Church of St Saviour

17 Winchester Street, LYTTELTON

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The relocated Church of St Saviour (1885), 17 Winchester Street, Lyttelton, incorporating salvaged architectural elements of the quake-demolished Holy Trinity Church (1859-60) that was formerly at this site, tells a remarkable story of ecclesiastical heritage survival and improvisation following the total loss of Lyttelton’s historic churches in the 2010-11 Canterbury earthquakes. Within two years of the establishment of the township of Lyttelton by the Canterbury Association in 1850, the first Holy Trinity Church, an ambitious timber building designed by architect Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort, was constructed at 17 Winchester Street in Lyttelton. Soon proving to be unsafe in high winds, this Anglican church was dismantled within only a few years but many of its timbers were recycled for interior use in architect George Mallinson’s replacement stone Holy Trinity Church, constructed on the same site in 1859-60. In nearby Dampier’s Bay (West Lyttelton), the Church of St Saviour was constructed of timber in 1885 to the design of architect Cyril Julian Mountfort, son of Benjamin Mountfort. Its construction came about through an endowment provided by former Holy Trinity Church vicar (1851-9), Benjamin Woolley Dudley, combined with Bishop Henry John Chitty Harper’s determination to provide services and pastoral care for visiting seamen. The Church of St Saviour welcomed the companies of visiting warships who often paraded, accompanied by marine bands, to the West Lyttelton church. The church is also reputed to have had Antarctic connections, notably in the early twentieth century with Captain Robert Falcon Scott and the crews of the Discovery and Terra Nova. In 1975-76, as a result of a dwindling congregation, the Church of St Saviour was cut into pieces and relocated to Christchurch where it was used as the chapel of Cathedral Grammar School for nearly 40 years until the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010-11. The earthquakes caused the loss of many churches throughout the district and Lyttelton was hit particularly hard in February and June 2011 when all three of its historic stone churches on Winchester Street, including Holy Trinity Church, were irrevocably damaged. The Church of St Saviour, in its relocated site in Christchurch, suffered comparatively minor damage and in 2013 it was cut into pieces and brought back to Lyttelton, this time to the site formerly occupied by Holy Trinity Church. Now known colloquially and locally as St Saviour’s at Holy Trinity, the Church of St Saviour retains its Early English Gothic Revival style and construction of simple board and batten timber, with a steep pitched roof and narrow lancet windows. The main structure is largely that of the relocated Church of St Saviour, though on its Winchester Street site it has been turned around on its axis so that what was originally the sanctuary is now the nave at the west end. Entrance to this is through the gabled timber porch salvaged from Holy Trinity Church, this being connected to the relocated St Saviour’s portion by a modern glazed link. Another notable architectural element saved from the former Anglican church on the site is the William Butterfield-designed stained glass window in the sanctuary.

Church of St Saviour, Lyttelton | Robyn Burgess | 07/06/2016 | Heritage New Zealand
Church of St Saviour, Lyttelton. North and west elevations of the original Church of St Saviour and glazed link to the extant porch from Holy Trinity Church. Image courtesy of | Shellie Evans – flyingkiwigirl | 29/06/2017 | Shellie Evans
Church of St Saviour, Lyttelton. Detail east end of sanctuary showing William Butterfield-designed stained glass window | Robyn Burgess | 07/06/2016 | Heritage New Zealand



List Entry Information


Detailed List Entry



List Entry Status

Historic Place Category 1


Private/No Public Access

List Number


Date Entered

6th June 2005

Date of Effect

5th May 2017

City/District Council

Christchurch City


Canterbury Region

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Res 28 Town of Lyttelton (RT CB398/245), Canterbury Land District, the building known as the Church of St Saviour. The Belfry, yet to be re-erected, is included in the extent. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the List entry report for further information).

Legal description

Res 28 Town of Lyttelton (RT CB398/245), Canterbury Land District

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