Monday, May 19, 2008

For Gentlewomen

McLean's Mansion, Christchurch. May 2008. Ajr
Back in 1899-1902 when this massive home was being built for wealthy Scottish immigrant farmer, Allan McLean, it was one of the largest and grandest private properties in Christchurch. It probably still is – although it’s no longer private; it’s currently home to a private tertiary training institute. McLean, a bachelor, built the home for his retirement but only got to live there for five years before he died. It was McLean’s wish that the mansion and his bequest of 220,000 pounds be used to assist “gentlewomen, or women of refinement or education” who had fallen on hard times – so that they might “live under circumstances approximating with those under which they had been brought up.” Oh to be a ‘gentlewoman’ I say! I love this place and one day soon I’m going to pretend to be a tertiary student so I can get a look inside. After all, I’m a woman and I can be gentle.

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