St Mary's Church (Anglican)

Church Street And Sophia Street, Timaru

  • St Mary's Church (Anglican), Timaru. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Allison Bennet. Taken By: Allison Bennet – AllisonwonderlandNZ. Date: 4/08/2015.
  • St Mary's Church (Anglican), Timaru. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Shellie Evans . Taken By: Shellie Evans - flyingkiwigirl. Date: 2/12/2013.
  • St Mary's Church (Anglican), Timaru. CC Licence 3.0 Image courtesy of
    Copyright: jokertrekker - Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: jokertrekker. Date: 4/01/2012.
  • St Mary's Church (Anglican), Timaru. c.1910 with crowds of people and a motor car out the front. Ref: 1/1-008664-G. Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.
    Copyright: Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Taken By: Unknown.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 328 Date Entered 2nd April 1985


City/District Council

Timaru District


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Lots 323 325/6 DP 1 Pt Lot1 DP1739 Pt Lot 1 DP 8897


This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. The following text is the original citation considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

St Mary's Church (Anglican), Timaru

Constructed in 1880 on the site of the original church this fine work of Gothic architecture was designed by W B Armson, one of the leading colonial architects.

St Mary's was his last and most important ecclesiastical commission.

Only the broad aisled nave approximately 24 metres long and 17 metres wide was completed to Armson's design. The upper structure rests on six bays of graceful arches, each side rising from red granite columns.

Arnson died in 1883 and the church was completed by his successors Collins and Harman in 1910, a square tower and rectangular chancel being substituted for his original design. Built of dark grey basalt with dressings of limestone the masonry is laid in high quality ashlar work.

Of particular significance is the three light war memorial windows set in the south wall to commemorate the fallen of the two world wars. The porch at the western entrance was added in 1961 to match the existing masonry.

St Mary's Church makes a worthy townscape element in the heart of the city. Its splendid tower is one of Timaru's best known landmarks.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Armson, William Barnett

Armson (1832/3?-83) was born in England and emigrated to New Zealand with his family in around 1852. They shifted to Australia two years later and settled in Melbourne. Here Armson was articled to the architectural and civil engineering firm of Purchas and Swyer for a period of six years. He was trained in architecture, engineering and surveying.

Armson returned to New Zealand in 1862 during the Otago gold rushes. He was appointed architectural draughtsman in the Provincial Engineer's Department and was soon promoted to Assistant Architect. Made redundant in 1864, Armson practised in Dunedin before superiving construction of St Luke's Church at Oamaru in 1865.

Armson moved to Hokitika in 1866 and practised on his own account, designing a wide variety of buildings. These include bank branch offices in towns around the West Coast, and the Hokitika Town Hall (1869).

He moved to Christchurch in 1870 and it was here that he prospered as an architect. His buildings include the former Public Library (1875), the Bank of New Zealand, Lyttelton (1878), the Bank of New Zealand, Princes Street, Dunedin (1879), Christchurch Girls' High School (1880), St Mary's Church, Timaru (1880) as well as many shops and offices.

From 1870 until his death, Armson was unrivalled as a commercial architect in Christchurch. He was also known for his professionalism and in 1872 was one of the founding members of the Canterbury Association of Architects. The practice founded by Armson in 1870 continued as Collins Architects Limited.

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1880 -

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.