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Sunday, 8 November 2015

Vicesimus Lush: The Ghost Who Stole the Blickensderfer Typewriter from a Haunted Auckland House

Vicesimus Lush: sounds like a drunken debauchee rather than an Anglican archdeacon. But a man of the cloth he was, no doubt named after the English essayist and minister Vicesimus Knox (1752-1821). Lush is best known in New Zealand today as the man who built a now famous haunted house - called Ewelme Cottage - at 14 Ayr Street in Parnell, Auckland (one of two haunted houses on that same street!).
Vicesimus Lush
What I want to know is what happened to the Blickensderfer 7 typewriter which was once in Lush's study at Ewelme. Sounds like a task for Auckland typewriter technician and collector David Lawrence to check out.
Between 1981-85, Governors Bay, Canterbury, photographer Warren Victor Jacobs travelled the length of breadth of New Zealand taking colour photographs for a book, The Birth of New Zealand: A Nation's Heritage.
During his travels he visited Ewelme - which had remained virtually unaltered since the 1880s - and took the image at the top of this post. I bought a copy of this large, hefty tome for a princely $5 at a Canberra Historical Society book sale in Curtin on Friday, and my eagle eye (for a typewriter) immediately spotted the Blick 7 on page 67 (of 207).
Sir Alf Reed at a Blick 5
The Blick 7, of course, did not appear on the market until 1897 and Thomas George DeRenzy didn't start importing Blickensderfers for Alfred Hamish Reed to sell through the New Zealand Typewriter Company until later that same year. By which time Lush was well dead - he died in Hamilton in the Waikato on July 11, 1882. But his widow Blanche Hawkins Lush had the cottage enlarged and lived there until she died in September 1912. Ewelme remained in Lush family hands until 1967, 22 years after the first sign that the cottage was haunted. It was bought by the Auckland City Council and leased to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.
Ewelme is said to be regularly haunted by a number of ghosts, but particularly by a young girl who appears by an oak tree in Ewelme's garden.
New Zealander Anna Paquin in The Piano
Since 1969, Ewelme has been preserved as a house museum by the NZHPT, just as the Lushes had left it, with about 800 books, hundreds of pages of sheet music, original artworks and a vast array of everyday objects from their time period. But no longer a Blick! NZMuseums do not show a Blick among the objects still held at Ewelme
As I looked into the life of Lush and the story behind Ewelme, I found that the Blick had - at some time between when Jacobs took his photograph in the early 80s and April 2012 - disappeared from Lush's study. In the meantime, in 1992, the drawing room, veranda and garden of Ewelme were used in the production of the triple Oscar-winning film The Piano, starring Harvey Keitel and Holly Hunter and directed by Jane Campion.
This 2012 photograph were taken during an investigation into paranormal activity at Ewelme:
During a second session, Haunted Auckland (Paranormal New Zealand) reported that "One of our 'sensitives' felt that there was something (a male) in the downstairs office." Investigators, led by Matthew Tyler, used cameras, digital recorders, static video cameras, a TrapCamera and Tri-Field Meter. One team member was trialling the M2 Ghosthunter App on her cell phone in a few places and received the words in the Reverend Lush’s study "Florida" and "dreaming". I can understand dreaming about the missing Blick 7, but Florida?
Vicesimus Lush was born in Shoreditch in the East End of London, England, on August 27, 1817. He was admitted to Corpus Christi College at Cambridge University in 1838 and gained a BA in 1842 and an MA in 1847. He was ordained a deacon at Chester in 1842 and a priest in 1843, while attached to the Church of Over Darwen in Lancashire. In 1844 he moved to the Church of Faringdon in Berkshire and in 1849 to the Church of St John's at Hoxton, Middlesex, where he remained until he was sent to New Zealand in 1850. He served at Howick until 1868, then on the Thames Goldfields. and was vicar of St Peter's, Hamilton, and Archdeacon of Waikato until his death, aged 64. 
Lush had Ewelme built of kauri timber in 1863, on the same street as another now haunted dwelling, Kinder House. In 2011 The New Zealand Herald suggested Ewelme is possibly the most important of Auckland's historic properties, despite being the smallest. How much more important would it be if it had its Blick back? 

1 comment:

Richard P said...

That is truly a delightful name!