Wide Eyed Wandings – Larnach Castle, Dunedin, NZ

Larnach 1

While enjoying our stay at Broad Bay, NZ, we took a trip to one of the Otaga Penninsula’s premier tourist attractions, Larnach Castle.

The property is not actually a Castle but rather a lavishly built private home built 1871 by William Larnach, merchant baron and politician. It took more than 200 workmen three years to build the Castle shell and master European craftsmen spent a further 12 years embellishing the interior. Larnach spared no expense on his dream home, which features the finest materials from around the world.1

Referred to simply as “the camp” by William Larnach when the initial construction was completed in 1874 2, it was designed as a lavish home for his beloved first wife Eliza. The home’s grandeur has been lovingly restored from the gothic entry to the elaborate mosaic floor inlaid with tiles proclaiming the home “The Camp.”

Statuary and sweeping spiral staircases with rich balustrades abound, but it is the exquisite details that captured my eye. The elaborate carved ceiling tiles, the fireplace mosaics, and the glass panels sporting a stained glass image of a cat, a frequent icon at the castle.

Climbing the narrow rock stairwell to the tower, one can almost feel the castle’s history. It is one steeped in tragedy, family drama, death and betrayal.3 After William Larnach’s suicide in 1898, the family fell to ruin squabbling over his estate. Larnach Castle passed through many hands and fell to shambles until it was purchased in 1967 and lovingly restored by the Baker family in whose care it remains today.

The view from the top of the tower, is not to be missed and worth every foreboding step. A different angle reveals the entrance to the gardens which we’ll take a look at next time. Our tour included High Tea at the Ballroom Cafe which completed this delightful excursion into late-Victorian era life.

When visiting Dunedin, NZ, make sure to take a little side trip and take in the grandeur and history of Larnach Castle.

Til next time ~Peace ~JPP

2wikipedia.com

3Audio tour of Larnach Castle, available with admission

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