2 Nov 2019

22 Ascot Terrace

From Appointment, 7:00 pm on 2 November 2019

On Christmas Day, 1959, Douglas Lilburn moved into 22 Ascot Terrace, Thorndon, Wellington - just a stone's throw from where he had been living on Tinakori Road, right opposite the Botanical Gardens, and an attractive walk through the gardens to the university.

Lilburn in his garden, c. 1996

Lilburn in his garden, c. 1996 Photo: Gwyneth Brown

Ascot Street (as it is now) is a small street going steeply up a hill between Sydney Street West on the one side, and Tinakori Road on the other: it's historic, with some of the first houses built in Wellington and remnants of the old brick courtyard to the original mews.

Number 22 is a 1951 bungalow set on a large plot of terraced land, well back from the road, facing the harbour and the morning sun. A path winds down to Rita Angus's cottage on Sydney St West.

Lilburn loved it and remained there for the rest of his life. He was a good neighbour and a keen gardener, and his neighbours remember him with affection.

One of Lilburn's students, Gordon Burt, reflected that:

"The door is always open ... the house is lean, yet filled with books, several icons of New Zealand painting. There is wine, a bowl of cubed bread, and cheese or olives, wild greenery against uncurtained windows, and a view – across Bolton Street knoll to the skyline and harbour – which, from just down the road, once took Rita Angus's eye. Quiet talk, fuelled by the rising warmth of the wine, drifts from chat about colleagues and friends to business at the university and so to all that is music and beyond..."

Ascot Terrace from Sydney St West, 1972

Ascot Terrace from Sydney St West, 1972 Photo: Allan Ostling

Ascot Street from Sydney St West, 2015

Ascot Street from Sydney St West, 2015 Photo: Allan Ostling

Presented by Charlotte Wilson.

With thanks to:
Chris Cochran
John Cook
Ian and Jill Goodwin
Melissa Ludlow
Diana Moore
Jane Paul
Jane Perry

Get the RNZ app

for easy access to all your favourite programmes