Venerable Bede Church (Anglican)

34 Stout Street, Shannon

  • Venerable Bede Church (Anglican), Shannon. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Paul Le Roy. Taken By: Paul Le Roy – Minicooperd. Date: 8/01/2019.
  • Venerable Bede Church (Anglican), Shannon. Church Hall on the right.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Robert McLean. Date: 6/11/2009.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4072 Date Entered 5th September 1985


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Lots 217-218 DP 368 (CT WN253/180), Wellington Land District, and the building known as Venerable Bede Church (Anglican) thereon. Refer to the extent map tabled at the Rarangi Korero Committee meeting on 9 March 2017.

City/District Council

Horowhenua District


Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region

Legal description

Lots 217-218 DP 368 (CT WN253/180), Wellington Land District


Constructed in 1898, the Venerable Bede Church is a key component of an Anglican church complex in Shannon, whose present form was realised over the course of the twentieth century. Though altered and moved from its original site to a section adjacent to the 1919 parish hall, the church building remains a discernible example of work by celebrated and prolific architect, Frederick de Jersey Clere. It also has social, historical, commemorative and spiritual significance for its history of use as the site for spiritual contemplation, worship, and major life events such as the weddings, christenings, funerals and memorials of generations of Shannon parishioners.

Shannon was one of a string of towns founded along the Wellington and Manawatu Railway line, completed in 1886. When the first land sales occurred in Shannon the following year the Anglican church had only been formally operating in the area since 1882, from a parochial centre at Bulls-Sanson. At the time that the Venerable Bede Church was constructed, the parochial district that included Shannon was being operated out of Foxton and services in Shannon were being held in the Odd Fellows Hall.

An article reporting on the laying of the foundation on 8 March 1898, noted: ‘considerable difficulty has been experienced in raising sufficient funds to justify the commencement of the building.’ Difficulties were not limited to economics; the process of arriving at a suitable design with Frederick de Jersey Clere, the diocesan architect, was also fraught. In August 1897, the architecture firm of Clere, FitzGerald & Richmond explained to the Diocesan Board of Trustees that the plan submitted for architectural review, presumably obtained elsewhere, was ‘so far from being complete that we are unable to furnish you any report on the subject.’ The subsequent drawings were apparently more complete, yet harshly dismissed: ‘you will relieve us of any responsibility in connection with the design should the building be erected.’

In early January, the architects forwarded plans and specifications to the building committee in Shannon based on those devised by Clere four years earlier for St. Andrew’s, Manakau. E. J. S. Spencer and A. R. Spencer, operating as Spencer Brothers, constructed the church. It was dedicated on 19 May 1898 and described as ‘built very much on the same plan as that at Manakau, from a design of Mr. Clere’s.’ At Shannon, Clere replicated St. Andrew’s with ‘one or two slight alterations.’ The overall form and detailing remained the same—a three-part composition of entrance porch, three-bay nave, and extruded chancel; the exterior ‘alterations’ seem to be limited to a more enclosed entrance porch and a variant design for the belfry.

Venerable Bede was constructed on a residential block of Bryce Street across the railway line from Shannon’s commercial centre. This part of the community never developed intensively. In early 1949, Venerable Bede Church was moved to its present location on Stout Street, adjacent to the church hall constructed in 1919. The church has been periodically altered: most notably, an added porch (1962), possibly the one facing the street at the chancel; a new tripartite lancet window in the chancel or ‘east’ end wall (1964), and an extension, most likely the large one at the entrance or ‘west’ end of the church (1981). A lychgate was added to the complex in 1953, donated by a Mrs Hyde in memory of her husband, and the church also contains memorial plaques, pews and the east window. A vicarage was built to the rear of the church and hall in 1965. Services continue to be regularly held at the church (2017).


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Clere, Fitzgerald and Richmond

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Spencer Brothers

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1898 -

1949 -
Moved to present location next to church hall

Additional building added to site
1953 -
Lychgate added along Stout Street

1962 -
New porch

New pews installed

1964 -
New tripartite window at east end

1981 -

Completion Date

12th January 2017

Report Written By

James A. Jacobs

Information Sources

Maclean, 2003

S. Mclean, Architect of the Angels; the churches of Frederick de Jersey Clere, Wellington, 2003

Walton, 1973

J. W. (John William) Walton, ‘Parochial District of Shannon, 75th Jubilee, 1898–1973, Venerable Bede’s Shannon, Diocese of Wellington, New Zealand,’ 1973.

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.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Central Region Office of Heritage New Zealand.