Dame Ngaio Marsh, 1895-1982, one of New Zealands most remarkable and charismatic women, was world-renowned as a leading crime fiction writer and as an eminent Shakespearian producer. Her works to this day still command international acclaim.
The Ngaio Marsh house suffered only minor damage during the 4 September, 2010 earthquake. It was fortunate in its location on the lower Cashmere Hills where the impact was less than in other areas of the city and Canterbury; the house being of timber construction was also an advantage. One chimney had to be demolished and the other has been strapped up. The front steps have needed to be re-secured and the sewerage pipe was broken. Rapid repairs were made.
The house was well shaken, creating a considerable mess with small items and books widely distributed over the floor. However, nothing of special significance was lost apart from a few pieces from Ngaioís glass collection.
The earthquake of 22 February, 2011 caused greater havoc through the city. Although the houseís fabric was again relatively undamaged there were further breakages inside. It is anticipated that adequate repairs can be made and it will be some time before all this is completed. Repeat visitors will notice little difference.
It is lucky that the house remains basically as it was and is still open to visitors.
Her home, which has been enlarged over the years, was built when Ngaio was just ten, and was designed by leading Christchurch architect Samuel Hurst Seager. Visitors to this unique property can gain an understanding of her life and work as well as a captivating insight into her private world.
Discover the family treasures and antiques she collected from around the world, see where her most famous works were composed, and imagine the elegant parties in the Long Room. Her home remains much as she left it, as if she has simply stepped out momentarily and will soon return to take up her Waterman pen with its distinctive green ink. A relatively unknown aspect of her life was her interest in painting. The house contains several examples which illustrate her talent.
If you are a fan of Ngaio Marsh's crime fiction, have a love of Shakespeare, or an interest in the development of New Zealand art between the wars, a visit to the house is a must. If you know nothing of this remarkable lady's life and works you will find a visit to the house equally rewarding. If you are interested in a noted Australian heritage professionalís account of a visit, please click here.
Viewing is by appointment only. For a guided tour, which will bring the house to life, please ring the curator at 64 3 337 9248 (International) or 03 337 9248 (New Zealand).
Admission is $10 per person in a group of 2 - 10 people and $15 for an individual tour. Allow one hour for tour. The Ngaio Marsh House operation is wholly run by volunteers, and so we advise that it is most unlikely that prospective visitors will be able to telephone a booking and visit the House on the same day. For this reason pre-booking is essential and will be confirmed by the Chief Guide or one of the duty guides. Your patience with this arrangement is greatly appreciated.
37 Valley Rd, Cashmere, off Sherwood Lane, Christchurch, New Zealand.
Click here to see the flyer.