Leontine Standish was described as a charming, graceful social butterfly. She must have been that and more as she caught the eye of a Count who clearly adored her – Gerald Gustaus Ducarel, the 4th Marquis de Lapasture. They were married in England on the 4th July 1864.
Even though Gerald was from a long French noble family line, his grandfather it seemed never let that bother him as he moved his life and his line to England in 1791. Gerald, just like his Grandfather before him, let nothing get in his way as he too packed up his life, along with Leontine – known as Lilly – and moved to the uncertainty of Canterbury, New Zealand.
You can imagine the stir it caused to have a Count and his Countess arrive in the Amuri area where they purchased just over 200,000 acres, opening a sheep station named St Helen’s. Sharing this adventure was Gerald’s younger sibling Henry and together the brothers ran a good business and were popular with their pioneer neighbours. The St Helen’s Homestead stood just a mile away from what is now the township of Hanmer Springs.
Tragically on the 8th April 1869, Lilly died during child-birth. She was only 26 years old. I believe at the time of her death, the pair were living at their Christchurch home of Springfield, Merivale, now remembered as Springfield Road. She was buried in the Barbadoes Street Cemetery, Christchurch.
Gerald’s next wife, Georgina Loughan, was living in Avonside. The pair married on 20th May 1873 and then returned to England to live.
Henry stayed on at St Helen’s and then retired to Opawa, year unknown. He sold the station to a Mr. W.A. Low who in turn sold to the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Company in 1897.
Lilly Countess de Lapasture – as it reads on her grave – is still remembered today in the naming of the Countess Stream which is located along side Mt Culverden, below Montrose Road, near Mouse Point.
*photos taken by Annette Bulovic*