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Lansdowne was one of the first group of large holdings taken up in the central region of the Wairarapa, and the one that there is probably the least written about. The station was first purchased by John Valentine Smith, an early Member of Parliament for the Wairarapa. He had extensive land holdings in the Mataikona-Tinui district, but usually resided in the homestead he built on Lansdowne Station in 1860.

The exact area (one record states 1,000 acres, but known to be 746 acres in 1905) and boundaries are uncertain, but going by the other major holdings in the vicinity, where the rivers of the Waingawa, Ruamahunga, and Waipoua were the boundaries for Donald's central block Manaia. Further out there were Cootes's Matahiwi block and the Opaki block to the North/West. Whilst to the east the Te Ore Ore block took in the land beyond the Ruamahunga. From this we can assume that Lansdowne took in most of the land from the present bridge at Te Ore Ore following the Ruamahunga and the Waipoua as a boundary and north past Hansell's factory. There were Maori reserve blocks within this area.

Smith sold up most of his Wairarapa holdings in the mid 1880's shifting to farm at Whenakura near Patea where he died in 1895. The Williams and Beetham partnership of Brancepeth station, bought Annedale and Lansdowne at that time. By 1900 they had sub-divided some building sections on their Lansdowne holding, and had built a dam for water supply on the land between Opaki Road and the Lansdowne hill, behind the current Hansell's factory. William Beetham had leased then bought from Mr. Wrigley 30 acres of land at Perry Street. There he had built his home Towcett named after family land in England. Then later, on one of his trips back to England he toured France and met and later in 1882 married Marie Zelie Hermanze Frere of Mereuil. The French influence prompted him to purchase grape vines in Picardy, to plant a quarter acre block back home at Towcett. The success of this planting then prompted William to plant an extensive vineyard on the partnership's Lansdowne property, the exact acreage of the vineyard is uncertain but 4 acres were planted in 1892 later producing a crop valued at 800 pounds annually which included bottles of  champagne and pinot noir, noting that pinot noir was particularly suited to the region (funny how in the year 2000 we are discovering how well we can produce pinot noir in the Wairarapa) and by 1901 the cellars contained about 1,964 pounds worth of wine made up of 282 dozen bottles and 5433 gallons in bulk. The quality of the wine from Lansdowne was so good that one of William Beethams friends Tiffen a former surveyor , bought land in Hawkes Bay and established his own vineyard, later to be known as Green Meadows. J.N. Williams also went into wine making. At the time of the division of the Williams and Beetham holdings in 1905, Annie Williams took over most of the Lansdowne holdings, in about 1924, Hugh Williams, decided that the old homestead needed replacing and he built the house now standing. The building was built to plans brought to New Zealand by Hugh Williams, and the local firm of Jenkins Brothers was contracted to carry out the work. The floors, panelling and ceilings were all made of heart rimu whilst the rest of the building was comprised of heart totara. There are over 120 leadlight windows in the house. Hugh had two sons Gareth and Morven (Tim), both became outstanding doctors. The house was sold out of the family in 1957, as part of a major sub-division of the 21 acre estate. The house and 3 acres were sold to the Eastwoods for 4,000 pounds. They in turn sold it to Cherille and Earl Scott who converted it into a restaurant, which they ran for 13 years. Presently, the stately home Lansdowne House is run by Ray and Vivienne Davis as a restaurant and function venue.


NOTE: The information contained here is a result of Des De Stefano's own research and was current at the time he was working on the project.