Topic: St Barnabas Anglican Church, Fendalton, Christchurch

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St Barnabas is an Anglican Church in Fendalton, registered with Heritage New Zealand as a Category I heritage structure

Fendalton was originally part of the parish of Riccarton. In 1875 the Church people discussed the question of building a small chapel-of-ease atSt Barnabas 1Fendalton. The Hon. John Barton Dyke Acland, who lived at that time at “Willowbrook” on Fendalton Road, led them on with much zeal and enthusiasm.  Mr C C Bowen (afterwards Sir Charles C Bowen), had helped to secure a church reserve of nearly five acres of glebe land on Clyde Road, but as the greater part of the population lived some distance nearer to the present church, a suitable section of land for a church site, measuring 1 rood, 24 poles in area, was given by Mr. Daniel Inwood. Among the Fendalton pioneers are found the names of Inwood, Acland, Cuddon, Ellis, Mayo, Fereday, Latter, Jeffreys, Hanmer, Willcock, Bruce, Carleton and Fendall; the last-named family gave the name to the Parish, which was called Fendall-Town for a while, until it was afterwards contracted into the euphonious “Fendalton” of today. The building of the first St. Barnabas Church was begun in January 1876, and was ready for use four months later, when the Church was consecrated by the Primate, the Most Revd. Bishop Harper on Ascension Day (26 May).  A bell of 1½ cwts (made by Taylor at Loughborough), was given by the Hon. J B D Acland, and the communion vessels of silver (still in regular use) were given “for the service of St Barnabas Church, Fendalton, New Zealand, from the Brothers and Sisters of J B Acland, A.D.1876”. For a while, till this gift arrived, the communion vessels from the Church of the Holy Innocents, Mt Peel, were temporarily used at Fendalton. The bell-tower was a copy of the one originally planned for Holy Innocents. Mr Acland suggested the name St Barnabas for the new Church, and this was decided upon. The Incumbent of the Parish, the Revd Crossdale Bowen (afterwards Archdeacon of Christchurch) was away at the time for a two years visit to England, and the Revd Francis A Hare was temporarily priest-in-charge of Riccarton-cum-Fendalton.  Mr Acland (in a letter) records that a large and happy gathering assembled after the service for a luncheon party at “Willowbrook" where there was great joy at the completion of the Church.

From this time onward a service was held in St. Barnabas Church every Sunday. The life of the Church went on steadily for some years, the congregations were small, for of course the population was then but sparse. In 1883, however, as the settlement had grown, it was decided to enlarge the church, and the chancel, apse and transepts were added; this was done at a cost of $920.  The congregation increased, and there grew a wish on their part for independent existence as a Parish.  In 1883 Fendalton was constituted a separate Parish and the Revd T Jasper Smyth, who had just come out to New Zealand from the South of Ireland, was appointed priest in-charge of Fendalton till the first Vicar, the Revd Jeremiah Chaffers-Welsh, took up his duties early in 1884. The Revd. James West Stack (afterwards Canon Stack) became the second Vicar, and successfully carried on the work of the Parish for ten years.  During his ministry the Sunday School room in Clyde Road was built, chiefly through the efforts of Judge Gresson, Mrs T W N Beckett and Mr H W Bishop, Stipendiary Magistrate of Christchurch. The texts adorning the school walls were the work of Mr Alfred Cox of Merivale. Canon Hamilton, along with other members of the congregation, planted a 'peace oak' in 1919, at the east end of the 1876 church.

Plans to build a second church in permanent materials first took shape in 1903 when the Vestry acquired shares in the Christchurch Building Society in order to establish a fund for the construction of a new church. In 1918 the vicar, Canon T.A. Hamilton (1849-1937), suggested that the new church be erected as a memorial to the dead of the First World War. His suggestion was adopted and noted Christchurch-born architect, Cecil Wood, (1878-1947) was invited to draw up plans for a 'suitable village church' to cost around £20,000 (without the furnishings). Archbishop Julius was asked to place the foundation stone of the new Church a few days before he laid down the charge of the Diocese of Christchurch, which he had held for 35 years. On Sunday afternoon, 22 March 1925, in the presence of many clergy and a great gathering of over 800 people, the stone was laid. (Interestingly no children were present at the ceremony because of a nation-wide infantile paralysis epidemic.)  Mention was made at the ceremony that the church was to honour both the dead and the alive who had fought in World War I. One of the speakers, Mr K.M. Gresson, a returned serviceman, also stated that he was sure that the memorials being established throughout the Dominion would 'do much to restrain men from the hideousness of war' that is, it would have an educational function as well. The contract for the Church building was let to Messrs Peter Graham and Son for $19,622, (omitting the foundation of the Tower which was a separate contract of about $200).  In the following year, November 1926, the present Church was dedicated and consecrated, being free of debt, and representatives of the army were present at the consecration ceremony.

The church Wood had designed was long and low, built in stone from a local quarry, with facings of redstone and Oamaru stone. It is roofed in slate with a pattern of lighter coloured diamonds. The long plan, with a squat square tower over the main entrance, is similar to other of Wood's churches. In her thesis on Wood, Ruth Helms made the comparison between the long plan, the low stone walls, the massive timber roof, and the lack of differentiation between nave and chancel of St Barnabas with the English tradition of medieval tithe barns. Such barns were seen as pure examples of vernacular design by Arts and Crafts architects whom Wood was influenced by. He was not, however, committed to the tenents of the movement, choosing for example, jarrah and oak for St Barnabas rather than an indigenous timber. St Barnabas is set back from the road because the old timber church remained in situ and in use until after the new one was consecrated

Set back amongst trees which date from the 1870s, St Barnabas is the largest of Wood's Arts and Craft-influenced churches and its success led St Barnabas 2 to further commissions for him. With its carvings by Frederick Gurnsey St Barnabas is also a fine example of the combined work produced by these two men, first seen in the Hare Memorial Library at Christ's College. St Barnabas' English antecedents were appreciated by the congregation and, at the time of its opening, it was described as 'further enrich[ing] the heritage left by the Anglican founders of the province'.A carillon of eight bells was the gift of Mrs Murray-Aynsley and Mr G. Gerard. St Barnabas has a number of commemorative stained glass windows. The west window was donated by Kate Gerard to commemorative those Fendalton men who served in the First World War. It consists of four lights depicting, from left to right, Chivalry, Fortitude, Self-Sacrifice and Justice. The east window, depicting the Resurrection (a memorial of Mr T.W.N. Becket, a warden for 18 years) was transferred from the old church. The window frames in the main entrance were brought out by one of the first four ships and were part of the first church at Papanui. Some of the windows in St Barnabas were vandalised in a incident in February 1982. After they were repaired a further window was built from the leftover pieces of the smashed windows. This window also included a piece of glass from Westminster Abbey, which had been damaged in a bomb attack during the Second World War, and is estimated to be around 500 to 600 years old. These pieces of glass were auctioned off for charity and a parishioner of St Barnabas, who had purchased a piece, donated it to the church. The oak reredoes in the sanctuary and the statue of St Barnabas in the niche above the main entrance were both carved by Frederick Gurnsey, the noted Christchurch sculptor. The central panel of the redoes contains a carved relief of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Last Supper'. Gurnsey also carved the roll of honour. A pipe organ, built by Hill, Norman & Beard, was installed in 1929, being rebuilt in 1958 by George Croft & Sons and by the South Island Organ Company in 1978.

St Barnabas is significant as one of the few churches erected in New Zealand as a war memorial. While church communities were one of the likely to erect memorials to the dead, it was far more common to have memorials erected within existing churches, than to have the church itself built as a memorial. Maclean and Phillips, in their book on New Zealand's war memorials argue that the number of World War I church memorials reflect both the importance of religion to New Zealanders at the time and 'the close involvement of the church in encouraging and supporting the war effort'.

Despite the economic depression of the early thirties, the Vestry set about collecting for the present Parish Hall.  The main block was opened in 1941 with the East wing added in 1951. During this period that part of the parish now known as Bryndwr was developed and services were begun in St Aidan’s, Bryndwr. In November 1957 Bryndwr became a separate parish with the new church of St Aidan’s, a gift from the Mother Parish of Fendalton. In 1959 the present Vicarage in Makora Street was built. In February 1999 the exterior of the church was unlit at night when the floodlights from the front of the church were stolen. In October 2001 an interdenominational service was held at St Barnabas to mark the 150th anniversary of Fendalton and two commemorative bronze plaques were placed on a large triangular rock in the grounds. The plaques acknowledge the large part Walpole and Lucy Fendall played in the establishment of the area. The widening of Fendalton Road in 2004 led to the demolition of the old vicarage on the corner of Tui Street and the creation of a carpark. A winding boardwalk within the grounds allowed for the retention of the memorial stone wall and protection of the roots of the heritage trees. Also in 2004 the interior of the church, mainly in the chancel area, was altered despite the strong opposition of some parishioners.

In the February 2011 earthquake St Barnabas was significantly damaged. Because the bell tower moved relative to the rest of the building there was considerable damage to the north walls as well as to the east and west gable ends. Many stained glass windows were also damaged. In spite of the insurance cover the parish had, there was a shortfall as a result of the policy excess, costs involved in strengthening the building to 67% of the new building standard, other compliance costs and  the need to undertake building maintenance at the same time. Because of the need to raise funds for this work, Vestry formed the St Barnabas Fendalton Trust so that donations received for this work could be protected. They wanted to restore the beautiful, historic church for the community and for future generations. The restored church was reopened by the Bishop of Christchurch, Victoria Matthews, on 19 February 2017.

One hundred and forty years on, St Barnabas continues to be a diverse Anglican Church, welcoming newcomers and helping them to feel at home. The Christchurch City Council’s Fendalton community profile, November 2014 says of St Barnabas: "The key provider of community services and activities in this area is St Barnabas Anglican Church, which provides a variety of programmes, including specific activities aimed at isolated older adults …. In terms of community support programmes, St Barnabas Anglican Church provides a variety of activities, including a number of programmes for young people and a strong visiting service and range of activities for older adults, particularly those who are vulnerable and isolated. The church played a key role in supporting other areas of Christchurch that were more affected by the February 2011 earthquake. St Barnabas also has an active youth community and employ a Youth Coordinator (partly funded by the Fendalton–Waimairi Community Board) to oversee and develop youth activities. They have also recently employed a youth worker to work at Christchurch Boys’ High School as part of the “24/7 Youth Work” programme. Through the Council's Capital Endowment Fund, the Community Board recently accessed funding for the purchase of a mini-bus for local community groups to use for their activities. St Barnabas Anglican Church received the funding and has purchased the mini-bus."  In addition to five Sunday services the parish has groups for children, youth, young adults and older people. There are support programmes for refugees, high school students, parents and caregivers, those needing a mentor and those needing food or school uniforms for their children. There are also prayer groups, music groups, Bible study groups and discipleship groups for men and women. The vision is: Following Jesus and extending God’s love.


Jeremiah Chaffers-Welsh, 1884-1888

James West Stack,1888-1898

Thomas Albert Hamilton, 1898-1919

Hugh Stanley Leach, 1919-1929

Frederick Burton Redgrave, 1929-1946

Alban Charles Theodore Purchas, 1947-1951

Lewis Agassiz Barnes, 1951-1960

Michael Leeke Underhill, 1961-1966

Robert Arthur Lowe, 1966-1986

Craufurd Murray, 1987-2000

John Day, 2001-2009

Mark Chamberlain, 2010-


St Barnabas Anglican, Fendalton

St Barnabas Church (Anglican) 

A potted history of the Fendalton Church

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Michael Blain, Blain biographical directory of Anglican clergy in the South Pacific. Christchurch, N.Z.: Project Canterbury, 199-

General news: Press, volume LXII, issue 18735, 5 July 1926, page 8

A noble edifice: Press, Volume LXII, issue 18855, 22 November 1926, page 11

St Barnabas’ Anglican Church, Fendalton, Christchurch. Christchurch, N.Z. : Canterbury University Press, 2002

Doreen Warren and Fanny Buss, Some Canterbury churches. Christchurch, N.Z.: Pegasus Press, 1957, 48

St. Barnabas Anglican, Fendalton, Christchurch: organ

Chris Maclean and Jock Phillips, The sorrow and pride: New Zealand war memorials. Wellington, N.Z.: Historical Branch ; GP Books, 1990, 83

Fendalton church left in the dark

Christchurch city scene September 2001: Fendalton celebrates

St. Barnabas Anglican Church of Fendalton (YouTube video, 2008) 

Derek Hamilton and Judith Hamilton, Early churches in and around Christchurch. Christchurch, N.Z.: J. and D. Hamilton, 2008, 50

Community profile – November 2014: Fendalton

St Barnabas Fendalton : Church reopening 2017 (YouTube video, 2017)

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St Barnabas Anglican Church, Fendalton, Christchurch

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