Isel House and Park
- Heritage Attractions
Isel House is one of Nelson’s finest heritage house experiences, set in a picturesque English style park. See beautiful antique furnishings; original Marsden ceramic collections; displays relating to the history of the house and grounds; botany exhibits; stories of the local community and learn about its restoration.
Isel House is an integral part of our local history and tells the story of the Marsden's, one of Nelson's first families. Thomas and Mary Marsden arrived in Nelson aboard the Prince of Wales in 1842.
By 1848, their property of 930 acres made them the largest landowner’s in the Nelson province at the time. Jeweller, watchmaker and farmer, Thomas was also a keen botanist. He planned and planted a sprawling English style park, some of which still survives today. Son James further developed the family’s large and reputable library and was also a successful run holder – known particularly for sheep breeding and cropping.
Isel House is not just an ordinary museum-type homestead. It speaks of one of Nelson’s original families and their place in the township of Stoke and Nelson. It has been restored by way of layers of history – from the ornate style of the Victorian era to the modernist style of the 1950s.
It features a large stained glass skylight, a lovingly carved stairway and striking wood panelling which echo its’s Victorian heyday; and many beautiful items, including 17th – 19th century European furniture, large paintings and delicate ceramics, which were originally owned by the Marsden’s, still adorn the House.
Upstairs, rooms have been conserved and hold displays relating to the house’s history, the grounds and the community of Stoke.
Much of Isel’s restoration was managed by the Isel House Charitable Trust under the supervision of curator Sally Papps. The House and extensive park grounds are now owned and managed by the Nelson City Council.
The house has undergone structural and earthquake strengthening.
Open Tuesday to Sunday from mid-October to the end of April, generally from 11am to 4pm.