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Village History

Felbridge House (back section corner of Pitfure and Edward Street)

Felbridge House was the family home of Dr Walter Relf Pearless.

Walter had done his medical training in England then immigrated to Australia. Once there he met and married his wife Marianne RAIKES and had 8 children. The
whole family arrived in New Zealand in 1884, then Walter set up his medical practice in Wakefield. Walter was a popular figure in Wakefield and had a great love for the game of Cricket.
With the support of Henry Baigent, the family rented various places in Wakefield until their new home Felbridge House was completed in about 1885. It was named as such after an English settlement in East Grimstead, his home Parish in England. Local builders, the McPherson’s, built the home from native timbers. Upstairs were 6 bedrooms and a bathroom whilst downstairs were the living areas, as well as a surgery, dispensary and waiting area. A conservatory was built on the sunny side and as well as a stable block with groom’s quarters in the loft, there were other sheds too. The grounds were beautifully laid
out and included tennis courts. The 1929 Murchison Earthquake damaged the brick chimneys and they were replaced with metal ones.
Walter was appointed the Surgeon Major of the Waimea Rifles, who were a volunteer group set up to train soldiers. In 1900 he served in the Crimean War in South Africa. In 1911 he was appointed the Principle Medical Officer for the Canterbury Military District. In 1914, at age 60, he enlisted for World War I and was the oldest man to land at Gallipoli.
Walter and Marianne’s son Hugh also trained as a Medical Doctor and joined his father in partnership at Wakefield. Upon retirement he and Hugh swapped houses and Walter remained in Brightwater until his death on 23 Dec 1924.
The people of Wakefield erected a Memorial Archway at the northern entrance into the Wakefield Domain in recognition of the 41 years of service that Walter gave to Wakefield and New Zealand.
Felbridge House has undergone a full restoration and can still be seen on a back section at the corner of Edward and Pitfure Road.

This information was shared on a historical walk (in October 2022) along Edwards Street, presented by Margaret Clark, from the Waimea South Historical Society (Inc 2022).

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