St Michael and All Angels (Former)

8 Matau Street, Clyde

  • St Michael and All Angels (Former), Clyde.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Sarah Gallagher. Date: 2/12/2020.
  • St Michael and All Angels (Former), Clyde. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Shellie Evans. Taken By: Shellie Evans - flyingkiwigirl. Date: 8/05/2014.
  • St Michael and All Angels (Former), Clyde.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Sarah Gallagher. Date: 2/12/2020.
  • St Michael and All Angels (Former), Clyde.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Sarah Gallagher. Date: 2/12/2020.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2386 Date Entered 24th June 2005 Date of Effect 24th June 2005


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Secs 5-6 Blk I Town of Clyde (RT OT214/202), Otago Land District, and the building known as St Michael and All Angels (Former) thereon. Refer to the extent map provided in the 2005 List entry report (p.15).

City/District Council

Central Otago District


Otago Region

Legal description

Secs 5-6 Blk I Town of Clyde (RT OT214/202), Otago Land District


The history of the town of Clyde is intrinsically linked with the history of the discovery and mining of gold in Central Otago. The first post office building dates to the beginning of the town in 1863. Although it was officially named Clyde in 1864, the town was first known as Dunstan in the 1850s and as Hartley's township after his discovery of gold in 1862.

Gold mining began in Central Otago with Gabriel Read's discovery of gold in Gabriel's Gully, near present-day Lawrence, in 1861. The following year Hartley and Reilly left this gully and travelled further into Central Otago. They spent the winter prospecting in the now-flooded Clutha Gorge between present day Clyde and Cromwell, finding enough gold in the area to travel back to Dunedin and lodge 87 pounds with the Gold Receiver.

The 1862 discovery precipitated a rush to the area, with the first passenger-carrying coach travelling from Dunedin to Clyde in November of that year. Six weeks earlier, the first gold escort had left Clyde for Dunedin with packhorses. Subsequent gold escorts consisted of a solid covered wagon with armed guards. A ragged canvas town quickly sprang up, and by December of that year between six and seven thousand miners and settlers occupied Clyde and the surrounding areas. Sunday afternoons would see up to 4000 men congregate in the town. At Christmas 1862, 320 people sat down to dinner at one of the "innumerable" hotels, the cost of the meal being 10s 6d. While Clyde was itself the centre of mining activity in 1862, as gold was quickly discovered in other parts of Central Otago such as Arrowtown and Queenstown it was also the source of supplies for those travelling on to other areas.

A photograph dated c. 1862 shows a profile of canvas and wooden buildings along the terrace above the river where the town now stands, and a small collection of wooden structures on the lower beach . McCraw gives a date of 1865 for the same photograph, a more likely date given the number of structures and roads visible, and has annotated it with details of the infrastructure used to mine a seam of coal along the riverbank. By the late 1860s photographs show a row of single-storied wooden buildings running cheek-by-jowl along the main street, now known as Sunderland St . The buildings all feature flat-fronted facades with business signs, among them one named the Dunstan Hotel, and the Hartley Arms Hotel can be seen several doors along. These were just two of many hotels in the town.

Civic administrators, such as Commissioner Vincent Pyke, police representative Jackson Keddell, and Henry Stratford, gold receiver, who came to Clyde in 1862 after the announcement of the discovery of gold, were all ardent Anglicans in a predominantly Anglican community. They were all concerned to establish a building for worship, and first held prayer meetings in the courthouse. Pyke began fundraising for a church, giving lectures in the surrounding settlements at which he solicited for donations. Within a year the Episcopal Church Committee had purchased a large corrugated iron building, used as a store at Manuherikia. This was dismantled and re-erected on the site at Clyde in 1863, one of the earlier churches to be erected on the goldfields.

During the week after the opening of the church a public tea meeting was held to raise funds, the large number of ladies attending caused surprise as it was considered that there were few women on the goldfields. Annan reports that the crowd was so large that "the sumptuous feast had to be served in relays, as the building was quite inadequate. There were speeches, then music, then a humorous speech in prose and verse from Mr. Stratford, who also informed the people that the church would be free of debt in a few days." There was no ordained clergyman to hold services in this building, and no funds to pay one. Bishop Harper, Bishop of Christchurch, applied to England for an ordained clergyman for the goldfields, whose time was to be spent between Clyde and Queenstown. Prior to this the Bishop himself visited in 1864 and 1866 on his travels over his large, scattered diocese and at other times lay readers such as Stratford held services. Bishop George Selwyn also visited Clyde in February 1866. Clergy from Dunedin and Milton travelled to Clyde to hold services, and from September 1868 Vincent Pyke officiated regularly on Sundays.

In 1865 at a meeting of the committee of the Church of England a decision was made to replace this corrugated iron building with a wooden structure, known as a Union Church, to be used by all denominations allied to the Church of England but built by the Church of England. By 1866 the name was changed from the Union Church to the Church of England and other denominations had to negotiate for its use. The first vicar, Rev. Joshua Jones, who had arrived in 1871, left in 1875 and was replaced by Rev. John Dewe in January 1876. At the first vestry meeting held under Dewe's management, a decision was made to build a new church and a building committee was formed. The first load of stones arrived on the grounds in January 1877 at a cost of 3/-. Bishop Selwyn laid the foundation stone, and the building itself was completed within eight months and consecrated by the Dunedin Anglican Bishop Neville.

In 1962 a hall with a kitchen was added to the church complex and the porch of the 1865 church building was moved behind the hall to function as a shed. At the same time, the Clyde vicarage in Pyke St. was sold and a new vicarage built in Alexandra beside the Anglican St. Aidan's church.

In 1977, St Michael and All Angels celebrated its centennial. A new east window was erected in September 1991, and dedicated in December of that year, opening up the sanctuary to light. The archway was repaired in 1984. Many smaller repairs have been completed on the church buildings.

The Church remains the centre of Anglican worship in Clyde, and a focus on for the community.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The church possesses historical significance as it sits on the site of the first corrugated iron building, which was the first church built in Clyde and one of the earliest on the gold fields. This building and its wooden replacement, used as a "union" or inter-denominational church, demonstrate the importance of Christianity to those gold mining in Central Otago.

St Michael and All Angels has aesthetic significance. Its architectural style and materials combined with its park-like setting in large grounds with mature trees and surrounding stone walls, set at the edge of Clyde looking toward the Clutha River and the stark hills of the Old Man Range give it aesthetic significance.

This church, constructed from the schist that many of the early Clyde buildings are built from, demonstrates a traditional English church design using a local vernacular material. It is a fine example of the stone mason's craft. The interior woodwork is notable, including the arch-braced timber-lined ceiling. The windows are imported lancet-style English windows.

It is spiritually significant as the place of worship for the Clyde congregation since 1877.

St. Michael and All Angels Church represents historically the importance of religion in Central Otago's early gold mining years. The Anglican community in Clyde and Alexandra hold their church in esteem for this association, as the celebration of the church's centenary showed. While St Michael and All Angels church was completed in 1877, some fifteen or so years after the earliest of the still-standing historical buildings in Clyde, it does form part of the extant wider historical and cultural landscape, particularly with its schist construction material, used for many of Clyde's significant buildings.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Lawson, Robert Arthur

Born in Scotland, Lawson (1833-1902) began his professional career in Perth. At the age of 25 he moved to Melbourne and was engaged in goldmining and journalism before resuming architectural practice. In 1862 Lawson sailed for Dunedin, where his sketch plans had won the competition for the design of First Church. This was built 1867-73. Lawson went on to become one of the most important architects in New Zealand. First Church is regarded as his masterpiece and one of the finest nineteenth century churches in New Zealand.

He was also responsible for the design of the Trinity Church (now Fortune Theatre), Dunedin (1869-70), the East Taieri Presbyterian Church (1870), and Knox Church, Dunedin (1874). He designed Park's School (1864) and the ANZ Bank (originally Union Bank, 1874). In Oamaru he designed the Bank of Otago (later National Bank building, 1870) and the adjoining Bank of New South Wales (now Forrester Gallery, 1881).

See also: Ledgerwood, Norman, 2013. 'R.A. Lawson: Victorian Architect of Dunedin'. Historic Cemeteries Conservation NZ.

Holloway, John


McManus, Rees


Huston, Charles

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

St. Michaels and All Angels is built in a traditional English design. The interior has a timber arch-braced dark wood ceiling. The large east and west windows have geometrical decorations, and the smaller north and south windows are "early English lancet" design, imported from England in 1876, according to Annan. The altar is oak, and may have come from the earlier wooden church along with other furnishings.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1877 -
The stone wall at the front of the church was built for the earlier wooden structure. The other three sides were enclosed by cob, which has since been absorbed into the ground.

Construction Details

Local stone with corrugated iron roof.

Information Sources

Annan, 1977

N. Annan, Treasure from the Goldfields: St. Michael and All Angels Clyde 1862-1877, Parish of Dunstan, Clyde, 1977

Evans, 1968

J. Evans 1968 Southern See: The Anglican Diocese of Dunedin New Zealand, J. McIndoe, Dunedin

Gilkison, 1978

R. Gilkison, Early Days in Central Otago Whitcoulls, Christchurch, 1978

McCraw, 2003

J. McCraw, Gold on the Dunstan, Square One Press, Dunedin, 2003

Morris, 2002

J Morris and Tui Woods, St. Michael and All Angels 1978-2002, St Michael and All Angels, 2002

Veitch, 1976

B. Veitch, Clyde on the Dunstan, John McIndoe, Dunedin, 1976

Ledgerwood (2013)

Norman Ledgerwood, R.A. Lawson: Victorian Architect of Dunedin, Historic Cemeteries Conservation Trust of New Zealand, Dunedin, 2013

pp 142-3, 231, 237.

Other Information

A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Otago/Southland Area office

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.