17 May 2014

"Brooklands" Fireplace

"Brooklands" Fireplace

New Plymouth’s first Magistrate, Captain Henry King, R.N.(1783-1874) and his wife Mary Ann (1791-1883) established the original Brooklands homestead in 1842-43. It was here, tradition has it, that the first cheese was made in Taranaki and King's farmstead became one of the agricultural showplaces of the fledgling New Zealand Company settlement.

The fireplace marks the site of Brooklands.  The house was first occupied in March 1843. It  was abandoned during the First Taranaki War of 1860-61 and was burned by Māori forces in March 1861.

 “Several houses were fired by the rebels last night, and between 5 and 6 this morning dense masses of black smoke gave notice that Brooklands, Captain H. King’s residence, with outbuildings, barns, stabling, &c. was given to the flames. Brooklands is overlooked by Marsland hill garrison and is not more than 600 yards from the military Fort in the Carrington road. The guard turned out, followed by the Fort Herbert natives and some shots were fired…” (T Herald 16 March 1861)

About 1898, the name was used again for a large mansion, built here by the estate’s then owner, local businessman Newton King (1856-1926) – no relation to Captain Henry - and his wife Mary. A celebrated garden was then created at Brooklands under the guidance of the King’s head gardener, Thomas Boulton.

Newton King's trustees gifted Brooklands to New Plymouth Borough Council in March 1934 in place of a number of individual bequests to the town’s various parks. The King’s house was demolished soon after. It stood about where the cycad plantings are on the lawn overlooking the Bowl of Brooklands.

 Here is my sketch:

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