The history of Merivale or should I say Merevale, isn’t a clear one. There are 3 tales that compete to be fact, all quite different but I was glad to find out that 2 of these stories had a place where they met and this is how maybe the confusion happened.
Charlotte Jackson arrived in Lyttelton in 1851. She had purchased 2 rural sections that combined made 100 acres – from Harper Ave to Papanui Road and Aikmans Road to Merivale Lane. She called her property Merevale, after her brother-in-law Rev Thomas Jackson who was the vicar of Merevale, near Atherstone in Warwickshire, England.
In 1859, she cut her property in half and sold the northern 50 acres to Captain T.H. Withers. In 1862, Charlotte sold the remaining 50 acres to William Sefton Moorhouse who was the Canterbury Superintendent at the time. There he built a fine home he called Jackson’s Hall – half of it still remains (pictured) at 31 Naseby Street – red stickered due to earthquake damage.
In the latter years, the Moorhouse family semi-retired to a farm they called ‘Spreydon’ – now the suburb.
Story 2 also begins in Lyttelton in 1851. John Studholme and his two younger brothers Paul and Michael arrive from Carisle, Cumberland with land orders from the Canterbury Association. They take up their land in the Rakaia but like many of the young men at that time, they can’t resist the lure of gold.
In 1852, the brothers leave their run and head to the Victoria (Australia) goldfields. When they returned to New Zealand, they sailed in a boat that wasn’t heading any further than Nelson. They walked the 320 miles home to Canterbury, following the coast. To add to this feat, John and his brother Michael were one of the first to cross over land from Christchurch to Dunedin and take cattle across the Waitaki River.
John would also serve on the Timaru Provincial Council and was of the directors of the New Zealand Shipping and the Union Insurance Companies. As a member of Parliament, he represented both Kaiapoi and Gladstone.
In 1862, John married Lucy Ellen Sykes Moorhouse, the sister of William Sefton Moorhouse. Here the two stories meet.
It is believed that the term Merevale came from John’s hometown – which has not been proven.
There is no other link with Merivale other than his marriage to Lucy Moorhouse whose brother owned the land in the area.
As late at 1891, the old spelling of Merevale was still in use.
*Photo of Jackson’s Hall taken by Annette Bulovic*