Open Day a Chance to Check Out Truby King House

Thursday 16 October 2008, 9:53PM
By Wellington City Council


Wellingtonians will be able to enjoy jazz favourites this Sunday 19 October while they explore the historic Melrose house and garden where the Plunket Society had its birth.

An open day is being held in Truby King Park from 1.00pm to 4.00pm so people can enjoy and find out more about this intriguing property, which is the former home and final resting place of Plunket Society founders Sir Frederic Truby King and his wife Isabella. Their remains are in a mausoleum in the garden.

Truby King was an avid gardener in later life, planting extensive collections of pines, rhododendrons, azaleas and roses and building elaborate brickwork structures. Wellington City Council has been restoring and replanting the gardens with assistance from the Henderson Conservation Trust and the Truby King House and Garden Trust.

Open day visitors will get to see the garden at its best, while cherry trees, azaleas and rhododendrons are in flower, and have an opportunity to go inside the house, which is normally only open by arrangement.

Local jazz band Primo4tet will be playing, there will be guided tours of the house and garden by supporters and the Friends of the Wellington Botanic Garden, a children's activity corner and refreshments for sale. Local writer Lloyd Chapman, author of In a Strange Garden: The Life and Times of Truby King, will speak at 2.00pm.

The Council's Environment Portfolio Leader, Councillor Celia Wade-Brown, says the 1.9 hectare property has been owned by the Council since 1990, when it was bought to save the house and open space from development

"This charming hill-top park is open daily from dawn to dusk, with its fantastic views and numerous elaborate brick walls and pergolas," she says. "It's a secret treasure that is well worth discovering."

Truby King and his wife co-founded the Plunket Society in 1907 and later founded similar societies in England, Australia, South Africa, India and Canada. The Plunket Society took over the property and the adjacent baby products factory in 1932. The house was used as a dormitory for senior nurses and at other times as Plunket Society offices.

Designed by prominent local architect William Gray Young, the 1923 house has New Zealand Historic Places Trust and City Council heritage listings and lots of original features including wood panelling and an inglenook fireplace.

Truby King Park is in Manchester Terrace at the top of Manchester Street. Take the half-hourly No 23 bus and a short walk from the zoo. Alternatively, parking is available on Manchester Street, Rodrigo Road and Sutherland Road but not in the park itself. A gold coin donation will assist with the gradual restoration of the house.