of its elegance, appointments and delightful garden setting."

Charles Elgar died at the nearby Tauherenikau race-track in 1930 and Ella left Fernside some 10 years later. Fernside was subsequently purchased as a residence for the American Ambassador and is one of very few land titles in New Zealand that bears the inscription "The Government of the United States of America".
The history and mythology of Fernside is extensive. While stories of Fernside and the Elgars abound, distilling the facts from Fernside mythology is difficult. The trustees responsible for Fernside are compiling material with the intention of preparing a definitive Fernside history.

Back to Fernside

Home / Accommodation / Lower North Island

Contact Information
+61 7 3876 4644
+61 7 3876 4645
[email protected]
Travel Online
The TravelOnline Trademark (TM) is registered to Travel Online Pty Ltd.
Web Site � 2002 Travel Online Pty Ltd.