I’ve lived in Australia for decades now but the first 17 years of my life were spent in Dunedin, New Zealand. It’s a pretty enough city with interesting architecture and gorgeous gardens but the weather is way too cold.
One of the attractions in Dunedin is Larnach’s Castle built in the 1870s by William Larnach.
Larnach was married three times and had six children. He was pre deceased by his first two wives and his eldest daughter, Kate. He took his own life in the New Zealand parliament buildings in 1898.
The Castle has its fair share of ghost stories, mostly based around the Larnach’s tragic lives. One of the stories is that Katie, Sir William’s favourite daughter, haunts the ballroom which was reputedly built for her as a 21st birthday gift. Kate died shortly after that birthday.
Larnach’s first wife Eliza Jane was supposed to have died of apoplexy at the age of 38 in what is called the South Bedroom. After his first wife’s death Larnach then married his wife’s sister. She too died unexpectedly.
This is Barbara Parkins, not one of the many Mrs Larnachs
Larnach married again, his third wife Constance was much younger than William, the match was doomed from the start. Constance had an affair with Larnach’s son Donald. Donald later took his own life in the Grand Hotel and Larnach himself committed suicide in his office in 1898.
In 1906 the New Zealand government bought the castle and used it as a mental hospital for shell shocked soldiers. Later it fell into a state of disrepair but has been restored by its present owners.
As a teenager I attended a party in the ballroom, of which I remember little except that my boyfriend and I ran around the parts of the castle that were open, holding hands and pretending to be Romeo and Juliet. I was wearing a long red velvet shift and had flowers in my hair. A group of med students dressed as court jesters had brought along cannisters of nitrous oxide and helium and were talking in high squeaky voices…..
Angie and David weren’t there
It was the first time I smelled marijuana though I was busy with the mulled cider and didn’t take much notice of what people were smoking. In the early hours of the morning I leaned too far over the wishing well out in the garden and dropped a greenstone earring, one of a pair my romeo had found at a building site earlier in the week.
I still have the other one…..