St Mary's Church

437 Parnell Road, Parnell, Auckland

  • St Mary's Church. Image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org.
    Copyright: Gadfium Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Gadfium. Date: 17/01/2006.
  • St Mary's Church. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: peteshep©. Taken By: peteshep©. Date: 12/10/2012.
  • St Mary's Church. Images courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: peteshep©. Taken By: peteshep©. Date: 12/10/2012.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Registered List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1
List Number 21 Date Entered 26th November 1981

Locationopen/close

City/District Council

Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)

Region

Auckland Region

Legal description

Lot 3 DP 73377 Pt Allot 34A Sec 3 Subs of AK

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Construction Professionalsopen/close

Mountfort, Benjamin Woolfield

Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort (1825-98) trained as an architect in England, in the office of Richard Cromwell Carpenter, a member of the Cambridge Camden Society (later the Ecclesiological Society). He arrived in Canterbury in 1850.

Mountfort was New Zealand's pre-eminent Gothic Revival architect and, according to architectural historian Ian Lochhead, 'did most to shape the architectural character of nineteenth-century Christchurch.' The buildings he designed were almost exclusively in the Gothic Revival style.

During his career he designed many churches and additions to churches; those still standing include the Trinity Congregational Church in Christchurch (1874), St Mary's Church in Parnell, Auckland and the Church of the Good Shepherd in Phillipstown, Christchurch (1884). In 1857 he became the first architect to the province of Canterbury. He designed the Canterbury Provincial Council Buildings in three stages from 1858 to 1865. The stone chamber of this building can be considered the greatest accomplishment of his career. He was involved in many important commissions from the 1870s, including the Canterbury Museum (1869-82) and the Clock-tower Block on the Canterbury College campus (1876-77). He was also involved in the construction of Christchurch's Cathedral and made several major modifications to the original design.

Mountfort introduced a number of High Victorian elements to New Zealand architecture, such as the use of constructional polychromy, probably first used in New Zealand in the stone tower of the Canterbury Provincial Government Buildings (1859). Overall, his oeuvre reveals a consistent and virtually unerring application of Puginian principles including a commitment to the Gothic style, honest use of materials and picturesque utility. The result was the construction of inventive and impressive buildings of outstanding quality. He died in Christchurch in 1898. A belfry at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Phillipstown, the church he attended for the last ten years of his life, was erected in his honour.