WARWICK HOUSE: Owners Nick and Jenny Ferrier have lovingly restored Nelson’s ‘castle’ back to its former glory and are holding an open day next month. Photo: Kate Russell.

Historic home houses 20,000 guests

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One of Nelson’s most-loved historic homes, Warwick House, has reached a milestone 20,000 visitors – and to celebrate, its owners are opening the doors for the public next month.

Originally known as ‘Sunnyside’, the Brougham St property has been owned by Nick and Jenny Ferrier for the past 13 years.

The couple have lovingly restored the house piece by piece and now run it as a boutique bed and breakfast accommodation.

Known to many Nelsonians as ‘the castle’, it was built in 1854 for wealthy English merchant Alfred Fell. It has changed hands several times – once being used as a gentleman’s boarding house.

Later, in 1941, it was divided up into five internal apartments, and remained that way for 70 years until it was purchased by Nick and Jenny in 2003, along with their three children.

The couple had spent 15 years living overseas and had decided it was time to return back to New Zealand to settle in Nelson.

Funnily enough, they were renting a property right next door to Warwick House, and when the ‘for sale’ sign went up they knew it was meant to be.

It was not until they had moved in that they realised what a ‘grand old lady’ she really was.

“It was pretty run down,” says Jenny. “We didn’t even know we had a ballroom, as the ceiling was lowered when it was divided into flats in the 1940s, to save on heating.”

Grand archways and internal stairways were found behind the false ceilings and walls, and a number of treasures were stumbled upon during the renovations, including a duelling sword tip, the original bell wire system, a hidden wine cellar, several antique doors and the original coal gas piping system.

The renovations were staggered over four years, and although the house was structurally sound, it needed to be re-wired, re-plastered and had no insulation.

Now, as their youngest child leaves home, Nick and Jenny have put it on the market and are looking for someone else to continue the legacy of Warwick House.

“We’re really lucky to have all this,” says Jenny. “We’re both Kiwis and it has been fantastic sharing the house with both locals and internationals.

“You can never rebuild these houses and many of our visitors, especially those from Christchurch, really appreciate it with them losing so many of their heritage buildings.”

The Warwick House open day is on Sunday, 18th September from 1pm. Tours run on the hour of the ballroom wing and guest accommodation. Cost is $10 – includes tour, history talk and a cup of tea. Bookings essential, call 548 3164, email [email protected].