All Saints' Church (Anglican)

Church Street And The Square, Palmerston North

  • All Saints' Church (Anglican), Palmerston North. CC BY-SA 4.0 Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Michal Klajban - Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Michal Klajban. Date: 6/10/2014.
  • All Saints' Church (Anglican), Palmerston North. Interior 2012. Image courtesy of Helen Smith Evenstar Photography.
    Copyright: Helen Smith. Taken By: Helen Smith.
  • All Saints' Church (Anglican), Palmerston North. Font and stained glass windows 2012. Image courtesy of Helen Smith Evenstar Photography.
    Copyright: Helen Smith. Taken By: Helen Smith.
  • All Saints' Church (Anglican), Palmerston North. CC BY-SA 3.0 Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Schwede66 - Wikimedia Commons . Taken By: Schwede66. Date: 28/01/2014.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 191 Date Entered 16th November 1989 Date of Effect 16th November 1989


City/District Council

Palmerston North City


Horizons (Manawatū-Whanganui) Region

Legal description

Pt Sec 838 Township of Palmerston North (RT WN 497/137) Wellington Land District


Designed in brick by eminent New Zealand architect Frederick de Jersey Clere (1856-1952), All Saints' Church in Palmerston North has served as a centre for the Anglican community since 1914.

The Church was the third Anglican church to be built on section 838, Palmerston North. In 1875, three years after the first Anglican service in Palmerston North was held in a sawmill, Bishop Octavius Hadfield (1814-1904) purchased the bush-covered section for use by the Anglican Church. That same year, the foundation stone for the first church, a simple wooden structure, had been laid. The arrival of full-time vicar Reverend John Lloyd Keating boosted attendance and by 1882 the original church had been incorporated into a more substantial timber structure. Twice enlarged to accommodate the growing Anglican population, by 1904 the building required substantial maintenance and the parish agreed that a new building was necessary.

In 1905, determined that the parish should have 'a brick church really worthy of being the House of God', Archdeacon C. Coleridge Harper commissioned the architect of the Anglican diocese Frederick de Jersey Clere to complete plans for a new church. Clere's initial design for the brick church was rejected. It provided less seating than required and incorporated elements better suited to a timber church. Yet the desire for a new church remained and in 1910 the site was prepared for the new building by moving the timber church to the rear of the property. In 1913, amid growing concern that the nearby Grand Hotel (1906) overshadowed the church, Clere was commissioned to complete a new design for the building.

Clere's revised design for All Saint's church reflects his skilful adaptation of European architectural styles to suit New Zealand conditions. The Church was designed in the English Gothic style and emphasised its solid brickwork construction. Reputedly made from 365,000 red bricks arranged in the strong, English bond pattern, the Church exterior featured four arched openings that incorporate elements of the Perpendicular Gothic style. The Church was based on a rectangular plan and dominated on its west elevation by a rectangular tower that soared above the Grand Hotel building opposite. The symmetrically designed interior allowed seating for up to 950 people and incorporated a small chapel and baptistry. Regularly placed arches of Jarrah supported the roof frame. The parish accepted Clere's design and builder John Henry Meyer began construction on the new All Saints' building in February 1913.

Funds were raised by encouraging parishioners to 'purchase a brick for shilling', and by 1914 the Church was completed at the cost of £7,800. It was consecrated two years later in 1916. Since its opening, All Saints' Church has played an important role in the Palmerston North community. It has served as the centre of Anglican faith for the community and its parish has responded to social needs with the institution of various clubs and societies. This role is physically represented in the Church by features such as the Great East Window, a memorial to those who died in the First World War, and the Scout and Guide Corner, which includes a memorial lamp to those whose died in the Tangiwai disaster in 1953. The building remains in close to its original state and is in excellent condition.

All Saints' Anglican Church has strong, spiritual significance as a long-standing place of worship and is a continuing symbol of the strength of the Anglican faith in the Diocese. It is historically noteworthy for its association with the establishment of the Anglican church in the area and is enhanced by its relationship with the original church buildings located at the rear of the section. The building has architectural importance as an example of the work of the eminent New Zealand architect, Frederick de Jersey Clere. The building provides insight into Clere's skills as an architect and exhibits his ability to design in brick. The structure has considerable aesthetic appeal and its spire is a landmark in the flat, urban area of Palmerston North.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

All Saints continues an ecclesiastical presence on the centre of the city of Palmerston North dating from the erection of the first Church on the site in 1875.

This is the third church to occupy this site. The second wooden church is now located at the back of the property and is used as a hall. All Saints has been the sponsor of numerous organisations within the community, in particular, the Ladies Guild, and the Scout and Guide movements, to whom a corner of the church is dedicated.


All Saints Church is a splendid example of the High Victorian Gothic principle of honesty in construction. The brickwork, which is among the finest in New Zealand, is not disguised; neither are the interior wooden roof supports. The overall style of the church illustrates Clere's free interpretation of Gothic Revival architecture.


The church has a pivotal importance in the Square townscape and with its dark red colour and prominent tower makes a striking visual impression. In earlier times it was a more prominent landmark.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Clere, Frederick De Jersey

Clere (1856-1952) was born in Lancashire, the son of an Anglican clergyman, and was articled to Edmund Scott, an ecclesiastical architect of Brighton. He then became chief assistant to R J Withers, a London architect. Clere came to New Zealand in 1877, practising first in Feilding and then in Wanganui. He later came to Wellington and practised there for 58 years.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1886 and held office for 50 years as one of four honorary secretaries in the Empire. In 1883 he was appointed Diocesan Architect of the Anglican Church; he designed more than 100 churches while he held this position. Clere was a pioneer in reinforced concrete construction; the outstanding example of his work with this material is the Church of St Mary of the Angels (1922), Wellington.

As well as being pre-eminent in church design, Clere was responsible for many domestic and commercial buildings including Wellington's Harbour Board Offices and Bond Store (1891) and Overton in Marton. Clere was also involved in the design of large woolsheds in Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa.

He was active in the formation of the New Zealand Institute of Architects and served on their council for many years. He was a member of the Wellington City Council until 1895, and from 1900 a member of the Wellington Diocesan Synod and the General Synod. He was also a member of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts.

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description


All Saints is designed in the Gothic Revival style. Buttresses strengthen the nave portion. The roof is supported on arches of jarrah timber. Hood moulds cover the windows and doorways, both internally and externally, resting on the voussoirs of the arches. External decoration of the brick church is moderate, but inside the fine brickwork, the kauri panelling and ornamentation, and the vibrant colours of the stained-glass windows convey the more exuberant ecclesiastical style of the Victorian Gothic Revival.

Notable Features

The Great East Window installed as a memorial to those who died in the First World War (1924)

Altar carved from Oamaru stone by Frank Guernsey (1939)

Reredos of heart kauri carved by Frank Guernsey (1944)

The Church organ, installed in 1929

Construction Dates

1913 -

Original Construction
1913 - 1914

1924 -
Great East Window fitted in stained glass

1929 -
New organ installed

1939 -
Wooden altar removed and replaced with a stone altar

1944 -
Kauri reredos placed in church to strengthen the back walls

1949 -
Kauri choir stalls installed

1953 -
Kauri pulpit installed

1958 -
Kauri panelling continued around walls of the sanctuary; church re-roofed in copper; surround sound system installed

1970 -
Kauri screen erected between chapel and chancel

2001 -
Wheelchair ramp erected to provide access to the front door on the west elevation of the church

Construction Details

Constructed from brick, jarrah internal columns; trussed roof sheathed in welded copper.

Completion Date

1st May 2003

Report Written By

Rebecca O'Brien

Information Sources

Dent, 1928

G. Dent, A Short History of the Parochial District of All Saints, Palmerston North, New Zealand, London, 1928

Dixon, 1978

Roger Dixon & Stefan Muthesius, 'Victorian Architecture', London, 1978

Wigglesworth, 1975

R. Wigglesworth, Never Ending, Still Beginning, Palmerston North

King, 1975

B. King, A Thing of Beauty; Parish Church of All Saints, Palmerston North, Palmerston North, 1975

Larcomb, 1950

P. Larcomb, All Saints' Church, Palmerston North 1875-1950, Palmerston North, 1950

Stacpoole, 1976

John Stacpoole, Colonial Architecture in New Zealand, Wellington, 1976

Wellington, 1964

H. Wellington, Jubilee, 1914-1964, All Saints' Church, Palmerston North, Palmerston North, 1964

Other Information

A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Central Region office

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.