Barton homestead; 'The Manor House', Trentham.
When Mr Wilfred Barton took me to see the old Home, it still container family furniture, portraits and records.
But its useful life was over. It was riddled with borer and falling into decay.
So I was only just in time to make a record of this most interesting and historical old building, and so far as I know there is no other. I suggested that it should be carefully measured and rebuilt in permanent materialbut the time was the great depression and this made little appeal.
So now the romantic old place is gone forever. It was just after the great earthquake of I think 1853 or near that date that the first portion of the house was built. In case there should be another, some heavy timbers were used in the foundation and a whole Birch tree, (its head lopped off) was encased in the structure to hold the house up more safely.
Because of possible attack by the Maories, the walls were filled with stones to stop bullets, and only skylights were used till that danger was over.
When the settlers were evacuated because of the danger of attack, Mrs John Barton refused to go. She had made friends with the Maories and they loved her.
However no attack was made and the danger passed. So the little cannon mounted on the verandah was never 'needed.
A large amount of white pine (kahikatea) was used in the early part of the building, the danger of borer not being then known. Many of the rafters were large Manuka poles trimmed and straightened The borer did not take them, but the kahikatea was riddled when I saw it, and restoration was hopeless.
I am not able to write a history of the old house, but if one were to be written, my pictures would serve to illustrate it. So much of our early pioneering days and doings is being, lost. It seems a pity.
The following text came from a newspaper interview with Brian Rabbitt :
"The Barton Homestead was a constant reminder of the area's first settler, Richard Barton, when Brian was a lad. It started as a slab whare in 1841 and was probably added onto. Here it is seen standing in what is now the native bush in Trentham Memorial Park facing Fergusson Drive at the intersection of Camp Road. Mr Rabbit remembers the house being demolished around 1939 (actually 1938).The timber was going to be used to build huts for a Scout Jamboree where General Motors stands today. But war intervened. The Jamboree was never held and the shortage of eggs due to the war led the wood to be used for building fowl houses by farmer Ken Geange."
The house is described in another 'Leader' article, by one of the Scouts who demolished it in 1938; some walls were 20 cm thick, filled with shingle; the kitchen and basement had shingle floors, possibly from a former river bed. Eventually the house had five front doors, half a dozen staircases, 22 rooms and a two-seater outside toilet.
The house was full of borer, and had been abandoned and vandalised for a number of years before being demolished by Scouts for use in a Jamboree; they discovered that all the timber had been pit-sawn and planed by hand, and that walls had not been removed when the various additions were made. In two cases, tree trunks had been left standing, and walls had been built around them.
Old house; Barton homestead album 6; 'The Manor House', Trentham; east side; Silver Stream in foreground.
Old house; Barton homestead album 10; 'The Manor House', Trentham; the Silver Stream, in Barton's Bush.
Old house; Barton homestead album 7; 'The Manor House', Trentham; the Silver Stream, in the bush further down.