Courtyard Envy

Last weekend we ventured into the hills behind Napier. This is a zone that during all the time we’ve lived here we’ve never explored. We were lured by an open home – more than that – an open stately home of the sort only Hawke’s Bay can provide. We were of course NOT rubbernecking, as this is exactly the sort of house I would buy should $1.5 million suddenly attach itself to my bank balance.

The house had been built in 1906, the same year as this house but instead of being designed for a semi prosperous farmer to retire to, the house in question had been designed by the architect C. T. Natusch for the young wife of an Edwardian run-holder who, finding the station homestead too rural, had asked for and got a town house.

Called Silverford the house is a lovely mock Tudor number, with a low sprawling u-shaped plan. It is set in large gardens and comes with a small vineyard. The house is approached via a long oak tree-lined driveway and has any number of additional charms not least of all the remnants of an Edwardian garden, including a large, almost silted up, ornamental lake and a crochet lawn.

However the great surprise of the house is a beautiful courtyard that sits in the shelter of the u-shaped plan. It can be viewed from inside the house by a glass-lined hall that runs behind the formal rooms of the house. Doors open into the courtyard and it can also be accessed from the open end between the two bedroom wings.

Above the courtyard an ornamental grape and a second climber have been growing contentedly for some years along a network of wires. As this was early spring – it wasn’t hard to imagine how delightful that space was going to be in high summer.

Back at home – after lunch at the local pub – our brand new pergola seems rather bare. It is, as yet, unfinished, as is the carport that will turn our L-shaped house into a U-shaped one and provide the sheltered privacy of Silverford. The sun here is already getting intense and the sheltering leaves of a grape seems a very attractive proposition indeed. It’s an idea we’ll pinch. Where to fit the crochet lawn is however an altogether more difficult proposition.


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2 Responses to Courtyard Envy

  1. Michelle says:

    Although a croquet lawn would be much nicer.

  2. Eloise says:

    I had always thought the New Zealand obsession with an expansive ‘view’ from any outside sitting place meant that the idea of a cosy courtyard had rather passed us by.

    But without a doubt those Southern Europeans were certainly onto a good thing and I’m not surprised the occasional British emigrant made use of the idea as soon as he could build a house in a climate that allowed him to make use of such a spot more than three or four times a year.

    I’m sure the decoration of an outdoor room will be an especially pleasurable one.

    ps. I like the idea of a lawn for crocheting in, it wouldn’t have to be nearly so big as one for croqueting if you can manage squeeze it in …

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