Historic Place Category 1
Pt Sec 20 and Sec 21 Blk VI Town of Dunedin (CT 456195), Otago Land District
Extent of Registration
Extent includes the land described as Pt Sec 20 and Sec 21 Blk VI Town of Dunedin (CT 456195), Otago Land District, and the building known as the St Matthew's Church (Anglican) thereon, and its fittings and fixtures.
By 1872 the population of the southern part of the city and towards Mornington had increased to a point where there were sufficient numbers to support a church to the south of St Pauls. Bishop Nevill convened a meeting on Christmas Eve 1872 at which it was decided to build a new church near the Market Reserve. Bishop Nevill chose a site higher up the hill on Stafford Street and the foundation stone was laid with full masonic honours 11 July 1873. The contractor, James Gore, built scaffolding to accommodate the spectators and a plan of the church was drawn in sand. The church debt was not paid off until 1901 and it was not consecrated until 1924. Around 1905 there was agitation to have the church declared the Cathedral since old St Pauls had lost its spire and looked insignificant by comparison. St Matthews was at the time the largest and noblest Anglican church in the city. The parish declined the suggestion and eventually the present St Pauls was built.
This is one of the most successful of Mason's ecclesiastical commissions, built just prior to retirement. It accords closely with accepted practice in England and the United States at the time, following reaction against French and Italian models. Mason subscribed to the journal 'Building News' where he would have seen drawings of English designs for such parish churches.
The church has become hemmed in by buildings such as the four storied Sew Hoy building next door, and so is less prominent that it was. It still remains an important building in the increasingly commercial area between Stafford and High Street.
Its well proportioned gables and spire and its unmodified nature.
Architectural Description (Style):
This adapted Gothic church is rather sombre in appearance because of the dark colours of the stone. Brown breccia was used where other buildings used white Oamaru stone but the rough finish of the breccia shows off its qualities much more effectively than in sawn blocks. The great end gables and the spire are simply finished and not lavished with extra pinnacles, though the plan is more elaborate than two previous Anglican churches of All Saints and old St Pauls. The tower is neatly buttressed and the spire rises smoothly with only dormer gables and no extra pinnacles or decorations.
The church was built in its entirety at once. The only addition to the structure is a small brick Sunday School room added right out of sight on the north east corner. Interior modifications have been minor, consisting of such things as the addition of oak chairs and reading desks, an oak table and the screens separating the transepts from the nave. The altar has been brought forward to accord with modern thinking of worship.
- Original Construction: 1874 (circa)
The walls are dark Leith Valley andesite with the corner quoins and door and window frames in a light brown, rough finished Port Chalmers breccia. The roof is slate. There are label moulds of Oamaru stone over doors and windows. The church is cruciform in plan with a well proportioned spire and tower at the south-west corner of the nave over the main entrance porch. Internally the nave has octagonal columns rising to pointed arches, a timber roof with simply decorated braces, single lancet windows on the aisles and triple lancets, the middle one taller than its neighbours, lighting the end of each transept and the west end. The clerestory above the aisles is lit by quatrefoil windows in circular openings. The interior woodwork is Kauri and Rimu.
- Frances Porter (ed), Historic Buildings of Dunedin, South Island, Methuen, Auckland, 1983.
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.
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