St Paul's Presbyterian Church (Former)

856 Cleland Road, Totara Valley

  • St Paul’s Presbyterian Church (Former) 2012. Image courtesy of Rev. Martin Stewart.
    Copyright: Rev. Martin Stewart. Taken By: Rev. Martin Stewart.
  • St Paul’s Presbyterian Church (Former) 2012. Image courtesy of Rev. Martin Stewart.
    Copyright: Rev. Martin Stewart. Taken By: Rev. Martin Stewart.
  • St Paul’s Presbyterian Church (Former) 2012. Image courtesy of Rev. Martin Stewart.
    Copyright: Rev. Martin Stewart. Taken By: Rev. Martin Stewart.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1995 Date Entered 23rd June 1983

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Pt RS 9044 (CT CB147/33), Canterbury Land District, and the building known as St Paul's Presbyterian Church (Former) thereon. The registration excludes the wooden Sunday School building to the rear of the church.

City/District Council

Timaru District

Region

Canterbury Region

Legal description

Pt RS 9044 (CT CB147/33), Canterbury Land District

Summaryopen/close

Constructed in 1890, the small limestone Grecian-style building known as St Paul’s Presbyterian Church (Former), at 856 Cleland Road, Totara Valley, has historical, architectural and aesthetic significance.

The Reverend George Barclay of the Presbyterian Church is credited with founding the majority of the 14 parishes in South Canterbury between 1865 and 1872. He was very interested in education and he played a part in the establishment of most schools in the area. The area included the farming district of Totara Valley which extended for several kilometres on the northern bank of the Tengawai River in the Levels County. Previously services at Totara Valley were conducted in the upper Totara Valley school-room and in private homes but these proved too small for the congregation. The community was active in raising funds for the construction of a church, and land was given by the New Zealand and Australian Land Company, through Mr O N Orbell, manager of the Levels estate. Mr W Annan, Levels Road Board Overseer, supplied the architectural plans and specifications. In January 1890 two teams of local men carted limestone from the Fraser Brothers Estate for building the church. At its opening in October 1890, the Reverend J. Dickson said that the new church ‘would stand an attack of the Russians, with its strong walls and stone doorways’. It was also praised for its excellent acoustics.

The limestone church is situated in rural Totara Valley, on a raised grassy area off Cleland Road, approximately 65 metres eastward of the T-junction where Hays Road joins. Its austere style, with relatively plain corner pilasters, entablature and pediment takes after Grecian architecture. The rectangular footprint of the main part of the church is approximately 12 metres by 10 metres and the entrance is through a porch 3 metres by 2.7 metres on the north elevation. The gabled roof is clad in corrugated iron. The interior is plastered and its coved ceilings have ornamental ventilators. The windows are round arched and incorporate stained glass.

In 1903 the Cyclopedia of New Zealand noted that regular services were held, accommodating up to 120 worshippers, at St Paul’s Presbyterian Church and that the minister at Pleasant Point was in charge. A Sunday school, consisting of 40 children and four teachers, also utilised the building. In August 1919, Andrew Cleland, one of the original building committee, died at the age of 73. He left a legacy to the church, part of which was to add a porch. Mr Broadhead prepared plans and offered to direct the construction of the addition. However, there was no progress and later Mr Harding took over and construction of the porch began in March 1925. As with the original building work, local residents helped with stone cartage and construction. By 1928 tall trees were overshadowing the church, causing dampness, and these were removed. Renovations were carried out in 1940 and again in 1955 when plastering was done by Messrs W A and J F Wallace. The roof was also repaired, probably around this time. Electricity was brought to the building in 1965 and around this time the original timber dado lining and a pot belly stove were removed. As well as being used for church services, Sunday school sessions and weddings, for many years there was an annual soirée held in the building. In 2013 it was sold into private ownership and is slowly being converted into a home.

Linksopen/close

Construction Professionalsopen/close

W. Annand

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Messrs Morgan and Travers

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Messrs Malcolm and MacKay

Woodwork contractors

W. Guthrie

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Mr Broadhead

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Mr Harding

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1890 -
Church constructed

Addition
1925 -

Completion Date

13th November 2017

Report Written By

Robyn Burgess

Information Sources

Timaru District Built Heritage Inventory: From Mesopotamia to Pareora River

Opus International Consultants, Timaru District Built Heritage Inventory: From Mesopotamia to Pareora River, July 2004

The centennial history, Albury-Pleasant Point Parish 1879-1979

Crawford, Juliet, The centennial history, Albury-Pleasant Point Parish 1879-1979, 1979

Other Information

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.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Southern Regional Office of Heritage New Zealand