St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Kilmore and Manchester Street corner

Exterior view of the old St Lukes Church
Exterior view of the old St Lukes Church. Photographer James D Richardson. Image: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-6739.

The wooden church of St Luke the Evangelist, stood in Manchester Street, just north of the Avon, from 1858 until it was pulled down in 1908 to make way for a larger stone and brick structure, faced with stone from Halswell. The old church had fallen into decay, and since the Cathedral had been constructed, the evening congregation had fallen away, so much so that Rev. E. A. Lingard, the Vicar of St Luke,  had felt the need to remind his parishioners of their duty to their own parishes.

The foundation stone of the new church was laid by Bishop Julius, Anglican Primate and Archbishop of New Zealand, and Bishop of Christchurch, who stood on a platform surrounded by his clergy and the church choir, to conduct a dedication service on the September 3rd, 1908 in the presence of several hundred people. He described the new building as being more durable and costly… a noble building that would carry on the ‘beautiful and ideal work’ of the late Mr Benjamin Mountfort. The building was to be designed by Mountfort’s second son Cyril, and would take after the design of St John’s Cathedral, Napier.

As the dedication ended a procession, lead by the Sunday School pupils, marched passed the foundation stone where donations towards the building fund were dropped. [1]

St Luke's Anglican Church, Christchurch 1913
St Luke’s Anglican Church, Christchurch 1913. Photographer James D Richardson. Image: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-6740.

To mark the opening, the first service was conducted on Wednesday October 13, 1909 by Canon Sedgewick. It had taken four years to raise the £9300 required for the new church, in what was considered not to be a rich parish. The first service was popularly attended, resulting in a offertory of £1000, followed by an afternoon tea in the school room which netted a further £200 towards what was hoped would be a debt-free consecration to follow on Sunday. [2]

Canon Sedgewick’s strength of character was largely responsible for raising the funds to carry out the building project, a fact not lost on Bishop Julius during his foundation laying speech. It was largely owing to the energy of Sedgwick that the new church was constructed. However two days out from  the consecration of the new church, which was to be conducted by Bishop Averill, the building fund was still short £100. Such was the respect commanded by Canon Sedgewick, that on the morning of the consecration he received ten signed blank cheques from as many different people, who wanted to make up the deficit.

St Luke’s faced the same fate as the much grander Napier Cathedral after which it was modelled. The Napier Cathedral was destroyed in the 1931 earthquake, St Lukes in 2011 after suffering extensive damage in the February earthquake.

St. Luke's Church, Manchester Street  Source: One Photograph, Black & White, Record ID 35-R293  Photographer Frederick G. Radcliffe 6171  Date Period 1910 Sir George Grey Special Collections, 35-R293' img 0061
St. Luke’s Church, Manchester Street Source: One Photograph, Black & White, Record ID 35-R293 Photographer Frederick G. Radcliffe 6171 Date Period 1910 Sir George Grey Special Collections, 35-R293′ img 0061.

This early photograph of St. Lukes Anglican Church was taken c. 1910. Typically, the photographer, Frederick Radcliffe, has included subjects within his composition to add to its interest.  Here a young girl and boy stroll past and look up.

Their small size compared to the church, makes the Gothic Revival designed church look bigger and more impressive than ever.  The humble picket fence gives away its colonial origins.

By 1952, this photograph taken by Patricia Gregan, who flatted in an upstairs apartment opposite the church, shows how much the trees have grown and a parish hall has been added.

Sources:

  1. Star, Issue 9332, 4 September 1908, Page 2.
  2. Otago Witness, Issue 2901, 20 October 1909, Page 41.
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