Heritage house's scandalous history

Last Updated : 14 Jul 2020
Beauford House (2)
Originial English cottage. Photo credit: Megan Walker
Beauford House (1)
Tennis pavilion. Photo credit Megan Walker.
Beauford House
Concrete neo-Georgian extension. Photo credit: Megan Walker

Beaufords Reception Centre lies within the grounds of the idyllic Totara Park, Manurewa.

During the first half of its colourful 90-year life, Beaufords served as a luxurious hideaway for prominent and fashionable Aucklanders.

'An unusual juxtaposition'

Boasting an unusual juxtaposition of two styles, the English Cottage half of the house was constructed in the mid-1920s by Arthur Gilles.

The prominent Gunson family, led by Sir James Gunson (former mayor of Auckland), purchased the house in 1932 and added the concrete Neo-Georgian extension shortly after.

The extension and tennis pavilion feature steel-mullioned windows and wooden doors from St Stephen’s College Parnell, which was constructed in the 1850s and demolished in 1931.

Notorious party house

In 1947, the house was sold to Charles Prevost, a wealthy wool merchant who, together with his wife Yvonne, transformed it into a grand holiday retreat. The house was notorious for its glamorous but scandalous parties, often hosted by Yvonne while Charles was away.

NZ's first celebrity divorce

Perhaps inevitably, the house also served as the backdrop to the high profile divorce of Charles and Yvonne in 1952. It was one of New Zealand’s first public ‘celebrity’ divorces and the nation hung on every detail.

In 1968, Charles sold the house to Manukau City Council, and it has been leased as a restaurant and reception rooms since then.

Monitoring Auckland's heritage properties

Auckland Council’s Heritage Unit recently visited this Category A* scheduled historic heritage place as part of the Schedule Monitoring Programme.

The purpose is to establish a programme that monitors the condition and significance of scheduled heritage places.

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