History & heritage, Things to do  |  8 Mar 2023

An Edwardian garden party will help raise funds to restore the damaged bathhouse at historic Mona Vale Homestead.

The bathhouse suffered damage in the Canterbury earthquakes and is yet to be repaired.

Some funding is currently set aside in the Long Term Plan, however due to budget constraints the work has been deferred until 2029.

The Friends of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens are beginning a fundraising campaign to help with the cost of restoration.

They are hosting an Edwardian Garden Party at Mona Vale Homestead from 3pm – 6pm on Sunday 12 March, which will be attended by the Mayor and Mayoress. 

“We are very fortunate to have the support of the Friends and delighted that they are assisting in this project with a fundraising campaign,” says Christchurch City Council Botanic Gardens and Garden Parks Director, Wolfgang Bopp.

“It is a beautiful building and deserves to be restored to its former glory and the generous assistance of the Friends’ campaign will mean this can happen sooner rather than later.

“We would very much like to bring that timeframe forward to prevent any further deterioration,” says Mr Bopp.

The Mona Vale bathhouse was designed to replicate an Edwardian conservatory and functioned as an indoor swimming pool as well as growing a rare collection of sub-tropical plants imported by wealthy heiress, Annie Townend.

A keen gardener, Ms Townend bought the property - then known as Karewa - for $6,000 pounds in 1905. She changed its name to Mona Vale, added another nine acres and built the two bridges and the gatehouse. 

The bathhouse was built between 1905 and 1914 and was intended to resemble the conservatory at Glenmark Station, her father’s property in Waipara.

Mona Vale passed into public hands in 1969 when its then-owners, Church of the Latter Day Saints, sought to demolish and subdivide the aging property. Public outcry led local councils to purchase and restore it.

Over the years, artists, photographers and horticultural groups made use of the iconic bathhouse, as did the many visitors who passed through Mona Vale.

Tickets for An Edwardian Garden Party at Mona Vale Homestead on Sunday 12 March include bubbles, canapes and croquet on the lawn and can be purchased here.