BUILT: Between 1871 and 1887
STATUS: Open as a tourist destination
William Larnach (the house’s namesake and a prominent entrepreneur and politician) built a large home on the Dunedin Peninsula between 1871 and 1887. His architect was R.A. Lawson, who built several other buildings in Dunedin. The building resulted with 43 rooms, a ballroom, and a staff of 46 servants. William’s daughter, Kate, was given the ballroom for her 21st birthday in 1887. However, tragedy struck when she died of typhoid at age 26. Her ghost, along with William’s first wife, Eliza, still haunt the ballroom.
Larnach called the house “The Camp”, but the building did not keep him happy like he had originally intended. After several personal and financial setbacks, William Larnach committed suicide in New Zealand’s Parliament Buildings in October of 1898. After several years of abandonment, the home was bought by Barry and Margaret Barker in 1967, and the building was restored. The building offers views of the Otago Peninsula and Harbor.
In 1994, a play entitled Larnach – Castle of Lies was performed by Dunedin’s Fortune Theatre. It was one of many plays about the Larnach family tragedies. During the performance of the play, several paranormal occurrences went by, and many guests were frightened.
Now a tourist destination, the “castle” sees thousands of visitors each year. Those who visit it have made claims of an eerie feeling in the ballroom, the apparition of a young woman in a Victorian dress, cold spots, and a sensation of being watched, particularly in the Larnach’s daughter’s bedroom. An article in the New Zealand Herald in November, 2008 said that there had been close to thirty sightings of “cranky spirits”, “touches”, “pushing”, and other “odd occurrences” at Larnach’s Castle.
In Popular Culture
- It was the filming location for the TVNZ Dunedin production Hanlon in 1985.
- The introductory scenes of Shaker Run were filmed in the house in 1985.
- The location has been featured on paranormal shows Ghost Hunt, Spookers, and Ghost Hunters International.
- The Shadowlands. “New Zealand,” www.TheShadowlands.net
- Wikipedia. “Larnach Castle,” www.Wikipedia.org
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