History Trail

History Timeline Of The Stone Shed


A sketch map drawn by Edwin Fairburn shows Paihia in 1833. Since this map was made from memory some time later and therefore not contemporary, there is margin for error regarding the number of buildings and their placement.

However, this map does show a building approximately near the site of the stone shed. A pen and ink sketch of the Paihia Mission Station by Mary R. Williams in 1852 has as one of its labelled items: "9. Horotutu Point, behind which is the store of H. & J. Williams". This confirms the existence of a trading store at

Horotutu. The size of the building shown in Edwin Fairburn's sketch suggests that it is not the stone shed, but it may well have been. This gives credence to the supposition that the store used by Henry and John Williams was in fact the stone shed. [Click on the picture above to see whole map.]

Williams House Paihia - sketch map drawn by Edwin Fairburn showing Paihia in 1833


Hugh Carleton married Lydia Jane Williams, youngest daughter of Henry Williams. They had no children. They would have required their own house to live in and it would have been built on land at Horotutu. When this was done is unknown, but it it is quite possible that it was built before they were married.

A water colour painting by Thomas Hutton in 1859 shows three buildings at Horotutu approximately on the site of Canon Percy Temple Williams' future property. The artist (or some later person) has labelled the painting as being of "Henry

Williams house & premises from behind Horotutu". As Henry Williams never lived at Horotutu, this may be incorrect and the house shown is likely that of another Williams family member.

It is possible that this annotation referred to the third son of Henry Williams, also named Henry. However, this is unlikely since by this time the younger Henry would have been working the land acquired at Pakaraka by Henry Williams senior. Another explanation could be that is was formerly occupied by Henry Williams junior and was now to become the home of Lydia and Hugh Carleton. All of which lends more mystery to the age of the stone shed.

Examination of the painting suggests that the other two buildings shown are near the current site and are likely to be the Carleton's residence. The smaller building on the right is probably the stone shed as it has no chimney. Although it appears to have windows where there are none on the stone shed, it is always possible that the shed when first built had windows as shown that were later removed, or the painting depicts the windows incorrectly.

(Footnote: Thomas Hutton, the artist of this painting, was married to Lydia's older sister Sarah.)

Williams House Paihia - water colour painting by Thomas Hutton showing Horotutu in 1859


According to D. B. Silver: [Carleton, Hugh Francis - Biography, (from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand)]: Hugh Carleton returned to England in 1878 and died at his home in Lewisham, London in 1890.

There have been possible associations of Lydia Carleton teaching the Yorke and Joyce children in the stone shed during the 1880s. Is this likely to have happened, given that Lydia would most likely have left with her husband to travel to England? Or had they separated for some reason?

Nothing can be found to support either hypothesis, other than a reference in A Book in the Hand: Essays on the History of the Book in New Zealand: Three: Tampering with the sacred text: The second edition of the Māori Bible by Peter Lineham, pages 33-34. "More work was done by Henry Williams's daughter Mrs Lydia Jane Carleton in England. She found that the last-minute textual changes had led to many inaccuracies." This places Lydia Carleton in England in 1887.

Given that it is recorded that Lydia died at Napier in 1891; she must have returned to live in the Te Aute area, (where her brother Samuel Williams had provided for Williams family members), at some time prior to that. It is most likely that she did this after Hugh died in London.


Salmond Architects, in what is known as the Salmond Report: [Williams House, Paihia, Bay of Islands - A Conservation Plan; June 1997], state that Williams House is built slightly above the site of the Carleton House. This would place it further below the stone shed, yet this photograph taken of the Horotutu area in 1916 shows only the stone shed standing on the site.

There is also no evidence of any other buildings in the general area of where the Carleton House must have been. How does this fit with the popular belief that Canon Percy Temple Williams had

Williams House Paihia - Horotutu in 1916 showing very little sign of habitation

the Carleton House demolished to make way for his house? Although the date of the photograph could be incorrect and it could be 1919, if the Carleton House had just been demolished there should be ample evidence of this in the photograph.

According to the Salmond Report [page 14]; "Percy Williams demolished that building [the Carleton House] to make way for his new house, leaving only a small stone outhouse and some stone steps." However, in Protecting Paradise In Paihia - The Story Of Williams House And Gardens by Fiona Craig, there is a quote from former Paihia resident Minna Bedggood: "One more old ruin, the last I can recall, had belonged to a Mr.Carleton. His wife was a daughter of the Reverend Henry Williams, There was only a small part of the house standing, in which Thomas Joyce stored hay. This place, other than the foundations of William Williams' home, was the only sign of any habitation in Horotutu Bay." This would seem to agree with what can be seen in the 1916 photograph, with the only sign (other than the stone shed) being a remnant of stonework just to the right of the poplar trees in the centre.


In 1920, Canon Percy Williams had his house built on the site of the former Carleton house. After clearing the remains of the old house, he retained the stone shed for use on his estate.

According to local Paihia historian Maureen Yorke, Percy had stone repair work done on it - mostly on the one side that had been attached to the house; and it was given a new roof. This could explain the difference in roof shape between the shed shown in the 1859 Thomas Hutton

painting and the present stone shed. The picture above was taken in the Williams family garden some years later in the 1920s.

Williams House Paihia - a 1920s picture showing the stone shed in Williams House garden


Acting on behalf of the Mission Heritage Trust and following the ratings outlined in the ICOMOS (International Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites) New Zealand Charter for the Conservation of Places of Cultural Heritage Value; Salmond Architects assessed the stone shed overall as "A - items of exceptional significance", (Salmond Report p39).

This rating is for; "Items or spaces which should be preserved and protected at all costs. Only processes of maintenance, stabilisation,

restoration, reconstruction or reinstatement are appropriate for such features." They noted that all aspects of the shed were of this highest rating, with the exception of an unglazed opening in the south-west wall gable area and the modern, painted, cement plaster.

The unglazed opening was given a "b" rating, which was for "items which should be preserved and protected where they do not conflict with the conservation of a feature of higher heritage value." The plaster was given an "intr" rating, which was for "items which are intrusive on conservation values."

Because of the historical significance of the stone shed, it was registered with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust and given a Category 2 rating, (as a Historic Place of "historical or cultural heritage significance or value"). Follow this link for the entry in the NZHPT register.

Williams House Paihia - the stone shed in 1996 before restoration started


In September 2004, vandals rammed a back corner of the stone shed. Prompt action from the Historic Places Trust and the Far North District Council had the damaged corner propped up to minimise further deterioration.

The following year the Friends of Williams House Paihia Library consulted with all relevant parties, including the Williams family, to investigate the possibility of restoration. In Fiona Craig's book, Protecting Paradise In Paihia, (p.129), there is an account of the restoration of the stone shed.

Kerikeri stone mason Dennis McCondach estimated roughly $9,000 of remedial work was needed, but that rose to $11,000 when it was discovered that the front wall, (the north wall, shown in the picture above), had badly subsided. The effects of this can be seen in the photograph below of the west wall, where large cracks had appeared.

"Whoever plastered the stone shed had done a good job," observed Dennis. "That's the only reason it's lasted so long, because the local brown stone the shed is made of deteriorates over time."

To correct the subsidence of the front wall considerable excavation had to be made. A substantial concrete slab was then poured to under-pin the unstable section and prevent further subsidence.

The last part of the stone work restoration was to apply a lime slurry from what had been left from the Kerikeri Stone Store project to help protect the stone work and mortar from further weathering.

Work also was carried out on clearing the undergrowth around the shed to allow for the restoration of some of Mary Williams' garden beds.

The last work to be carried out was in September 2006 when the Friends financed the final "tidy up" of the shed. Replacement guttering was installed on the eaves and the roof, barge boards, gable ends and door were painted.

A month later the Friends arranged the official opening of the restored stone shed on behalf of the Far North District Council. Guests included; Stuart Park from the Historic Places Trust, Deputy Mayor Laurie Byers, and members of the Williams, Joyce and Yorke families.

Since the completion of the restoration there has been a continual problem with vandals tagging the clean, white walls of the stone shed. Such attacks are dealt with swiftly by Dennis McCondach applying another coat of lime wash after the worst of the graffiti is cleaned.

The installation of motion-activated spotlights and an additional floodlight, paid for by the Friends, at the rear of Williams House has reduced the frequency of the vandalism incidents.

A security camera system, financed by the Far North District Council, was installed around Williams House following an arson attempt in September 2014. This has further deterred vandals from damaging the house and grounds.

Williams House Paihia - a view from the south side of the stone shed in 2005
Williams House Paihia - a view from the east side of the stone shed in 2005 showing stonework restoration
Williams House Paihia - a view of the north side of the stone shed following restoration


The Friends commissioned Workshop E to design and construct a display facility within the stone shed to complete our intention to provide a museum displaying the many uses of the shed over the years.

Workshop E has designed a sealed and lit display cabinet to be placed in the centre of the floor space. This will provide a suitable environment and a large degree of security for the artefacts intended for display. There are also interpretive signs that explain details of the display and the shed.

Arrangements have been made to allow public access to view the museum and also the pumphouse. The doors are open from 9.00am to 5.00pm daily with free admission. To complement the History Trail brochure that is under production, the Friends hope to also provide a small brochure outlining the many artefacts displayed.

Williams House Paihia - display case concept
Williams House Paihia - some of the historic artefacts from the stone shed

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