St John's Anglican Church Complex

113 Esk Street; 108 Tay Street, Invercargill

  • St John's Anglican Church Complex. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Shellie Evans - flyingkiwigirl. Taken By: Shellie Evans - flyingkiwigirl. Date: 1/01/2014.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 391 Date Entered 27th July 1988

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Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Town Secs 8-9 and 13-15, Blk III, Town of Invercargill (CT SL27/80, SL159/5), Southland Land District and the buildings known as St John's Anglican Church Complex thereon, including the St John's Anglican Church, the Stocker Memorial Hall and the former Sunday School, and other associated structures such as the bell tower, and their fittings and fixtures. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information).

City/District Council

Invercargill City

Region

Southland Region

Legal description

Town Secs 8-9 and 13-15, Blk III, Town of Invercargill (CTs SL27/80, SL159/5), Southland Land District

Location description

Secondary address is 108 Tay Street. The property has two street frontages. The main entrance and the former Sunday School face Esk Street, while the former Vicarage/Hall/Office face Tay Street.

Summaryopen/close

St John’s Anglican Church Complex, made up of St John’s Anglican Church, the former Sunday School, former Vicarage and 1925 Stocker Memorial Hall, are an imposing collection of brick buildings that sit between Tay and Esk Streets in the centre of Invercargill. The buildings, built between 1876 and 1913, and set amidst mature trees and lawns provide a sense of retreat and contemplation in the otherwise commercial area of the business district of the city.

St John’s parish is the senior parish of the Anglican Church in Invercargill, with the first timber church dating from 1861. Spiritual needs were foremost in the minds of many residents, with the congregation growing throughout the 1860s and 1870s. In 1887 architects Mackenzie and Gilbertson produced a design for a permanent place of worship. Mackenzie and Gilbertson’s design was only partially completed, and it was not until 1913 when architect E.R. Wilson’s design was built that the church was substantially completed. The Church was finally complete in 1976 with the addition of the narthex (entrance porch).

With a growing congregation, the education of the children became an important consideration. In 1895 the vestry indicated its intention to build a new Sunday School. Mackenzie and Gilbertson designed the small building, which was opened in 1897. Yet again financial considerations were paramount, and the building was only partially completed. In 1923 a legacy of £5,000 from prominent Southland landowner and politician Reginald Mackinnon enabled the construction of a hall. The Stocker Memorial Hall, commemorating the work of the second vicar of the parish the Rev. Harry Stocker, was designed by E.R. Wilson (now the church architect), and cost £3,600, and incorporated the old vicarage into the design. The only major building project since that time has been the construction of the narthex on the north side of the church in 1976, designed by O.C. Lawrence from the offices of Smith, Rice, Lawrence & Mollison (now known as Mollison and Associates).

The main entrance to St John’s Church is on Esk Street, facing north. The building is set back, with the Sunday School building closer to the street. Access to the Church is up a tar-sealed drive with a turning circle. Mature trees are planted at the western boundary edge. A freestanding Bell Tower is located between St John’s and the Memorial Hall. The rear (south) elevation of St John’s faces Tay Street. The building is set back with footpath access to the church, with three yew trees planted between the buildings and the street. The former Vicarage (built in 1876) is located immediately to the east of St John’s. The main entrance faces Tay Street. Attached to the rear of the Vicarage is the Memorial Hall which sits in the confined space between the Church and the boundary of the property.

The Church is built in Gothic Revival style. The red brick is contrasted with the contrasting stone facings, which form a feature of the wall buttresses. The windows have shallow pointed arches with decorative stone tracery. The stained glass window behind the altar, a memorial to surveyor John Turnbull Thomson, is particularly significant. It consists of five windows, each with a trefoil arch, divided into four separate panels, joined by a tiered division, with stone tracery. The interior with its vaulted timber ceiling and carved fittings is of special significance.

The former vicarage is a one and a half storey building converted for use as office, with the 1925 Memorial Hall added to the north elevation. The building is constructed of red brick with concrete lintels above the windows and decorative arch over the main entrance doors. The Sunday School is brick on concrete foundations with a corrugated iron roof. The building is basically T-shaped in plan with a lean-to entrance porch tucked in the angle between the projecting gable on the north elevation.

St John’s Anglican Church Complex makes an outstanding architectural contribution to the historic townscape of Invercargill. This imposing brick complex of buildings belonging to the senior parish of Invercargill’s Anglican community, stand as a testament to their faith and illustrate the importance of Christianity during the Victorian and Edwardian period when these buildings were constructed, and the history of St John’s Parish.

In the last few years the Church has undergone an exterior maintenance programme with substantial outside funding support. In 2010 the congregation continues to worship in St John’s and uses the hall and meetings spaces in the adjoining buildings for community occasions.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

St John’s Anglican Church Complex has historical significance representing the importance of religion, particularly of the Anglican Church in the Invercargill community. The history of community support evident in the construction of the first church and the congregation’s fundraising efforts shows the support of the wider community. A church has stood on this site since 1861 and St John’s has stood as the bastion of the Anglican faith in Invercargill for over 120 years. The Church represents the history of the Church of England community in Invercargill and their determination to build their own place of worship. Its solidity and picturesque design is also representative of the hopes and dreams of the aspirations of this the senior Anglican parish in Invercargill and the confidence they showed in the emerging township and its future prospects.

The complex of buildings: Church, Sunday School, former Vicarage and Hall represent the range of activities associated with the Anglican Church on this site and the important role the Church played in the community. Worship, education, commemoration, social and memorial events all took place here over the 152 years since the Church acquired these sections in 1858.

Aesthetic Significance or Value

St John’s Anglican Church Complex is a cohesive cluster of brick buildings in a garden setting which make a significant aesthetic contribution to the townscape of Invercargill. The large Church is itself an imposing landmark in the centre of Invercargill, and along with its near neighbour the Presbyterian First Church, is a special architectural feature in Invercargill.

Architectural Significance or Value

St John’s Anglican Church Complex, along with its companion buildings have special architectural significance as works combining the architectural talents of the Mackenzie and Gilbertson partnership and their successor Edmund Richardson Wilson. The designs represent the Victorian and Edwardian philosophies of Church architecture which saw the buildings as expression of Christian spirituality. In addition the coherent design of the complex representing the range of activities including worship, education and social gatherings, makes a significant contribution to the cityscape of Invercargill.

Social Significance or Value

The St John’s Church Memorial Hall, commemorating the contribution of Rev. Harry Stocker, has been the focus of community activity since its construction in 1925.

Spiritual Significance or Value

St John’s Church has been the place of worship for this congregation since 1887, with the previous Church providing religious services since the early 1860s, an association of over 150 years.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history

St John’s Anglican Church Complex reflects the importance of established religion in nineteenth century Southland, and the community support for providing a formal place of worship. Its stories exemplify the determination and commitment of the faithful in their efforts to create the physical representation of their religious convictions, an important expression of spirituality in the religious philosophy of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The history of the Church not only illustrates the importance of Christianity, but the development and optimistic expectations of the developing city of Invercargill as it looked into the future. The complex of buildings that grew up around the Church, including the Memorial Hall and the Sunday School show the work and social role of the Church to its congregation and community.

The provision of the Sunday School in 1895 is part of an international movement to provide a religious training ground for children. It also provided women with a recognised leadership role in the church structure, beyond fundraising activities and food and drink providers. As religious education gained a higher profile, so did women leaders.

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history

St John’s is associated with many individuals who were of significance to Invercargill, and more widely, to New Zealand. John Turnbull Thomson, pioneering surveyor who shaped the futures of many places in Otago and Southland, a founding member of the church, and whose contribution is recognised in the memorial altar window dedicated to him, is an individual of special significance to New Zealand’s history.

In addition architectural partners McKenzie and Gilbertson were important in shaping the architectural character of Invercargill and designed other prominent buildings in the town. Their successor Edmund Richardson Wilson continued their legacy; he too is recognised for his architectural contribution to this southern city and in the smaller Southland towns, such as Winton, where examples of his work are also found.

Benefactor Reginald Mackinnon, whose generosity provided the funds to build the Stocker Memorial Hall was also an important individual in Southland’s history. His legacy lives on in the philanthropic trust still in operation today.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for the place

The St John’s Parish has worshipped at a Church on this site since 1861. They have raised money for the complex of Church buildings, funded building and maintenance programmes up till the present day and continue to care for the place. Their efforts have been supported by external funding. This shows the esteem in which the Church is held by Invercargill people.

(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place

St John’s Anglican Church Complex buildings are all constructed of brick, with the dates of construction (or additions) ranging from 1876 to 1976. The brick construction, and the timber ceiling with its brace system it also provides insight into these construction technologies.

(h) The symbolic or commemorative value of the place

There are many commemorative plaques and brasses in the Church recalling the role and lives of significant individuals associated with St Johns, so the Church has commemorative value. In addition the St John’s Memorial Hall was constructed to remember the contribution of the second vicar Rev. Stoker and so in itself also has commemorative value.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape

The buildings associated with the parish of St John’s are an important historical complex in their own right. The Church, Sunday School, former Vicarage and Memorial Hall provide insight into the role of the Church as a place of worship, education and a community centre. In addition, having sat in this location since 1861 as the city has grown around it; St John’s is an outstandingly important element of the historical landscape of Invercargill.

Summary of Significance or Values

This place was assessed against, and found it to qualify under the following criteria: a, b, e, g, h, and k.

Conclusion

It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category I historic place.

St John’s Anglican Church Complex (Church, Sunday School, former Vicarage and the Memorial Hall) makes an outstanding architectural contribution to the historic townscape of Invercargill. This imposing brick complex of buildings belonging to the senior parish of Invercargill’s Anglican community, stand as a testament to their faith and illustrate the importance of Christianity during the Victorian and Edwardian period when these buildings were constructed.

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Construction Professionalsopen/close

Wilson, E R

Edmund Wilson was born in Invercargill, the son of Henry Fitz Wilson, a merchant and Dorothy Eleanor Richardson. The Wilson family was prominent in Invercargill: Henry Wilson was chairman of the Hospital Board, the Bluff Harbour Board and the Invercargill Savings Bank. He was a warden and choir member of St John's Church. Edmund Wilson served a seven-year apprenticeship with the local firm of McKenzie and Gilbertson. He may also have served some time with noted Wellington architect Frederick de Jersey Clere. In 1902 he married Elizabeth Alice Mary Dickinson. They had three sons and two daughters.

Amongst Wilson's commissions in Invercargill were the Town Hall and Civic Theatre (1906), St Catherine's Girls' College, the fire station, and various retail stores. He designed many churches, both in Southland and elsewhere. These included St John's Anglican Church, Invercargill (1913), St Mary's, Merivale (1927), St Andrew's in Southbridge, Mid-Canterbury, and St Michael's, Kelburn, Wellington (1920). He designed town halls in Otautau and Bluff. Kew Hospital, which came near the end of his career, was among his most important commissions. Edmund Wilson was also a vestryman, lay reader and choir member of St John's. Two of his brothers were Anglican clergymen. Wilson was a President of the New Zealand Institute of Architects. Wilson died on 13 October 1941 and was buried in St John's Cemetery, Waikiwi, Invercargill. His wife, Elizabeth, died in 1955. Wilson's practice was inherited by Baxter Hesselin McDowell, now McDowell Architects, who retain his original plans.

McKenzie & Gilbertson

Charles Gilbertson's biographical details are not known but he is thought to have come to New Zealand from England. He was in partnership with one McKenzie until the latter went to Dunedin, leaving Gilbertson retaining the name of the firm, McKenzie and Gilbertson, in Invercargill. Gilbertson was responsible for many designs in Southland including the Invercargill Club and Christ Church, Clifton.

McKenzie and Gilbertson won a competition and built the northern end of the nave up to the clerestory. They were Invercargill architects in the 1870-1890s period and designed part of the old Dee Street Hospital.

Lawrence, Mollison and Associates

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Maori History

Ancient stories tell the origins of southern Maori, with the waka of Aoraki becoming Te Wai Pounamu (the South Island), and its sternpost, Te Taurapa a Te Waka o Aoraki becoming Bluff Hill (also known as Motupohue). The Maui traditions are told in the south, with Maui arriving in his waka Maahunui, and pulling up the stone to be used as an anchor - Te Puka o Te Waka a Maui (Rakiura). Maui’s achievements are recognised in place names in the south, including Omaui near Bluff, and Te Tapuwae o Maui and Te Rereka o Maui in Fiordland (Maui’s footstep and Maui’s leap).

Stories of the original explorers of the south are also told. The explorer Rakaihautu journeyed through the south with place names recalling his journey.

After Rakaihautu came the Takitimu waka with Tamatea Pokai Whenua. The waka was overcome by three waves O-te-wao, O-roko and O-kaka, coming to rest near the mouth of the Waiau (Waimeha). The three waves continued across the low lying lands and ended up as features of the landscape.

The early generations learnt about the land and its resources: stone sources were found, and stone (especially pounamu) became an important trading item. Kaika were established close to resources. Rights and resources and places were established, and traditions established which protected the manawhenua.

When traditions were written down Kati Mamoe and Kai Tahu dominate the history after Waitaha, with stories of war and peace, and intermarriage that spread through the south. In the early 1820s there was further fighting, with muskets first being used at this time, with major sieges in the more northern area of the South Island leading a retreat to the south. Ruapuke Island became the centre of leadership in the south, its isolation giving a measure of security. The final fight with the northern taua of Te Puoho and his followers at Tuturau in 1835-1836, where Te Puoho was defeated, saw the end of warfare in the region.

According to the Ngai Tahu Statutory acknowledgments in the settlement important villages along the south coast included: Te Wae Wae (Waiau), Taunoa (Orepuki), Kawakaputaputa (Wakapatu), Oraka (Colac bay), Aparima, Turangiteuaru, Awarua (Bluff), Te Whera, Toe Toe (mouth of the Mataura River) and Waikawa. Mokamoka (also known as Mokemoke or Mokomoko) was a settlement at the Invercargill estuary sustained by the rich resources found there. Tauranga waka occur up and down the coast linking land and sea trails with mahinga kai resources. Whaling boats plied the waters from the 1820s leading to changes in settlement patterns and resource use.

1853 saw the Murihiku purchase which left Maori south of the Waitaki (excluding the Otakou Block) with only 4,630 acres, the start of a long quest by southern Maori for justice questioning the legality of the purchase as well as the inadequacy of the land reserved.

The Anglican Church in Southland

In the early 1840s a Maori mission was set up on Ruapuke Island, the earliest known Anglican mission work in Southland. In 1844 Bishop Selwyn visited whaling stations and Maori communities on the Southern Coast.

Invercargill Township was laid out by chief surveyor John Turnbull Thomson in 1856, Thomson choosing the location for its centrality for both sea-based and land-based traffic, though the surrounding low lying swampy ground made the new settlement practically inaccessible. A visit from Bishop of Christchurch, the Right Rev. J.C. Harper and his son followed in 1857. Harper recalled their wading ashore at Waituna Lagoon: ‘Three fellows, stark naked, one of them a Bishop, up to their waists in water, clothes on their heads, plodding through mud and water.’ Southland was under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Christchurch until the Diocese of Dunedin was formed in 1868. Bishop Harper appointed T.J. White as the lay-reader to the nascent congregation, and White began the first Anglican services in Invercargill. St John’s is, therefore, the senior parish of Southland.

In 1858 superintendent J.H. Menzies gave two sections for the church and a vicarage. Collections in Dunedin and Invercargill provided £100, and in the same year Mrs C.T. Howard requested her English parson brother’s assistance and he donated £200 toward the building fund. With this £300 a small wooden church designed by E.J. Clarke, seating 90 parishioners, was built on the present site of St John’s. The name ‘St John’s’ was suggested by Nathaniel Chalmers.

The glint of gold in Queenstown and Central Otago drew people to Invercargill in the early 1860s as hopeful miners made their way from the port at Bluff through the town, and a network of commercial enterprises were set up as a result of the new demands. Spiritual needs were also foremost in the minds of many residents, with the congregation growing during this busy period. In 1865 a nave was added to St John’s Church, with the first building forming an aisle on the south side of the Church. Instead of building a chancel and a sanctuary a cedar screen (now in the choir vestry) was erected to divide the chancel from the nave.

In 1871 a Sunday School was built at the west end of the church. By 1874 more space for worshippers was needed and the dividing wall was torn down and the Sunday School was incorporated into the nave, though it was recognised that these alterations were but temporary solutions and a permanent place of worship was essential. As a first step, it was agreed that a parsonage be built in brick for W.P. Tanner, the first vicar of St John’s. In 1875 the tender of Mr Little was accepted at a price of £913.

With the arrival of the second vicar, Rev. H. Stocker, there was a further impetus toward building a new church. By the early 1880s the vestry were working at trying to meet the needs of the growing congregation. Architectural partnership Mackenzie and Gilbertson invited tenders for additions in brick and wood to the church, supervising the contract free of cost. The additions resulted in 50 additional seats.

In 1886 it was resolved by the vestry committee to call for designs for a new church. Fourteen architects submitted plans (perhaps a sign of the economic downturn of the 1880s and the need to get any new work). The plans of Mackenzie and Gilbertson were selected. The committee recognised that the parish was unable to afford the total cost of a new church, so it was agreed that the nave, excluding the clerestory be built first, at a cost of £1,050.

Mackenzie and Gilbertson went into partnership in June 1882 with Gilbertson joining John Mackenzie in his Dee Street offices in the Earnslaw Chambers. Little is known about Charles Gilbertson except that he was in partnership in the firm McKenzie & Gilbertson between 1882 and 1897, and subsequently practiced on his own account. During that time the firm built residential and commercial properties in the town such as the Clifton Church (1887), and the residence Altrive (1894) at Waipounamu, as well as the Invercargill Club on Don Street. In January 1897, the Weekly Times reported that Mr C. Gilbertson was due to leave Invercargill and had transferred his interests in the architectural firm to Mr E. R. Wilson. It is not clear if Gilbertson left, as he is reported to have designed Invercargill’s Victoria Railway Hotel in 1907. John Mackenzie retired to Nelson. The commission for St John’s seems to have been the most significant building the firm designed.

Tenders for the erection of the first section of the building were advertised in March 1887, with that of McLeod and Shaw accepted. The foundation stone was laid on 14 May 1887, with a full Masonic ceremony. The 94 Masons ‘issued from their hall’ preceded by the Garrison Band: ‘Two tylers with drawn swords, the architect with plans, stewards carrying ‘consecrating elements’: corn, wine, oil and salt, the secretary with the scroll, the treasurer with phial and coins, stewards with the plumb rule and the level, past masters with the square and the mallet, as well as other officials. The foundation stone was dedicated to the ‘glory of God and to the memory of St. John the Baptist.’

The Masonic ceremony was outlined in a lengthy article in the Southland Times. Architect Charles Gilbertson was Worshipful Master and played a prominent role in the ritual (as well as being a vestryman of St Johns). Contractors McLeod and Shaw presented Gilbertson with a silver trowel in recognition of his role. The architect ceremonially handed the plans to the builders, and having done so the consecrating elements (corn/abundance, wine/joy, oil/peace and salt/friendship) were placed on the stone. The mayor, though unable to attend the ceremony, conveyed his good wishes at the ‘very laudable undertaking’, commending the building as a structure which would ‘be an honour to the town of Invercargill and a credit to the parishioners of St. John’s.’

Gilbertson, in his position as worshipful master, emphasised the importance of the ceremony. ‘To the operative mason the foundation or corner stone was the one which that determined all other measurements; to the speculative mason every stone laid implied the social progress and prosperity which resulted from mutual support and relief’ and even more so when the foundation stone was laid in a building intended for the service of the ‘Supreme Ruler.’ He stated that ‘[a]ll communities cheerfully assisted in raising and supporting their churches, assistance especially needed in this colony where the Bible was not read in the schools and where there was no State aid for churches. The Masons were largely indebted to the Sunday schools as there the young were taught to reverence and respect what was good and true, and were trained in the principles which showed them their duty towards each other, the principles which in after life produced men who joined the Order, promoted its prosperity and enforced its teachings. In the name of the Masons he had to thank St. John’s Vestry for their courtesy in inviting the members of the craft to carry out so important a ceremony. He trusted the Church and the Craft would even labour in the same field with material respect and support.’

The first section of the building to be constructed was the bay of the north end of the nave. By September 1887 the carpentry work was nearly completed, and there was discussion about the internal arrangements for the new church. The seating was to be altered to suit the arrangement of new pews. The building was to be lit with gas. The Ladies Guild arranged for a church bell from Warner & Son in London, the old bell donated to Christ Church in Clifton.

The vestry’s attention also turned to the vicar’s accommodation. By 1889 the ‘Parsonage Fund’ was large enough to allow members to consider building plans. McKenzie and Gilbertson’s plans were again selected. The design provided an ‘entrance hall and two rooms’ on the ground floor, and four rooms on the first floor ‘in place of the wood portion which will be removed.’ The addition was designed to match the existing brick parsonage.

With a growing congregation, the education of the children became an important consideration. In 1895 the vestry indicated its intention to build a new Sunday School. The Sunday School movement was a growing international trend. In England, nineteenth century Sunday Schools evolved for children of the poor. The aim was ‘the inculcation of moral and religious truth, for the reformation of life and manners, which was the great object and final purpose of the Sunday School.’ Sunday Schools became an important social institution not only for children but for women, who predominantly served as teachers. At the heart of the movement were the feminine philosophies of nurture and guidance and it was here that women found opportunities to use their abilities. Sunday School teaching was considered to be a fitting womanly role that became central to women’s Christian reform work. It was in the last quarter of the nineteenth century that churches adopted the Sunday School as part of the church programme. By 1900, over 5 million children in Britain attended Sunday School. By the early twentieth century a new international movement arose to see the Sunday School as a training ground for future church leaders. Religious education took a higher profile.

Mackenzie and Gilbertson were again favoured with the design contract. The small building, which faced Esk Street, was completed in 1897. Yet again financial considerations were paramount, and the building was only partially completed, with a wall left with recessed spaces in the brick courses for an addition, when money allowed (the addition was never made, and the recessed spaces are still visible).

The lack of space in the church remained a matter of concern for the congregation. In 1901 a building fund was established to provide money for further additions. The tender was advertised in 1911 and the plans of E.R. Wilson (who was previously articled to Charles Gilbertson, and who took over Mackenzie and Gilbertson’s practice) were accepted. The tender for £6,600 was accepted. Yet again, however, the fully realised proposal was unreachable, and the tower which formed a pivotal part in Wilson’s plans went unbuilt, and the nave was only half completed. The old church was apparently demolished at this time, with worship temporarily relocated to Victoria Hall. The contractors were Henry and Andrews.

In George Featherstone proposed that a new organ be purchased. Support was forthcoming with £900 being raised in a month. On 27 July 1903 the organ was dedicated. It was built by Hill, Norman and Beard of London at a cost of £1,200. The organ was erected by Mr Pearce of Invercargill.

The church was opened and consecrated as ‘St John the Divine’ on 26 February 1913, with Primate of New Zealand and Bishop of Dunedin the most Rev. S.T. Nevill performing the dedication. At the same service the window above the high altar was dedicated to John Turnbull Thomson (the pioneering surveyor in Otago and Southland) and his wife Jane. The ‘well-proportioned and handsome’ high altar was carved by Invercargill dentist C.C. Jennings.

During Nevill’s episcopate twenty two new places of worship were opened, a strong period of growth in the Anglican Church. For the Anglican Church theologians of the Victorian period maintained that spirituality was the chief concern of the church and that ‘expression of this spirituality’ was an essential part of the services and of the church buildings. The timber vaulted ceilings, windows, altars and other decorative forms within the church were important expressions of the theology and practice of the time. These elements in St John’s, the carved pulpit, altar rails and other religious furniture, are significant manifestations of the spiritual philosophy and practice of the Victorian and early Edwardian period. The decoration of exterior of the Church itself is restrained, with contrasting stone facings and the window details providing the focus.

In 1917 St John’s School was established, with eleven pupils operating in the grounds of St John’s Church, shifting to a permanent site and becoming a private school in 1931.

In 1921 Rev. John Arthur Lush began his ministry which was to last over the next twenty nine years. He encouraged fundraising to lift the parish out of its financial difficulties. Lush supported the establishment of an endowment fund, the creation of which was enabled through a series of fairs, and through the sale of land on the corner of Tay and Deveron Streets, with the condition that it be used only for educational purposes (the RSA Hall stands on the site).

Some breathing space was provided by a 1923 legacy of £5,000 from prominent Southland landowner and politician Reginald Mackinnon. Mackinnon’s philanthropic legacy lives through the Reginald Mitta Mackinnon Trust. English-born Mackinnon arrived in New Zealand in 1878 and became part owner of Mount Linton Station at Waiau. He was also active in local politics and arts. With the money the vestry decided to pay of their existing mortgage, to provide a new vicarage, and to build a hall on Tay Street behind the vicarage in memory of Rev. H. Stocker, the second vicar of the parish. English-born Rev. Harry Stocker, later Archdeacon, was in charge of the parish from 1882 until retirement in 1912. He was remembered for his community involvement and his care for those who needed is support. The Memorial Hall was designed by E.R. Wilson (now the church architect), and cost £3,600. It was opened by Bishop Right Rev. Isaac Richards in 1925. The legacy was also used to install an electric pneumatic action and a third manual in the organ.

The only major building project since that time has been the construction of the Narthex on the north side of the church in 1976, designed by O.C. Lawrence from the offices of Smith, Rice, Lawrence & Mollison (now known as Mollison and Associates).The stained glass windows were obtained from the Dunedin Diocese and were donated by parishioners for use in this addition and are memorial windows.

In the last few years the Church has undergone an exterior maintenance programme with substantial outside funding support, and an office/records room has been built in the transept. Significantly, the stained glass windows have been protected by the installation of safety glass. The side porch of the Memorial Hall was removed in 2010 to provide an open view between the church and the hall to discourage vandalism in this part of the grounds. In 2010 the congregation continues to worship in St John’s and uses the hall and meetings spaces in the adjoining buildings for community occasions.

Physical Description

Setting

The complex of buildings associated with St John’s Church is located in the town centre of Invercargill City in Southland. They occupy a site which has frontages to both Tay and Esk Streets. Tay Street is the main arterial road north. Immediately to the west are the impressive and restored Civic Theatre and the Invercargill City Council Offices. To the east are the RSA Hall, Lounge and Offices and Bowling Green.

The buildings are set amidst lawns and mature tree plantings and gardens. This setting softens the urban area and provides a sense of retreat and contemplation within an otherwise urban location.

The main entrance to St John’s Church is on Esk Street, facing north. The building is set back, with the small brick Sunday School building closer to the street. Access to the Church is up a tar-sealed drive with a turning circle. Mature trees are planted at the western boundary edge. A freestanding Bell Tower is located between St John’s and the Memorial Hall. Along the north elevation is a columbarium and garden plot for ashes commemorating those parishioners whose ashes are interred there.

The rear (south) elevation of St John’s faces Tay Street. The building is set back with footpath access to the church, with three yew trees planted between the buildings and the street. The former Vicarage is located immediately to the east of St John’s. The main entrance faces Tay Street. Attached to the rear of the Vicarage is the Memorial Hall which sits in the confined space between the Church and the boundary of the property.

St John’s Church

Exterior

St John’s is a substantial red brick Church. The Church is built in Gothic Revival style. The red brick is contrasted with the contrasting stone facings, which form a decorative feature of the wall buttresses. The windows have shallow pointed arches with decorative stone tracery in the form of trefoil and cinquefoils; the building is roofed partly with concrete tiles and partly with metal tiles. The 1887 and 1913 exteriors have all original brick walls, windows, and doors. These are unaltered since construction.

The Church is basically cruciform in plan, with secondary gables which house the choir robing room, vestry and side chapel. The nave is crossed by the transept, with the sanctuary in a smaller matching gable.

The 1976 narthex is a notably modern addition, but using matching materials. The bricks are used in the form of rectangular panels, with fair face concrete between the panels. The roof is metal tiles. The narthex is the main entrance to the church, with two pairs of timber doors on the north wall. The floor is white marble in the lower section of the narthex, and timber on the east and west leading to the nave. There are stained glass windows in the north elevation. The south wall is the original 1887 exterior wall, with its stained glass windows and memorial plaques have been retained.

The Windows

The windows are all of similar form. They are all Gothic arched with stone tracery. The gable end windows are large with coloured glass and lead light panels. The windows in the vestry and choir robing room are round headed multipane casement windows.

The stained glass window behind the altar, a memorial to John Turnbull Thomson, is particularly significant. It consists of five windows, each with a trefoil arch, divided into four separate panels, joined by a tiered division, with stone tracery. The windows are thought to have been made by Burlison and Grylls of London or by C.E. Kempe. The glass is a combination of painted and decorated glass, probably from Hartley Wood & Co: some flashed glass, mouthblown ‘Antique’ and some ‘Pot’ type glass.

The stained glass windows in the narthex were obtained from the Dunedin Diocese and donated to the parish as memorial windows, by individual parishioners.

Interior

St John’s is basically cruciform in plan, with a central nave with side aisles and transept, marked by stone columns. The main entrance is through the narthex on the north elevation. The choir, altar and sanctuary are on the south end of the nave. The timber vaulted ceilings are particularly notable. All spaces retain evidence of their original construction - windows, doors, wall and ceiling linings and trim. On the east side of the choir are a number of secondary rooms: a kitchen and meeting room, a store, organ room, porch and vestry. A chapel is located on the west of the choir.

The secondary rooms, the vestry and the robing room (or meeting room) are more modest in their decoration. The vestry has its original built in wardrobe. The ceilings, like those of the robing room are lined with tongue and groove timber. The meeting room has a coved matchlined ceiling. It has vertical tongue and groove lining on the walls.

The interior is notable for its timber furniture, memorial plaques, screens, carved panels, and the Thomson Memorial window.

These rooms have had minor alterations to suit evolving uses, including the recent partitioning off of a space in the transept for office space and storage for church records, using the rail that was previously located between the Nave and the Choir.

St John’s Vicarage (1876, addition 1880) and Memorial Hall (1925)

Exterior

The former vicarage is a one and a half storey residential building converted for use as office, with the 1925 Memorial Hall added to the north elevation. The building is constructed of red brick with concrete lintels above the windows and decorative arch over the main entrance doors. The form of the building is complex with a series of transecting, steeply pitched gables (a roof plan has been included in the appendices). A steep projecting gable runs through the centre (north/south) of the vicarage. The Vicarage was originally roofed with slate, but this has been replaced with corrugated iron. The south elevation has timber double-hung sash windows. The main door is set into a sheltered porch.

To the north elevation has been added the Memorial Hall, with original door and window openings in the vicarage bricked up but still visible. This is a large single gabled hall constructed of brick to match the rest of the complex. The west wall has evenly spaced casement window openings at first floor level, each with three casements with three fanlights above, and one additional opening with two casements and fanlights. The entrance is through double doors on the west elevation.

Interior

The building serves as the Church Office and the main entrance to the Memorial Hall. The vicarage has a meeting room, kitchen, toilets and foyer at ground floor level. The staircase to the first floor has been removed (a trapdoor in the hallway marks the former location of the stairs), and the first floor rooms shut off.

There have been alterations to the interior. The three original features are the lobby timber panelled ceiling, the entrance doors, and the archway between the lobby and the passage, and the door with hardware and porcelain inserts.

Memorial Hall (1925)

The hall is rectangular in plan. Internal access to the Hall is through doors from the kitchen and the foyer of the former vicarage. The Hall has a raised stage at the north end with a basement underneath the stage.

The floors are timber. The walls are timber panelled. There are four tiled fireplaces (no longer operational) set around the walls.

Sunday School (Former) (1896)

Exterior

The domestic-styled building is brick on concrete foundations with a corrugated iron roof. The building is basically T-shaped in plan with a lean-to entrance porch tucked in the angle between the projecting gable on the north elevation. The building has timber windows with concrete sills and lintels. Small windows are located at the first floor level on the gable ends.

Interior

The interior has been renovated, including walls and ceilings. Some rooms have been subdivided. The inside of the building was not inspected for this report.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1861 -
Original wooden church constructed

Addition
1866 -
Addition to timber church

Addition
1871 - 1876
Additions to timber Church. Vicarage constructed

Designed
1887 -
Brick church designed by Mackenzie and Gilbertson constructed around original. Only part of the proposed design was built.

Original Construction
1897 -
Sunday School constructed, designed by MacKenzie and Gilbertson.

Addition
1911 - 1913
Additions to complete the Church designed by E.R. Wilson

Original Construction
1925 -
Memorial Hall constructed (E.R. Wilson).

Addition
1976 -
Narthex addition (Lawrence, Mollison and Associates), completing the original concept of McKenzie and Gilbertson’s design

Modification
-
1993- Stairs removed from Vicarage

Construction Details

Brick, stone, concrete, corrugated iron

Completion Date

16th February 2011

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Information Sources

Andersen, 1998

A Anderson, The Welcome of Strangers: an ethnohistory of southern Maori A.D. 1650-1850, University of Otago Press, Dunedin, 1998.

Evans, 1968

J. Evans 1968 Southern See: The Anglican Diocese of Dunedin New Zealand, J. McIndoe, Dunedin

Millar, 1961

David Millar, A hundred years: being a history of the Church of St. John the Divine, Invercargill, N.Z., from 1861 to 1961, Invercargill, 1961

Other Information

A fully referenced Registration Report is available from the Otago/Southland Area office of NZHPT.

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.