John and Charles Enys: Castle Hill Runholders (1864-1891)

John and Charles Enys: Castle Hill Runholders (1864-1891) records the story of the pioneer sheepfarmers from Cornwall who ran Castle Hill Station in the Canterbury high country, New Zealand, for more than 25 years in the late 19th century. Extracts from letters by both brothers and paintings by Charles that they sent home to their family give a fascinating insight to a lost way of life.

Over 50 paintings by Charles are reproduced, with matching ‘then and now’ photographs by John O’Malley and depict their Trelissick buildings, neighbouring homesteads at Craigieburn, Grasmere, Cora Lynn, and Mt White and views of waterfalls, mountains, rivers, lakes and the limestone rocks so characteristic of Castle Hill. Further afield Charles painted Otarama (now Brooksdale), Racecourse Hill and Middleton Grange. Historic photographs further complement the paintings. Additional photographs by John O’Malley feature the stunning scenery of Castle Hill.

John Enys contributed much to early Canterbury and served on many committees, including the Selwyn County Council and the Canterbury Provincial Council. Sharing an interest in nature with geologist Julius Haast, John was involved with the founding of Canterbury Museum and the public library. Passionate about the natural world, he collected and studied whatever he could find; native plants, fossils, moa bones, fish, birds, spiders, butterflies and moths. 

The Enys brothers made the most of the outdoors life this region offers. While they were very busy at mustering and shearing times, they could hunt, fish, ride, go boating, ice-skate and explore the hills and valleys at other times. In those days of travel by coach and horses, life was very basic in their isolated high country home, but they could enjoy staying at the Christchurch Club when in Christchurch. They took turns travelling back to Enys, Cornwall several times, experiencing different routes.

Their friends come into the story; farmers Edward Chudleigh, Samuel Butler, Barton Acland, Charles Tripp, Arthur Hawdon, Edward Maxwell, John Brabazon, scientists Julius Haast, James Hector, Thomas Cheeseman, Thomas Potts, Frederick Hutton, Thomas Kirk, artists Marianne North, William Packe and nephew Claude Rogers.

  • 240 pages with over 200 full colour paintings & photographs (ISBN: 978-1-927167-31-1)
  • Available online here, and in bookshops
  • ‘Commended Award’ in the Canterbury Historical Association J. M. Sherrard Award in New Zealand Regional and Local History (Twenty-second judging (2018) for books listed in the National Library Catalogue in 2016-17) …this is an intelligent and multi-faceted book, a delight to read and a satisfying record of the early days in what has since become a famous high country tourist destination’

The book is available online from this website, and from bookshops at $49.99

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For more information, and for overseas purchases, please contact the author