Picturesque St James' Church, opened in 1872, and built of stone and designed by local contractor Henry Norton, sits on a prominent corner site in the small Central Otago town of Roxburgh.
People of all denominations were among the many thousands who trekked to the goldfields in the 1860s. An Anglican presence was first felt in Central Otago in 1861 when Bishop Harper, the Bishop of Christchurch, travelled through the area and held services. By the time Reverend Nevill was appointed Lord Bishop of Dunedin in 1871 the church committee in Roxburgh wrote to Nevill expressing their desire for a church. The church was under construction by March 1872. The completed stone church was opened in November 1872 by the Rev. Beaumont, then vicar of Roxburgh, with John Dewe assisting.
In 1950 the eightieth anniversary was celebrated and the Church restored. The restoration was blessed by Bishop of Dunedin (and past vicar of the parish 1902-1911) the Right Reverend William Fitchett, and a brass plaque mounted on the building to commemorate the work. Rev. P.C.Williams, recalled the value and heritage of the Church: 'hallowed by the prayers of so many over the past eighty years.' Twenty years later the centenary was celebrated with the publication of a short history of the church.
St James Church, designed in Gothic revival style, is built of stone. It has decorative stone facings surrounding the lancet windows and the main entrance door, and stone quoins on the corners of the building. The roof is corrugated iron. The Church provides seating for 100. The interior walls are plastered, and the ceiling is lined with tongue and grooved timber.
St James' Anglican Church has architectural, historical and spiritual significance. The Church is constructed from local stone and demonstrates a traditional English architectural style. The church's simple Gothic style, with its sturdy simplicity emphasised by the restrained interior decoration, adds to the contemplative and spiritual function of the building. St James' Anglican Church tells part of the story of the development of Anglicanism in Central Otago and the work of the church community illustrates the importance of community support and initiatives in the establishment of the Church. The church has spiritual significance as a place of worship for the Roxburgh Anglican community for over 130 years.
Historical Significance or Value
St James' Church has historical significance as it tells part of the story of the development of Anglicanism in Central Otago. Through its history it demonstrates the importance of Christianity in the culture of gold miners in nineteenth century Central Otago, and the work of the church community that contributed to the fundraising to cover some of the building costs, as well as for later projects, including histories commemorating anniversaries of the Church, which illustrate the importance of community support and initiatives in the establishment of the Church.
ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE OR VALUE:
St James' Church has architectural significance. The church, designed by local contractor Henry Norton, is constructed from the local stone that many of the early Roxburgh buildings were built from, and demonstrates a traditional English architectural style using local material, making it part of the vernacular architectural style of Roxburgh. The building is designed in simple Gothic style adding to the contemplative and spiritual function of the building.
SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OR VALUE:
The church has spiritual significance as a place of worship for the Roxburgh Anglican community for over 130 years, a function that it continues to have in 2008.
(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:
The history of St James' Anglican Church reflects the importance of established religion in nineteenth century Otago, and the community support for providing a formal place of worship. The history of the Church, of the activities of the building committee, the fundraising and services held in the Church provide an illustration of the significance of the Church to its community.
(e) The community association with, or public esteem for the place:
The congregation of the church hold it in high esteem for its spiritual associations, and are proud of its long 130 year history. This is illustrated by the publication of two histories of the St James' Anglican Church to commemorate the building and those who have supported the Church throughout its life.
SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANCE OR VALUES:
This place was assessed against, and found it to qualify under the following criteria: a and e.
It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category II historic place.
The history of the Roxburgh area is intrinsically linked with the history of gold mining in Central Otago. In 1861 Gabriel Read's discovery of gold in Gabriel's Gully, near present-day Lawrence, started a rush to this area. Roxburgh was a small town en route between the sites of these two gold rushes, Lawrence, closer to eastern Otago, and Clyde, in Central Otago. Roxburgh is now better known for its orchards and fruit production, and is also the site of one of the first hydro-electric dams in Central Otago, constructed in the 1950s.
While Dunedin was established as a Presbyterian Free Church settlement, there were people of all denominations among the many thousands who trekked to the goldfields in the 1860s. An Anglican presence was first felt in Central Otago in 1861 when Bishop Harper, the Bishop of Christchurch, travelled through the area and held services, sometimes in the open air. Bishop Harper had made earlier visits to Dunedin itself, but not to the goldfields. In 1866 Bishop George Selwyn visited the goldfields.
In 1868, a vicar was appointed to Lawrence, who occasionally travelled to Roxburgh to hold services there, held in the school after it was erected in 1869.
By the time Reverend Nevill was appointed Lord Bishop of Dunedin in 1871 there was a church committee in Roxburgh, which began writing to Nevill regarding the building of a church in their town. John Beighton, one of the committee, offered a suitable site.
Eventually it was agreed to build an Anglican church in Roxburgh. The building was designed by Henry Norton. Tenders were called in 1871, with that of Henry Rees and Philip Mylrea accepted. The total cost of the building and furnishings, all included in the tender, was £440 10s. A large donation towards these costs came from J. Kitchen, who was manager and later lessee of Moa Flat Station. The stonemason was Paul Campbell, who was also responsible for the stone work on the Alexandra bridge piers. The building was under construction by March 1872 and was seen as 'an ornament to the town.'
The completed church opened in November of the following year by the Rev. Beaumont, then vicar of Roxburgh, with John Dewe assisting. The Tuapeka Times recorded the occasion and provided a description of the building:
'The church, which is an exceedingly pretty one, is built of stone, and consists of nave 31ft. by 21 ft.; chancel, 13ft. by 11ft.; and vestry with principal entrance porch. The style is perpendicular Gothic. The nave of the building is divided into four bays with open principals, the ribs of which spring from moulded corbels. The whole construction of the roof being exposed and varnished. The east and west gables are lighted with triple, mullioned windows with spandrils at head. The side windows are double, mullioned with spandrils at head. All the windows are ground glass quarry lead lights with stained glass borders, and with the exception of the east window, have stained glass spandrils. The main wall of the building at the line of the chancel is opened up by a Gothic arch springing from circular shafts, and the chancel floor is raised, as required for the services of the church. The communion railing is placed about mid-distance of the depth. It with the communion table is made of red pine, the pillars being beautifully polished. In the chancel stand the prayer desk and pulpit, formed with gothic bronzed uprights. Over the main gable there is an open campanile. The whole of the gables are finished with appropriate cross finials varied in design...We are sure that the committee and all others who took so thoroughly a kind and hearty interest in the work, will look back with pleasure on their many and great exertions, which have resulted in the erection of a building so suitable for the purpose for which it is intended.'
The Church was named St James at the request of John Beighton, whose family had come from St James parish in Nottingham, England. The church bell was purchased from Melbourne a year later for a price of £8 17s. The lancet window known as the Harrop window had been the central window in the old temporary chancel of St Paul's Cathedral, Dunedin, and depicts the Good Shepherd. Bishop Nevill found this window for the church when it was being built.
The building work was still not quite complete in 1875. The stonework was pointed by the builders Mylrea and Rees in December 1875. The writer described the pointing work as 'very creditable' and thought the building 'vastly improved.' There was also hope that the church would be fenced and the grounds planted 'so that it may be in character with the surrounding buildings.'
The Church was consecrated on 12 December 1880, when the construction debt was cleared.
The first vicar of St James was the Rev. John Dewe, who had assisted at the church opening as a lay reader and was later ordained, first as a deacon and then as a priest, in 1874 at Lawrence. In 1875 Rev. Dewe was transferred to Clyde, and from this time the vicar lived at Clyde but travelled to Roxburgh to hold weekly services, within the larger Dunstan parish. In 1915 this arrangement changed, with the vicar residing at Roxburgh and including Tapanui in his parish. Twenty years later this changed again, with the vicar residing at Lawrence, but again in 1948 a move was made back to Roxburgh.
In 1934 the oak altar was given, and in 1950 the reredos was added.
In 1950 the eightieth anniversary was celebrated and the Church restored. Closely planted trees that were damaging the structure of the building were cut down, but not before there was damage to the plaster work. In addition borer had damaged the floors and pews; this issue was also addressed, with new pews installed. The restoration was blessed by Bishop of Dunedin (and past vicar of the parish 1902-1911) the Right Reverend William Fitchett, and a brass plaque mounted on the building to commemorate the work. Rev. P.C.Williams, vicar at the time of the restoration recorded the value and heritage of the Church:
'hallowed by the prayers of so many over the past eighty years. We go forward from this milestone in the life of a building which we love, with renewed loyalty to that spiritual building, the Church of God. The love and devotion, so willingly given to its maintenance, the prayers and praises which rise from within its four walls, are the outward sign and symbol of the inward and spiritual grace which we share with all Christians.'
Twenty years later the centenary was celebrated with the publication of a short history of the church.
Restoration work was carried out on the church in 2003, with missing stones and mortar as well as the belfry timber being replaced.
In 2007 St James continues to be the focus for Anglican worship in Roxburgh and its surrounding community.
St James Church is located on a corner site in Roxburgh. Roxburgh is a small rural service town part way between Lawrence and Alexandra in Central Otago. The Church sits on a grassed corner section, and is bordered by other small scale buildings, with the commercial centre and residential areas nearby. The Presbyterian Church is also constructed of local stone, as is common in Central Otago.
St James Church, designed in Gothic revival style, is built of stone. It has decorative stone facings surrounding the lancet windows and the main entrance door, and stone quoins on the corners of the building. The roof is corrugated iron. The church provides seating for 100.
The nave is a single-gabled structure, with a smaller gabled sanctuary on the north elevation, with a vestry to the west. A porch and vestry, also gabled, project at right angles from the nave on the west elevation. Both the porch and the vestry have double entrance doors. A small belfry is mounted on the southern gable end. The south elevation has a large lancet window, known as the Harrop window.
The interior walls are plastered, and the ceiling is lined with tongue and grooved timber.
St James opened
Stone wall surrounding the grounds was erected (demolished post 1952)
Restoration work, removal of trees, repair plaster work, replacement pews, floor repaired
Demolished - additional building on site
Stone walls demolished- post-1950s
Further restoration work undertaken
6th May 2008
Report Written By
Angela Middleton/Heather Bauchop
R. Gilkison, Early Days in Central Otago Whitcoulls, Christchurch, 1978
P C Williams, Eighty Years Old - The Church of S. James Roxburgh 1872-1952, Tapanui, 1952
Hardwicke Knight, Church Building in Otago, Dunedin, 1993.
A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Otago/Southland Area office
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.