St Luke's Vicarage

185 Kilmore Street West, Christchurch

  • St Luke's Vicarage.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Melanie Lovell-Smith. Date: 1/09/2001.
  • .
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Melanie Lovell-Smith. Date: 1/09/2001.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 3132 Date Entered 15th February 1990


City/District Council

Christchurch City


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Pt Res 19 Chch City


The construction of the first St Luke's Church began in 1859, on one of the five church reserves set aside by the Canterbury Association, the organisation that planned the settlement of Christchurch. It was the second church in the parish of Christchurch and was built to accommodate the overflow from St Michael and All Angels and for members of the Anglican congregation who lived on the north side of the Avon. As Christchurch prospered during the 1860s, a number of wealthier citizens moved out to the northern edges of the town. The new St Luke's parish (established 1868) encompassed 'all that part of the original Parish of Christchurch, lying to the north of a line drawn from the College down the middle of Colombo Street, thence along Armagh Street to the East Town Belt.'

The establishment of a separate parish required the appointment of a clergyman, and the provision of accommodation for him. St Luke's Vicarage was originally built as a residence for the Reverend Edward Atherton Lingard and his family. The size of the vicarage, and the provision of servants' quarters reflect both the wealth of the parish and the social status of the vicar.

St Luke's Vicarage was designed by the British architect Robert Speechly, who had been appointed to supervise the building of Christchurch Cathedral in 1864. However, lack of funding for the cathedral soon halted work on it. Speechly, assisted by his pupil and later his partner, William Fitzjohn Crisp, worked out the remainder of his four-year contract supervising other buildings undertaken for the Anglican Church Property Trustees. Such buildings included St Luke's Vicarage as well as Christ's College Chapel (1867) and St Mary's Church in Merivale (1866).

The vicarage is a large timber house, with Speechly's distinctive hoods over the ground floor windows and entrance. Ian Lochhead has said of the vicarage that it is 'one of the best and least modified examples of the Ecclesiologically inspired vicarage in New Zealand.' Under the influence of British architects closely associated with the Ecclesiological movement, a 'simple, earnest, moral Gothic architecture', Gothic in detail, but adapted for nineteenth-century needs and made from local materials, became seen as particularly appropriate for parsonages in the mid Victorian era. At St Luke's Vicarage, Speechly and Crisp reinterpreted these ideas using the plentiful New Zealand building material, wood. The vicarage is an important example of the adaptation of a English ideal to New Zealand conditions. Despite the ideals that prompted the design, the local history of the parish records that most vicars and their families found it an inconvenient building to live in.

St Luke's Vicarage illustrates elements of Christchurch's religious and social history. It is significant architecturally as one of the best preserved examples of Speechly's domestic work, and as a New Zealand vicarage inspired by the nineteenth-century Ecclesiological movement. In conjunction with St Luke's Church it forms an important part of the local landscape.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The vicarage is illustrative of religious and social aspects of New Zealand history. It is believed to be the oldest Anglican vicarage in New Zealand in continuous use.


The vicarage is one of the best and least modified of the Ecclesiologically inspired vicarages in New Zealand. Sources for the design are the vicarages of English Gothic Revival architects such as William Butterfield and George Edmund Street. Their designs, in turn, are based on the late medieval tradition of vernacular building which was being rediscovered in nineteenth-century England and actively promoted by the Ecclesiological Society. Speechly and Crisp have taken such ideas and translated them into the local vernacular building material of wood. The vicarage therefore represents an important adaptation of the English domestic model to local New Zealand conditions.

The hoods are particularly characteristic of Speechly's style and occur often in his buildings even before his partnership with Crisp. St Luke's vicarage is the best preserved of the Speechly domestic designs and is an excellent example of his style.


The vicarage forms part of the streetscape but does not have landmark significance.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Speechley & Crisp

Robert Speechly (1840-84) trained as an architect in London and worked for several leading Gothic Revival architects including William Slater and Alfred Waterhouse.

In 1864 he was appointed resident architect to supervise the construction of the Christchurch Cathedral and he arrived in September of that year. However, lack of money halted construction shortly after the foundations were laid in late 1865. Speechly then used his four year contract in New Zealand by acting as architect to the Church Property Trustees, supervising all buildings undertaken by them. In this capacity he was involved with the design of a number of churches, houses and schools in the Canterbury settlement.

Speechly was assisted by William Fitzjohn Crisp who had arrived in New Zealand in 1861. He was Speechly's pupil until 1866 and his partner until May 1868. Buildings designed under the partnership name include Christ's College Chapel (1867), St Mary's Church, Merivale (1866), St Mary's Church, Addington (1867), St John's Parsonage (1866) and St Luke's Vicarage (1867-68).

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

At the time of its registration by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust Pouhere Taonga the St Luke's Vicarage was believed to be the oldest Anglican vicarage in New Zealand still functioning as such. It is now used as offices.

The vicarage was built as a residence for the vicar of St Lukes, the Reverend E.A. Lingard and his family. St Lukes had become a parish in 1867. Both Lingard and his successor Rev. W.W. Sedgewick were men of considerable standing and influence in the community and mixed socially with the elite landowning parishioners. The vicarage, large in scale and with servant's quarters, reflects the affluence of the parish.

Physical Description


The vicarage is a domestic Gothic building. It is symmetrical in composition with jutting bays, irregular roof-line and bold chimneys. The entrance is hooded as are most ground floor windows, matching the verandahs on that level. The windows are mullioned and transomed. Apart from the decorative diagonal boarding on the porch, there is little ornamentation. The vicarage achieves a picturesque effect through its outline and the contrasting dark hoods and roof against the white weatherboards and verandah posts.

In the formal entrance three metre high walls support a beamed and panelled ceiling of heavy stained timber. The entrance hall is separated from the hall proper by a large Gothic arch. The timber staircase leading to the upstairs rooms has a moulded handrail, which stops about halfway up the stair, to reappear at the top around the wide landing to function as a balustrade. The landing at the top of the stairs is unusually large with many rooms opening off it. The original servant bell-pulls still exist throughout the house.


c1870c Hood added over study window

c1880s North wing added

post 1909 Corrugated iron on roof

Notable Features

A prominent Ngai Tahu chief, Tautahi, was buried near the site of the present St Luke's Vicarage around the 1750s.

The hoods over the entrance and windows.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1867 - 1868

1870 -
Hood added to study window

North wing added

Post 1909 - Corrugated iron on roof

Construction Details

Weatherboard exterior; corrugated iron roof originally shingles; brick chimney.

Completion Date

18th October 2001

Report Written By

Melanie Lovell-Smith

Information Sources

Chalklen, 1985

Mollie Chalklen, 'The Church to the North of the River Avon' : S.Luke the Evangelist 125 Years of Praise and Thanksgiving, Christchurch, 1985

Hendry, 1968

J.A. Hendry (text) and A.J. Mair (drawings), Homes of the Pioneers, Christchurch, 1968.

Chalken, 1985

Mollie Chalklen, 'The Church to the North of the River Avon' : S.Luke the Evangelist 125 Years of Praise and Thanksgiving, Christchurch, 1985

Ian Lochhead, 'S. Luke's Church and Vicarage: An Architectural Note', in Mollie Chalklen, 'The Church to the North of the River Avon' : S.Luke the Evangelist 125 Years of Praise and Thanksgiving, Christchurch, 1985, pp.69-71, pp.70-71

MacDonald Biographies

G.R. MacDonald, Dictionary of Canterbury Biographies, Canterbury Museum, n.d.

University of Canterbury

University of Canterbury

Manuscript Papers 193

Weekly Press

Weekly Press

Photographs 20 October 1909

Church Quarterly Paper

The Church Quarterly Paper

Diocese of Christchurch, October 1864, Vol III, No 4

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.