All Saints' Church (Anglican)

786 Cumberland Street, Dunedin

  • All Saints' Church (Anglican).
    Copyright: Advertising & Art. Taken By: Stewart Robertson.
  • All Saints' Church (Anglican). Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Shelley Morris - Madam48. Taken By: Shelley Morris - Madam48. Date: 19/10/2013.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2136 Date Entered 27th July 1988


City/District Council

Dunedin City


Otago Region

Legal description

Secs 46 & 47 Blk 31 Town of Dunedin

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The old St Pauls was the first major Anglican church in Dunedin, built in 1862 and demolished early in this century. A wooded church was built at Caversham in 1864, which was moved to Mornington and demolished about the 1960s. All Saints was the third Anglican church built in 1865 and hence is the oldest standing Anglican church in Dunedin. The land was given by Mr (later Sir) James Allen and the foundation stone laid on 11 February 1865. The church was built rapidly (admittedly only the nave and baptistery) and opened on 23 July 1865. The transepts and chancel were added in 1873, by Mason to Clayton's plan. The church has had close ties with the University, particularly through Selwyn College immediately behind it , which was built as an Anglican theological college in 1892, added to in 1928 and converted to a University Hall of Residence in 1966.


This is one of the few buildings in Dunedin which can be attributed to Clayton, Mason's early partner. It is the only polychromatic brick church in Dunedin.


An important element in the old buildings surrounding the North Ground, which form with its old trees a harmonious inner cityscape around a green space.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Clayton, William Henry

Born in Tasmania, Clayton (1823-1877) travelled to Europe with his family in 1842. He studied architecture in Brussells and was then articled to Sir John Rennie, engineer to the Admiralty, in London. He returned to Tasmania in 1848 and worked in private practice until he was appointed Government Surveyor in 1852.

He resumed private practice in 1855 and was involved with surveying in the Launceston area. In 1857 he was elected an alderman on the Launceston Municipal Council. By the time Clayton immigrated to Dunedin in 1863 he had been responsible for the design of many buildings including churches, banks, a mechanics' institute, a theatre, steam and water mills, breweries, bridges, mansions and villas, in addition to being a land surveyor and road engineer.

In 1864 he entered partnership with William Mason. Mason and Clayton were responsible for some important buildings in Dunedin including All Saints Church (1865) and The Exchange (former Post Office) (1865) as well as the Colonial Museum, Wellington (1865). These were two of the most prominent architects of their day in New Zealand.

In 1869 Clayton became the first and only Colonial Architect and was responsible for the design of Post and Telegraph offices, courthouses, customhouses, Government department offices and ministerial residences. His acknowledged masterpiece is Government Buildings, Wellington (1876) a stone-simulated wooden building and the largest timber framed building in the Southern Hemisphere.

Clayton was a prolific and highly accomplished architect both within the Public Service and in private practice, in New Zealand and Australia.


Mason, William

Mason had been in New Zealand for 20 years when he first set up as an architect in the gold mining boom town of Dunedin in 1862. He had been an official under Governor Hobson and was a respected Member of Parliament. He designed the old Post Office building which became the Exchange Building, the former Bank of New Zealand and the Bank of New South Wales - all now demolished. He also designed the 1864 Exhibition building which became part of the Dunedin Hospital. Mason had retired briefly in the late 1860s but returned to work with Wales (1871-1874) and during this time designed Bishopscourt and the extension to All Saints. He then retired to live at Glenorchy.

In 1863 William Mason took W H Clayton into partnership and formed Mason and Clayton. Buildings designed by Mason and Clayton (while Clayton was in Dunedin) included All Saints Church, Edinburgh House, the Bank of New South Wales on Princess Street and the old Provincial Chambers. Of these only All Saints Church remains.

Gore, James

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description


The style of the building is Early English (Lombardo-Gothic) with notable constructional polychromy. Instead of a spire there is a high front gable with a very large window with narrow gothic tracery. The great front door repeats the pattern of the window.


The roof had been renewed with tiles instead of slates and the interior repainted plain white. Soon after the building was erected the south wall sagged and was buttressed. There is now no sign of a buttress (except for the wings of the fa├žade), and the church had been strengthened with unobtrusive steel cross ties. One side door in the southern transept chapel has been removed to combat dampness. The pulpit and altar have been bought forward into the transept and new railings made in 1970 around the altar. Two stained glass windows from St Hildas old chapel have been placed in the nave and sacristy.

Notable Features

Its age, its polychromatic brick, its association with Clayton.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1865 -

1873 -
The transepts and chancel were added

1970 -
Pulpit and altar moved forward into the transept and new railings made around the altar.

1970 -
Two stained glass windows from St Hildas old chapel have been placed in the nave and in the sacristy.

Construction Details

The Church was founded 'nigh to a bog into which a horse disappeared' (Janet Angus). James Gore was the builder. The front north walls are triple brick of a softer orange-red than most of Dunedin's bricks, relieved by bands of cream bricks with crosses, circles and arches outlined in black and white tiles. The chancel walls are concrete or plaster over brick and the south wall of the nave is rough casted with orange-brown Moeraki gravel. The walls were built by an 'advanced' method without buttresses. The roof was covered with fish-tail slates but has been re-roofed with dark brown tiles. The interior was richly painted in part as 'a gesture towards the new fashion for decoration which men like Pugin and Butterfield had pioneered in England' (Stacpoole1976), but it is now plain white plaster enriched by handsome stained glass windows. A photo of the interior (held by the church) in 1879 shows that the arch into the sanctuary was framed by a biblical text in ornate gothic lettering and the walls were covered either with tiles or with a painted tile pattern with a small fan in the bottom left hand corner of each tile. The altar windows were smaller than the present ones with elaborate chequered arches painted around them. The present larger windows were donated by P C Neill. There are two altars in carved wood, the front one being the older and well carved in gothic style.

Other Information

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

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.