History & Legends


The Dunstan House building

  • Built by George Holloway on the same site as the original wooden Hotel.
  • The schist stonework completed by Thomas Wilkinson.
  • The kauri feature staircase hand built on site by Albert Fountain.
  • The main building was finished in 1898 but it was 1900 before all the detailed work was completed.
  • The original cellar dating from 1863 remains useable and is underneath the dining room area.
  • Originally known as Dunstan Hotel, when it closed in 1937 the name was transferred to the Commercial Hotel situated on the nearby corner, which still uses that name today.
  • Dunstan House re-opened in the 1960's with the new title Dunstan House showing it as an accommodation provider rather than a hotel, something that remains true today.
  • Dunstan House is considered a Clyde icon and is now a protected Grade 2 Historic building listed with the National Historic places Trust.

The Room Names

Dunstan House has 11 guest rooms all of which have been given the name of a person significant to Clyde or to Dunstan House itself.

The Ellen Jennings Rooms (The Suite)

Mrs Jennings was the wife of the local publican and over the years she spent hours sitting up on the balcony watching people as they went about their daily business in Clyde. She was always up on the balcony and over the years became a local celebrity, known to be someone who never missed what went on in Clyde. The suite, with its own private lounge and separate access onto the balcony is right beside where Mrs Jennings loved to sit.

The Albert Fountain (Blue) Room

Mr Fountain was a man already well known for his work building with wood and he was commissioned to build a grand feature staircase for Dunstan House. Kauri was brought down from upper Wanaka area and was then milled, carved and fitted by hand on site by Mr Fountain. The result is this staircase which is a true work of art, and the heart of the building.

The Thomas Wilkinson (Green) Room

Mr Wilkinson was a contractor and builder and responsible for overseeing the building Dunstan House. Although his residence was at St Bathans(some 63 kilometres away) he did not want to stay away from his family so cycled to and from Clyde each day, quite a feat considering the state of roads back then. His vision saw a completed building of a grand scale which was (as still is) the talking point of Dunstan (Central Otago).

The John Holloway Room

Mr Holloway was a local stone mason who was asked to complete the stone work for this building. He sourced and collected stone from a local quarry nearby in Earnscleugh and hand shaped and fitted it. The results speak for themselves and his workmanship is still a talking point over a century later.

Fleur Sullivan Room

Fleur is a nationally known celebrity cook, but she is also a previous owner of Dunstan House. Fleur bought Dunstan House in the 1960’s and opened it as a “bed and breakfast” while also setting up Oliver’s Restaurant directly across the road.

Ruby Larking Room

Ruby was the daughter of George Larking the Publican of Dunstan Hotel (or Dunstan House as it is now known) and lived here with her father from the age of 4 years old after her mother died. There was some talk in the community that a Hotel was not a good place for a young girl like Ruby to live, but she remained here for several years with her father, and was well known and liked by both miners and locals.

George Larking Room

Mr Larking was Ruby’s father and was the last publican of the Dunstan Hotel before it closed in 1937. On the eve of its closure Mr Larking was present when a couple of local men rode their horses in through the front doors, up the staircase and around the top floor before descending the stairs and out through the bar back onto the street. A local legend was born that night from their actions.

Powder Room

The Powder room is aptly named as it is the room used by the ladies to “powder their nose” and drink tea while waiting for the coaches in the early 1900’s. Its adjacent ensuite was originally the men’s “smoking” room. These rooms are off the main entrance foyer so those ladies and gentlemen did not have to mix with the miners. The miners drank in the front bar of the Hotel which had its separate corner entrance to ensure they did not enter the main foyer.

The Rustic Room

The Rustic Room occupies what was originally the open area between the main house and the entrance to the stables (which are now the owners’ accommodation). A feature of this room is that one of the walls in the room has been left with the original schist stonework exposed, showing its rustic origins.

Miners Lane Room

Miners Lane, (which still exists today in Clyde) was the track the miners would use to climb up from the river to the Hotel after a hard day’s work. With up to 40,000 miners working shoulder to shoulder along the river bank between Clyde and Cromwell it was a very busy lane as it also led up to the gold Assay Office and Naylor’s store which sold provisions (both now part of Olivers complex opposite)

The Wong Room

Mr Wong-Gye was the only Chinese person to settle in Clyde originally. He became well known in the local community not only because of his commanding presence, (he stood 6’4” tall), but also for the opium den he had at the rear of his house where he entertained friends. He was a successful miner and businessman and his descendants are still part of the Clyde community.


The Dunstan House Legends and Ghosts

Legend 1

Ruby Larking died tragically in her room in Dunstan House while still at a young age.

UNTRUE. Ruby died at an old age after a full and well lived life spent in Clyde.

Legend 2

A dance girl was murdered in her upstairs room by her boyfriend who rode his horse up the stairs and hacked the door down with an axe.

UNTRUE. There is no report of any such murder at Clyde, dance girls did not use the upstairs rooms (which were for guests) and the horses up the stairs are part of another legend below.

Legend 3

Two local men rode their horses in through the front doors, up the staircase and around the top floor before descending the stairs and out through the bar back onto the street.

TRUE. In 1937 when the Hotel closed, the horses were ridden inside the building by a couple of local men who were regular patrons of the Hotel.

Ghosts:

Is there the ghost of a young lady wandering around Dunstan House?

UNKNOWN. There are stories told about ghosts being seen over the years but nothing that can be substantiated.

What we do know is that our guests all sleep well and wake up refreshed and relaxed.

So if you want to know whether there is a ghost here you’ll have to come and stay and find out for yourself....