Merchiston is one of the few grand homes of the turn of the century still standing on the farm it was built to serve. The building is in the same condition as it was when the last workman left on the 25th of November 1908. Through four generations Merchiston has been in the care of the family with John and Edith (McKelvie) building it, Lloyd and Betty (Stevens) developing the furnishings and gardens, June Hammond and her husband Lloyd Rowe re-planning the gardens, made major plantings of shrubs and bulbs and landscaping the old lake and bridge. Today Richard, Lloyd, Helen and their partners continue to develop Merchiston with a fifth generation in tow.
21st century Merchiston is a vibrant and varied place, engaged with the local community and has hosted many events over its long history.
It is an architectural jewel in the heart of the Rangitikei, one of New Zealand’s most beautiful landscapes, but it is also a living and working place, earning its keep in the modern world. Merchiston is approached by a long drive lined with macrocarpas and pines planted for shelter and the many deciduous trees such as oaks, ashes, ginkgo’s, chestnuts and linden trees are all under planted with hellebores, bluebells and 1000s of daffodils which make an attractive picture in the spring.
At the front of the house a gravel drive curves around the Baroque Fountain which is made of Oamaru Stone and was the centre attraction at the 1905 – 1906 Christchurch International Exhibition.
The house itself exhibits an extensive 34 rooms and is built of seasoned heart timber and a roof of Marseilles tiles. It took three years to build and was finished in 1908 after a bequest was left to Edith when her father died. The craftsmanship of the builders and the architect J C Maddison are on a world scale, especially around that time.
On top of the house majestically stands a Bell Tower where views of the park like gardens, lake and surrounding farmland can be admired. Living and working here every day, it is sometimes easy to lose sight of what a special place this is, only to be reminded by the overwhelming look on peoples faces of the pleasure it gives to all who visit.