A Riccarton Ghostly Tale

When one thinks of the Austen Deans – award winning artist, mountaineer, World War II survivor – and the interesting life he crammed into 95 years, one could understand why he was the centre of a ghostly occurrence at Riccarton House that no one can really explain – even today. On the 1st December 1915, …

Douglas Graham (1818 – 1872)

The news of finding coal at Homebush had been pretty exciting for the Deans and all concerned. James McIlraith – Jane Deans’ half brother and manager of Homebush – and Julius van Haast – the founder of the Canterbury Museum – had made the discovery in the late 1870’s. Just two years later, a coal …

Lyttelton’s Immigration Barracks

In January 1850, a shipment of wood from Tasmania arrives at Lyttelton. A jetty and 4 immigration barracks are built – ready for the arrival of the first ships due later that same year. One of the builders was Joseph Johnston who went on to build the first school house that became Christ College and …

Jane Deans (1823 – 1911)

It wasn’t love at first sight for either John or Jane Deans…unbelievable concerning the history they made together. Jane was born at Auchenflower Farm, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 21st April 1823. She was eldest child of farmer/gentleman James McIlraith and his first wife Agnes. When her mother died, Jane became the mother hen of her …

The C.C.C. Purchased Riccarton House – 1947

In 1947, after 104 years in residence (since 1843) and then ownership (since 1851), Riccarton House (built 1856, 1874 & 1900) and its estate leaves the ownership of the Deans family. It is purchased by the Christchurch City Council for £16,500! Since the death of Catherine Edith Deans (daughter-in-law of Jane Deans) 10 years earlier, …