Remembering the churches of Christchurch

Much to the dismay of my devout Italian grandmother, I have long given up going to church.

However, I still love places of worship. For me, they are imbued with memories:  memories of happy times and sad times, beginnings and farewells.

And, whenever I enter a church, a temple or a mosque, I cannot help but feel that there is something special in the air, a certain sacredness that transcends the religious – as if the building itself retains a lingering awareness of the many prayers and hopes of those who have visited it.

So I have been really saddened by the fact that many of the churches in Christchurch have not fared well in the earthquakes.

Most of us are aware of the severe damage suffered by the iconic  Anglican and Catholic Cathedrals, but these unfortunately have not been the only casualties. My quick roll-call includes:

  • St Luke’s in  the City, on the corner of Manchester and Kilmore Streets;
  • Holy Trinity in Avonside;
  • Knox Church, on the corner of Victoria Street and Bealey Avenue;
  • the Sydenham Church, in Colombo Street;
  • St Mary and St Athanasious Coptic Church in Edgeware Road; and
  • the Union Parish Church and Holy Trinity Church in Lyttelton.

Holy Trinity Church, Avonside, in 1905Luckily the memory of many of these buildings lives on in the library:

And, even more luckily, many gems have survived, though admittedly some a tad battered.

My personal favourites are St Peter’s at Church Corner in Riccarton – a little island of peace surrounded by busy streets – and St Paul’s in Papanui, which was designed by B. W. Mountfort, and whose cemetery is home to a number of illustrious Cantabrians, including Robert Heaton Rhodes and Charles Upham, V.C.

Do you have a favourite church, or any other places of worship to add to my sad roll-call of earthquake casualties?

2 thoughts on “Remembering the churches of Christchurch

  1. Vanessaccl 18 October 2011 / 9:20 am

    Hello, thank you for reminding us about the beautiful Durham Street Methodist Church. I love the fact that your blog features a history of the church – I hadn’t realised it was the first stone church built on the Canterbury Plains. I have done a search in our catalogue and have been intrigued to find out that, as well as books and photos of the church, we hold some LPs of hymns and sacred songs by the Durham Street Methodist Church Choir. Great to know that some pieces of history are still with us.

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