Ormond Chapel

55 Chaucer Road, Hospital Hill, Napier

  • Ormond Chapel. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Shellie Evans - flyingkiwigirl. Taken By: Shellie Evans - flyingkiwigirl. Date: 14/06/2013.
  • Ormond Chapel.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Helen McCracken. Date: 19/06/2002.
  • Ormond Chapel. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Shellie Evans - flyingkiwigirl. Taken By: Shellie Evans - flyingkiwigirl. Date: 14/06/2013.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 182 Date Entered 28th June 1990 Date of Effect 28th June 1990


City/District Council

Napier City


Hawke's Bay Region

Legal description

Pt Lot 29 DDP 718


This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993.The following text is the original citation considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration. Information in square brackets indicates modifications made after the paper was considered by the NZHPT Board.

The Ormond Chapel, one of the oldest buildings in Napier, was constructed in about 1869 as a schoolroom for the Napier Grammar School. It was shifted to its present site in 1919 and dedicated as a memorial to Alexander Ormond, a member of a notable Hawke's Bay settler family who died serving in World War I.

The first school in Napier was established in 1855 by William Marshall but this school only lasted three years before Marshall resigned and left the area. In the late 1860s Marshall, encouraged by the politician and later Superintendent of Hawke's Bay, John Davies Ormond (1831?-1917), and others, opened a new school, or academy for young gentlemen on a site on Napier Hill. In 1867 the school adopted the name of Napier Grammar School and two years later a large wooden schoolroom was built. The schoolroom was an unusual Neo-Gothic design. The exterior having buttresses terminating in pinnacles, while along the parapet miniature merlons simulated battlements.

In 1872 Marshall left for the ministry and the fortunes of the school waxed and waned and eventually the school was closed. The school buildings were taken over by a new school, also known as Napier Grammar. This school was acquired in 1900s by a Miss Thornton, a sister of John Thornton, headmaster of Te Aute College. Thornton opened the school to girls as well as boys, using the large schoolroom and some of the other buildings. The remaining school buildings were leased for private dwellings. In 1918, with the school buildings in need of repair, Thornton moved her pupils to a house. The grounds were bought by the Education Department for the site of the new Central School. The main school building was sold to Fanny Ormond, the daughter of John Davies Ormond. Ormond shifted the building to a portion of the family estate, and near the Napier hospital, where it was presented to the Cathedral Parish as a memorial to her nephew, Alexander Ormond, who had died in France in 1916. A bronze plaque was placed in the now chapel with the following inscription: "To the Glory of God and in ever loving memory of Alexander Ormond killed in action in France, 30th September, 1916." The dedication ceremony was performed by the Right Reverend W. Sedgewick, Bishop of the Diocese.

From 1918 the chapel played an important role in the religious life of the community. During the 1920s regular services were held in the chapel. Following the Hawke's Bay Earthquake of 1931 the chapel was used as a temporary hospital for patients who had been evacuated from the collapsed hospital building. In the mid 1930s a Sunday school was opened. To accommodate students a building, built from a bequest by Fanny Ormond (died 1953), was erected adjacent to the vestry. This school closed in 1962. Services in the main chapel were stopped [for a time in 1963 but were revived in August 1965]. Until the hospital closed, the chapel also provided a place of worship for nursing staff. Today the chapel is still used for regular services.

Over the years the chapel has acquired a number of memorials and fittings, donated by parishioners. These include an eagle lectern designed and carved by W. Lipsombe in 1923 and presented to the chapel in 1932, and the bell which once rang in the temporary cathedral before the construction of the present St John's Cathedral in Napier. To help the church the Jordan Trust was established by a Miss J. H. Jordan in memory of her brother Henry Edward Oswald Jordan. Miss Jordan also presented the chapel with a stained glass window depicting the Last Supper in memory of her parents who had worshipped at the chapel. The Ormond family also continued to support the church, helping with the payment for renovations in the mid 1970s.

The Ormond Chapel, Napier, is significant as one of the oldest buildings in Napier, and one of New Zealand's oldest surviving educational buildings. The Chapel is closely associated with the notable Hawke's Bay family, the Ormonds. Architecturally the building is an unusual gothic-style building. It is an unusual adaptation of an educational building to an ecclesiastical purpose.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Ormond Chapel is the result of the unusual adaptation of a secular building to an ecclesiastical use. It remains one of New Zealand's earliest extant educational buildings and is today a memorial to the grandson of one of the school's original benefactors.

This chapel is a small-scale but highly distinctive building. Its simple form is embellished by Gothic decoration, particularly in the unusual street elevation, which bellies the relative plainness of the rear of the building. Although somewhat modified the interior complements the exterior admirably. Ormond Chapel is a fine example in the New Zealand tradition of the adaptation of a simple colonial structure to a specific alternative use.


Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

Ormond Chapel is a small rectangular building (12.3 metres in length) with simple additions and a belfry on the rear facade. The church is Neo-Gothic in style derived mainly from the unusual treatment of the street devation. Buttresses terminate in pinnacles while along the parapet miniature merlons simulate battlements. Leadlights in lancet form embellish this side elevation while a recent stained glass window is located in the east end of the chapel. The interior has a match lined ceiling, diagonal matchlinings on walls, exposed trusses with trefoil and quatrefoil decorations. A feature of the chapel is an eagle lectern designed and carved by W. Lipscombe in 1923 and presented to the chapel in 1932.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1864 -

1919 -
Schoolroom, moved to present site and converted into chapel

1953 -
Room built next to vestry

1973 -
Sanctuary enlarged

1974 -
Building repiled, stained glass window installed

1975 -
Decayed kauri in walls replaced with heart rimu, six north windows replaced with coloured glass

1986 -
Six heart doors with clear leadlight panes replaced a solid door

Completion Date

29th November 2002

Report Written By

Helen McCracken/NZHPT

Information Sources

Burch, 1976

J. H. Burch,' Third Annual Report from the Ormond Chapel Committee and Guild', May 1976

Churchman, 1959

Churchman, 'Ormond Chapel', December 1959

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Mary Boyd, 'John Davies Ormond (1832?-1917)'

Hogg, 1975

L. G. Hogg, 'Ormond Chapel', October 1975

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.