Monday, March 22, 2010

Heavenly Peace

Ngaio Marsh House was an absolute treat during our recent trip to Christchurch. But the pilgrimage would not have been complete without a journey to visit Ngaio Marsh's grave.

Ngaio wanted to be buried at Peel Forest, which is a gorgeous area of native bush, tucked into the base of the hills on the edge of the Canterbury plains near Geraldine. This was a place she visited often and it was the home of her great friends the Ackland family. After we finally found the little churchyard and cemetery where she is buried, it is a bit off the beaten track, I could fully understand why she would have wanted eternal rest there.

The Church of the Holy Innocents at Mount Peel is a stunning little church and its surroundings with trees, bush, paddocks and cows was idyllic. We went on a warm and sunny day and the whole area exuded peace and calm.

There was nothing auspicious about Ngaio's gravestone. It simply says 'Edith Ngaio Marsh.' That is all, no dates, no accolades, just an elegant and to the point memorial.

The company she keeps at the cemetery is fascinating. This is a very old and historic churchyard, in fact it held the grave of the first woman to be born in Christchurch. It is also the ancestral home of the Ackland family, and other families. I was also intrigued to note there were a couple of graves for people who had died overseas, but had wanted their remains to be brought back to Peel forest. Such is the allure of the place.

So Ngaio rests in heavenly peace amongst her friends in what I think must be one of the prettiest and serene places in New Zealand.


Bookman Beattie said...

Thank you Vanda for your beautiful piece on Ngaio Marsh's resting place.
I'm not likely to ever get there so I am especially grateful for your lovely description.

Vanda Symon said...

It was a simply gorgeous place. The inside of the little blue stone church was natural timbers and it had the most stunning stained glass windows.

I do have to make a correction, because it was too hard to see with the naked eye when there, but on the large gravestone photograph when we blew it up and played with the contrast you can just make out the dates '1895-1982'on her headstone. I was such a bright and sunny day we couldn't see it at the time.

Kiwicraig said...

Great post Vanda. I actually just watched "As A Man Lay Dead" on DVD over the weekend. I'm going to have to make sure I go to Ngaio Marsh house when I head down to Chch later this year. I'm not sure if I'll make it out to the graveyard - which makes this post from you even more appreciated.

Margot Kinberg said...

Vanda - What a beautiful post! Lovely 'photos, too! Thank you for sharing your experience : ).

zipperty-doo-dah said...

I inherited a section at Peel Forest and my dream is to build on it one day. My husband keeps telling me to sell it but everytime I go there I'm reminded that It's my favourite place in the world. We honeymooned at Peel 30 years ago but only get back occaisionally. Although I've visited the church several times I was unaware of the conection with Ngaio - guess where I'll be going next time!Thanks for the interesting information. Belynda

Kerrie said...

Good post Vanda.

Diane Andrews Publishing said...

I went there too. thanks for the write up. My family history includes Peel Forest born ancestors who were road builders. There is a Pithie Road still there. Strangely my father married mum who was a writer! She started tauranga Writers in 1967 - Edna Pithie. i was thrilled to see Ngaio Marshs' grave as mum talked a lot about her

Vanda Symon said...

It's surprising how many people I come across have history or memories of the area. It is truly lovely there. Although I was saddened to see the gorgeous church and it's stained glass windows didn't fare well in the Christchurch earthquakes.