The Rev. William Aylmer was vicar of St Peter’s Anglican Church from 1851 until 1871. An early Canterbury Association settler, Aylmer took up a 50-acre block of land in the valley that now bears his name. He built his house on this land in 1852.
With a hipped roof that extends to cover the verandahs, the house has a vaguely Georgian or Regency appearance (unusual in Canterbury). It is also reminiscent of an early Australian homestead. Aylmer became very attached to his Akaroa property. One early visitor, Charlotte Godley, reported finding him in high spirits and taking delight in his place. Aylmer died in 1883.
A later owner, Greacan Black, added a two-storey extension to Aylmer’s house in a more elaborate late Victorian style. The extension was built by a notable Akaroa builder, J.J. Walker. Though the two parts of the house are disparate, architecturally, they sit beautifully together and are a fine illustration of the way in which the New Zealand habit of adding to buildings can produce happy results.
The house has had several subsequent owners, among them members of a family, the Bruces, whose name is prominent in Akaroa’s early history.