Hardcastle was built for a handsome, bearded clergyman, the Reverend Isaac Hardcastle Palfreyman, pastor of the Free Methodist Church in Murray Street. He bought the land in 1887 from an unlikely quartet of people-a gentleman, a painter and glazier, a farmer and a widow. Two lots of a sub-division, Numbers 4 and 5, were needed and the cost was £282: 10:0.
Isaac and his wife, Martha, were far from being alone when they moved in, the same year. They already had fifteen children-and there would be two more over the next two years. The naming of their children was also remarkable. In chronological order, there was Amy, Agnes, Addison, Abelard, Athanard, Achalen, Aspacia, Albani and Ayesha. There were brief flirtations with names starting with other initials, but then a return to the A’s with Aristedes, Athol, Arthur and, finally, in 1889, Audibon.
It was just as well, then, that there were three levels of living areas in their new home, as there are to this day. The ground-floor front door opens on to a wide hall, with elaborate ceiling cornices, from which a Kauri pine staircase, with blackwood posts and handrails, leads up to the first floor. A large room to the left of the front door, has cornices like the hall and both have high ceilings. The picture-rails of both front rooms are unusual in that they are not strips of wood, but brass rods with porcelain finials-held to the walls by brackets.
Both front rooms have beautifully fashioned fireplace surrounds, but the over mantel mirror and carefully crafted surround for the left room is in store awaiting reinstatement. The other, of wood and tiles in rich browns, and cast-iron, is in place. In true Victorian style, the four second-floor rooms are plainer, with simpler fireplace-surrounds.
The layout of these rooms is exactly the same as the lower floor; a very generous main bedroom (with ensuite from 1909) and three other good-sized rooms. A narrow and very steep staircase leads to the two rooms at the top of the house. They are in simple, but attractive, Baltic pine, though much of this has been painted by previous owners. The view from the turret is striking-from the Domain in the north to the distant South Arm.
Hardcastle’s restoration is certainly worth every effort the present owners have put into it.