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our year of 
growth

Let us pray for growth in our church and in our lives

God of mission,

Who alone brings growth to your Church,

Send your Holy Spirit to give

Vision to our planning,

Wisdom to our actions,

Joy to our worship,

And power to our witness.

Help our church to grow in numbers,

In spiritual commitment to you,

And in service to our community,

Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Meet Our Team

Our History

Timeline

For over 150 years St Peter's Anglican Church has stood in the heart of Church Corner, at the junction of three main roads heading south, east and west in and out of Christchurch.

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Historic overview

In 1852 the Rev. Octavius Mathias purchased Rural Section 160 from the Canterbury Association. It consisted of 200 acres and cost £600. Twenty acres were given to the parish of St Peter to be used for a church, vicarage, Sunday school and cemetery. The remainder of the land was to become ‘glebe land’, land that was farmed by the vicar of the day to provide him with income.

Mathias began a fund for the building of the church, and a canvass of the district increased the funds. Isaac Luck and Benjamin Mountfort prepared plans, and in 1858 the first church, built by James Maskrey from Akaroa timber, was completed at a cost of £315.

On top of the spire was a large wooden cock, the symbol of the patronal saint, Peter. The church was consecrated on Easter Sunday, 6 April 1858, by Bishop Harper with over 100 people present. St Peter’s was the second church in Christchurch to be consecrated.

Almost immediately it was realised that the wooden church was too small for the growing population in the area. In 1860 the nave was lengthened and a north transept was added. Mountfort and Luck were again the architects, and in 1874 Mountfort was instructed to prepare plans for a large stone church.

 

In 1875 the vestry made the decision that the enlargement be a portion of the new church, a new stone chancel. The tender of Samuel Hurst Seager was accepted and the work began immediately.

In 1900 it was decided to rebuild the old wooden part of the church in stone using the original plans designed by the late Benjamin Mountfort. This was overseen by his son Cyril. The foundation stone was laid on 31st October 1900 by Mrs Croasdaile Bowen, the widow of the first vicar.

In 1928 the foundation stone was laid for the last additions to transform the church from wood to stone. The designs were by Cecil Wood. The larger stone church was built over the old church, with the congregation worshipping inside for most of the process

In 1976 Don Donnithorne was the architect for the reordering of the church. The effect of this was to bring the nave altar, and as a result the service of communion, closer to the congregation.

In 2010 and 2011 St Peter’s was severely damaged in the Canterbury Earthquakes. In 2016, 158 years after it was consecrated by Bishop Harper, fundraising begins in earnest to save this wonderful part of Christchurch’s physical, spiritual and social history.

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Graveyard

The graveyard at St Peter's is the final resting place for many notable Canterbury personalities. When the church was consecrated in 1858, the graveyard was also consecrated for burial according to Christian traditions.

In 1960 the graveyard was tidied and reorganised with the consent of the relatives of those buried there. The graves were planted over with grass to give the impression of a lawn, and the ornate iron railings surrounding some of the graves were removed.

Some of the people who came to rest in the graveyard at St Peter’s include:

Sibylla Emily Maude “Nurse Maude”

Sibylla Emily Maude “Nurse Maude” is remembered for major achievements in the development of health care for New Zealanders and for her compassion, courage and vision. Along with setting up the District Nursing Programme in New Zealand, she was instrumental in treating tuberculosis and influenza. She also made great efforts in trying to improve conditions for those affected by the Depression by setting up soup kitchens and providing clothing and food. Her legacy lives on in the very active organisation that bears her name.

John Ballantyne

John Ballantyne moved to New Zealand in 1872 and set up J. Ballantyne & Co, an iconic Christchurch business that is still thriving almost 150 years later. Leaving the business under the capable direction of his three sons, he returned to his first love, farming. The esteem with which he was held in the community was evidenced at his funeral, with many prominent citizens and employees of J. Ballantyne & Co in
attendance.

Sir Charles Bowen

Sir Charles Bowen was a vestryman, church warden and synodsman at St Peter’s for 29 years, as well as being credited for being the originator of the idea of installing the first electric telegraph in New Zealand. He was the MP for Kaiapoi, and the Minister of Justice. He promoted the Education Act of 1877, which gave New Zealand free, compulsory and secular education.

William Moorhouse

William Moorhouse was a lawyer and politician who left an indelible mark on the landscape of Canterbury. In 1861 he turned the first sod of the first steam railway in New Zealand, the Christchurch-Ferrymead railway. He relentlessly championed a railway tunnel linking Christchurch and Lyttelton, and is remembered for the development of Canterbury Museum, the Botanic Gardens, and the Christchurch Hospital.

Archbishop West-Watson

Archbishop West-Watson was the third Bishop of Christchurch, being appointed in 1926. His work fostering genuine relationships between Māori and Pākehā resulted in the establishment of the Bishopric of Aotearoa and the appointment of the first Māori Bishop.

John Shand

Shands Track, Shand Crescent and Shands Emporium all take their name from John Shand. As a trainer and breeder of horses, he was connected with the Canterbury Jockey Club. He also served as a member of the Provincial Council, the Riccarton Road Board and the Canterbury Agricultural & Pastoral Association Committee.

Edward Seager

Edward Seager was the catalyst behind the establishment of the Sunnyside Asylum in 1863 as until this point people with mental conditions were jailed. He worked as the Keeper of the Asylum and his wife, Esther, was the Matron. He also introduced the concept of “occupational therapy” in his work with his patients. Following his work at Sunnyside he was the usher at the Supreme Court and the librarian to the Canterbury Law Society.

Sir Henry & Lady Wigram

Sir Henry & Lady Wigram were loyal parishioners of St Peter’s, with Sir Henry serving on vestry and the property committee. As well as being a noted businessman Sir Henry served as Mayor of Christchurch from 1902 -1903. During WWI he formed the Canterbury Aviation Co. which became the basis of the New Zealand Air Force. Lady Wigram was a member of the Red Cross Society for over forty years, becoming President of the North Canterbury Centre from 1931-1954.

Graveyard record search

If you would like details of a particular grave site or more information on who is buried at St Peters, we can do a record search for you. Please phone or call in to the office for this information. There is a $5 fee for this service.

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Garden of remembrance

A place in the graveyard for Ashes, Plaques and Reflection.

We have an extensive graveyard with burial and cremation plots. There are no more of these available for purchase.

We now have a Garden of Remembrance near the front of the stone church. Plots are available for plaques, and ashes are poured into the ground beside them.

Please contact the Parish office if you wish to purchase a plot.

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