His Lordship's Hotel

The building at 106 Lichfield Street, known as His Lordship's Hotel, was built as a restaurant in 1876. 

Early Lichfield Street
Early Lichfield Street. Creator (cre): Christchurch Star. Christchurch Star - no known copyright

This building was erected on what was originally Town Section 989. A photograph dated to the 1870s shows how the building may have originally appeared when it was first built. Facing north onto Lichfield Street, it was constructed from stone and brick, and consisted of two floors. The façade of the ground floor originally featured a central arched doorway with two arched windows on either side. A dentil frieze separated the ground floor from the first floor. The façade of the first floor differed in that while it also featured four arched windows, these were separated by pilasters. The decorative features of the façade culminated with a pediment set atop another dentil frieze.

The building, originally known as His Lordship’s Larder, under the proprietorship of William John Messenger, was ready to open by 30 December 1876. Initially it operated as luncheon rooms and offered private rooms for ladies. Additions to provide accommodation were made to the building by November 1877.

The lease for the property was auctioned for a term of thirty one years in February 1878. However, in September 1878, William Henry Messenger, the son of William John Messenger, was granted the license of the hotel.

In January 1880, the architectural firm Hubbard and Brown advertised for brick additions to be made to the building. The additions were completed in 1881 with a section to accommodate ladies and rooms for private dining. After the renovations, the hotel was described as ‘equal to any establishment of a similar kind in the larger cities of Australia’.

William Henry Messenger transferred the license to William Triggs in March 1884. When Triggs applied for his license to be renewed in June, the committee granted it, but they also gave him a warning that the bar was being used for more than just the consumption of alcohol.

In February 1886, William Henry disappeared with the hotel barmaid, Amy McAlpine, leaving his wife Maria and the children with no support. Triggs’ license was temporarily transferred to William John Messenger in March 1886 and in April the former licensee of the hotel was charged with insolvency.

In May 1886, William John Messenger applied to temporarily transfer the license to Charles William Crowe and W. Crowe. There was also an agreement to lease back to Messenger the whole premises except the bar room, commercial room, and the room adjoining the bar room. This was, however, against the Licensing Act. The Act stated that a license cannot be issued to a building having less than six rooms for public accommodation. When the license had been granted to Messenger it had been so under the impression that the whole premises was under one control.

In that same month, William Henry was arrested in Melbourne and upon being brought back to Christchurch he reconciled with his wife. Tragically, in August, Amy committed suicide by jumping from the S.S. Wakatipu on its journey from Wellington to Sydney. Following his return to Christchurch, William Henry applied to transfer the license of the hotel to Crowe.

By April 1887, Crowe was bankrupt. In May, he applied for the transferal of his lease to Richard Charles Bowden. Messenger had no objection to Bowden, and allowed Bowden to take possession of the building and sublet to him the restaurant section.

In November 1887, Bowden applied to transfer the license to Fred Marshland Hadfield. Messenger opposed this, as he had never signed a consent to Hadfield having the place, believing Hadfield to simply be a barman working for Bowden. As soon as Messenger learned Hadfield claimed to be the proprietor he served him with a notice to quit.

The licensing committee refused to grant the license transfer to Hadfield. When the license reverted to Bowden, he renounced his interest in the license and the hotel. The license and the entirety of the building was then returned to William John Messenger by 11 January 1888. By January 24 he was in full possession of the building and was prepared to negotiate for the sale of his 20 year lease. He applied to transfer the license to Robert Nickels in December 1889.

In June 1890, the license was transferred from Robert Nickels to Richard Blackburn. Under Blackburn the building became known as His Lordship’s Hotel Café. In September 1891, the license was transferred from Blackburn to Richard Richardson and the committee granted permission for the name of the building to change to Richardson’s Hotel. Richardson became bankrupt by October 1894 and he sold his interest in the lease and license to J. W. Matthews.

Matthews transferred the license to Emily Helmling in June 1899. By 1900, the address of the property was 135 Lichfield Street. In July 1903, Emily Helmling applied to transfer the license to Patrick Burke.

In December 1905, the license passed from Patrick Burke to Margaret Lahman, the wife of Frederick Lahman. In June 1909, when Margaret went to renew her license, the licensing committee noted that the hotel did not have an entrance from the main street (despite having three entrances from a private right of way). By 1913 the address of the property had changed to 106 Lichfield Street. In 1915, Margaret Lahman applied to transfer the license to Edward Guthbert McCullough.

McCullough, who was in ownership of the property by 1919, applied to transfer the license to Joseph Patrick Goulding in May 1920. Goulding was in partnership with his sisters, Minnie Goulding and Annie Goulding by 1931. By 1931 the hotel was described as ‘a house with an enormous turnover in wines, spirits, and beer…’ However Goulding was charged later that year with making false income tax returns.

Manchester Street-Lichfield Street intersection
Manchester Street-Lichfield Street intersection. Photographer (pht): Doc Ross. © Doc Ross

Despite this, McCullough transferred the property to Goulding and his sisters in 1932. The appearance of the building was possibly modernised in its appearance c.1937 as architectural plans for alterations exist from that year.

Goulding and his sisters transferred the property to Charles Watkins Stafford in 1948. In 1961, Stafford transferred the property to Alfred George Bailey. The property was transferred to Inns of Canterbury in 1970. In 1989, the property was transferred to His Lordship’s Hotel Limited. In 1996, the property was transferred to Lichfield Properties Limited.

The building continued to be known as His Lordship’s Hotel until 1997. In 1998 the building became the site of the bar, Voodoo Lounge, and Chanelle’s massage parlour.

On 29 October 2000, the building was destroyed by an arsonist. The remains of the building were demolished and the property became a lane providing access to the South of Lichfield precinct.