New Zealand, Our Way

Larnach Castle

Larnach Castle

New Zealand's only castle. Consturction was begun in 1871 by Mr. Larnach, who had arrived from New South Wales, Australia to manage the first bank of Otago. About three years were spent on the "shell" of the building by 200 workmen and another 12 years embellishing the interior. The estimated cost was 125,000 pounds, in the days when the ruling wage was one shilling a day. Larnach had married Eliza de Guise, a French heiress which explains the building of such a sumptuous residence.

The style of the building is Gothic revival. The verandahs were glassed in with five-eights optical float glass shortly after the family moved in. The whole building was hand-made using the best of materials, by the best of craftsmen, and the only extensive use of nails, also hand-made, is in the floors. There is 40,000 sq. feet of floor area and 46 servants were employed in its heyday to service and clean the buildings and grounds.

Larnach had three wives and the first two were half-sisters. At that time it was illegal to marry the sister of your deceased wife, so Larnach, taking advantage of his political position, put a private Bill through Parliament enabling him to do so. All three wives died of natural causes. Larnach committed suicide.

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