The treasures of Broadgreen Historic House

The treasures of Broadgreen Historic House

Conservator Anne Peranteau visited Broadgreen, an historic house in the Stoke neighborhood, to give some advice on the display and storage of collection items. Anne tells us about some of her favourite items in the Broadgreen collections. 

Last month I filled my suitcase with my tricks of the trade and headed to Nelson.

I brought an assortment of archival materials, needles, pins, knives with retractable blades and a few arms made out of Dacron and surgical stockinette. (What did the airport bag scanners have to say about this I wonder?).

The purpose of my visit was to assist small museums in the area by providing advice about display and storage of their collections.

Workshops have both theoretical and practical components and are organized by National Services Te Paerangi.

Workshop participants came from regional museums in Motueka, Takaka and Nelson. Photo by A. Peranteau, copyright Te Papa.
Workshop participants came from regional museums in Motueka, Takaka and Nelson, 2016. Te Papa

I was hosted Sally Papps, curator at Broadgreen.

The house, built in 1855, is bursting with historic treasures that tell the unique story of Edmund and Martha Buxton and their six daughters.

Broadgreen Historic House in Stoke, Nelson. 2016. Wiki commons

The experience and the value of the historic house is greater than the sum of its parts – the ability to occupy the spaces and view the entirety of the contents together in an historical architectural context is quite remarkable (the contents of Broadgreen are not original to the house, but a representative collection from many of Nelson’s early settlers).

But there are also some knock out objects, such as a pair of 1830s silk gowns, brought to New Zealand by James and Alicia Townsend and their 10 children.

The Townsends arrived in Lyttelton on the Cressy on 27th December 1850 and the gowns were donated more than a century later by a family based in Eastbourne, Wellington.

Brown silk dress, 1830s, brought to New Zealand on the Crescent by Alicia Townsend (Burgess). In the collection of Broadgreen House. Photo by A. Peranteau, copyright Te Papa.
Brown silk dress, dating from the 1830s, brought to New Zealand on the Cressy by Alicia Townsend (Burgess). In the collection of Broadgreen House, 2016. Te Papa

Broadgreen’s collections also include a dress worn by Rose Frank, assistant to photographer William Tyree.

Frank was somewhat unusual for her time, being only 30 when she took over management of Tyree’s Trafalgar St. studio and gas generator business in 1895.

Tyree never returned from his Australian business trip and Frank bought the business in 1914 (the photographic negatives from the business were donated to Turnbull Library and Nelson Provincial Museum).

Another favorite object of mine was this bizarre umbrella stand encrusted with broken toys.

I don’t know the story here, but as one who has vacuumed up many a Lego and broken toy strewn about the house, I strongly relate and can easily imagine how it came into existence.

Umbrella stand at Broadgreen house. Photo by A. Peranteau.
Umbrella stand at Broadgreen house, 2016. Te Papa

I was glad to be able to help support the care and display of these relatively small but valuable and unique collections, many of them with national as well as local importance.

Wherever you are travelling to this summer, stop by the local museum or historic house and have a look inside.  Even better – make a donation!


  1. James and Alicia Townsend were my 3rd great grandparents so I was really excite to see the dress! Annabel

    1. Author

      Hi Annabel, that’s very exciting! Great to hear that the post was helpful in connecting you with the dresses and I hope you get to see them in person soon.

  2. I think the umbrella stand is one I helped my grandmother Phyllis Boyes (nee Thompson) make in the 1960s! She was on the original committee when Broadgreen became an historic house. Before that the Langbein side of my family lived in it. My grandfather Fritz (Fred) Langbein ( and his siblings grew up there.

    1. Author

      Wow! Prue thanks for that insight into this strange and wonderful object.

  3. This bizarre 3-D style umbrella holder is quite extraordinary. I’ve made several commissioned pieces like it over the years including lamps and table tops and vases out of antique china shards, but I’ve never seen anything similar. Any background on this such as what era it was made? It looks like it may have been more recent, using vintage pieces. I guess you give the answer to my question when you state you don’t know what the story is with this piece.

    1. Author

      Hi Darian, thanks for writing in. I enjoy your blog posts! I am doing some “peer group research” using that incredibly vigorous and reliable method that is Facebook, and will let you know if anyone has spotted anything in their collections. Could have been a thing, you never know.

    2. Hi Anne,
      It always surprises me who reads the blog, lots of people apparently. It’s now a quarterly journal…for the time being. Message me and I’ll put you on the mailing list.

  4. The Townsend family arrived on the ship “Cressy” in 1850 rather than the “Crescent”

    1. Author

      Thanks for alerting us to that error Tony, we’ve updated the post. Cheers.

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