by Alice Reeves nee Blunden
I learn from an old stock return that this station was called "PUKERIKI" for a time in the eighteen fifties. The two homesteads on it were afterwards known as "TARA" and "THE DOWNS", but the station as a whole was generally known as MURPHY’S RUN. It was about fourteen thousand acres and ran from the Eyre to the Cust below the Carleton Run. It was taken up on 17th October 1851, by Robert Luke Higgins for John R. Murphy, who was a large squatter in Australia. He sent Higgins over to Canterbury with stock to take up country as a managing partner.
John Robert Murphy continued to live in Australia but came over once or twice in the ‘fifties to see the station.
A brass memorial and a beautiful stained glass window are dedicated to John and Elizabeth Murphy, in Melbourne Cathedral.
Higgins built his original hut on the site of the old house at Tara, which I believe is still standing. He continued as managing partner as long as Murphy lived, and after his death became his executor. In 1853 Higgins took up another run, No 78 for Murphy. It lay south of the Eyre but was sold to T.J.Curtis in the late ‘sixties and became part of Worlingham.
In the early ‘sixties Murphy sent his son, John Terry Murphy, over to the run. When John Murphy married Alice Moore on July 12 1864, he built a separate homestead on "The Downs" where A.R.Blunden lives.
John Murphy was killed about 1870 while riding home from a mounted paper chase. His widow, Alice, who was a daughter of Dr Moore, one of the earliest Christchurch doctors and Canterbury runholders, afterwards married Reginald Blunden (Alice Reeve's grandfather) and lived at "The Downs" until her death in 1918. The old house was burnt down in 1922 but has been rebuilt, and Mrs Blunden's son continued to live there. The Murphys bought the freehold on a great deal of good land on the run.
In the late 1880's when the partnership with Higgins ended, most of the land was leased to farmers, and in 1921 it was all cut up and sold except "The Downs."
In 1987 the property was auctioned:
PUBLIC AUCTION OF 1.9830 Hectares (4 Acres, 3 roods, 24.5 perches)
To be held in the Manchester Unity Rooms, High Street, Rangiora on Wednesday 29 April 1987 at 2.30pm on account of Mr and Mrs Higgins.
THE PRIORY, a well known property in the Cust district was the original home of the Anglican vicar for the Cust parish for approximately 10years, built by W and J King, builders of Oxford. This classic, 2 storey stately home is steeped in local history, built for the Church Trustees in 1966 on the property known as ‘Murphy’s Run Reginald Blunden’s’.
An exclusive home of four bedrooms, sitting room, living room, modern kitchen, dining room, study, large restful library, spacious balcony, two bathrooms, two toilets and laundry, a dwelling providing ideal family living and entertaining..
‘The Priory’ is sited some 300 metres from the Rangiora Oxford Road approximately 2 km from the Cust township and is set in a picturesque woodland setting of established native and imported trees, shrubs, fruit trees, a grassed area is fenced into three pony paddocks with the country water race meandering through a most attractive setting. The out-buildings comprise of garaging for two cars, old poultry house, wool shed and various store sheds. The offering of this picturesque property provides an opportunity to purchase one of the few remaining historical homes in North Canterbury. The present owners have carried out extensive alterations to an architects plan and have retained the character and charm of the home while incorporating the convenience of modern building designs.
Future renovation in some areas are possible and would enhance the value of the property immensely.
These photos show The Priory.
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