Historic Place Category 1
Located on south side of Christ's College quadrangle.
Pt Res 25 (CT CB436/70), Canterbury Land District
Extent of Registration
Extent of registration is part of the land described as Pt Res 25 (CT CB436/70), Canterbury Land District and the building known as Christ’s College Chapel, thereon.
Christ's College began in April 1851, as the Collegiate Grammar School, run from two rooms at the immigration barracks at Lyttelton. The Canterbury Association, the group formed in England to colonise Canterbury, had planned for such a school before its ships left England, stating that it was to be based on 'the great Grammar Schools of England'. Christ's College is now the oldest and one of the most prestigious private boys' school in New Zealand.
In 1852 Collegiate Grammar moved to Christchurch and by 1857 was established on its current grounds adjacent to Hagley Park. The buildings of the school were laid out around a quadrangle following the English tradition.
The College Chapel was built in 1867 to a plan by Robert Speechly (1840-1884). Speechly arrived in Christchurch in 1864 having been appointed supervisory architect of the ChristChurch Cathedral. However, lack of money halted construction on the cathedral shortly after the foundations were laid in late 1865. Speechly then spent the remainder of his four-year contract in New Zealand acting as architect to the Anglican Church Property Trustees and supervising all buildings undertaken by them. As the Anglican Church architect, Speechly was a logical choice as the designer of the chapel for Christ's College, which had always been closely associated with the Anglican Church. The chapel he designed was built in stone and roofed in slate. Simple in style, it harmonised with the college's building known as 'Big School', built four years earlier.
In 1883 Benjamin Mountfort, the pre-eminent Victorian architect in Canterbury, was commissioned to extend the chapel by adding transepts and a chancel to the existing structure. Such an extension had been mooted by the college since 1878, but initially William Armson, another notable architect more generally remembered for his commercial buildings, was commissioned to extend the chapel. However, in 1882 the Christ's College Board of Governors decided to pay Armson off, rather than use his design, and the following year they accepted Mountfort's proposal. By 1884 the chapel had been enlarged considerably by the addition of the transepts and chancel. Four years later Mountfort also designed the organ chamber.
The chapel was extended again in the 1950s as the entire school had not been able to attend chapel together for many years. However plans for the chapel extensions became entangled with the debate over the college's proposed memorial to the dead of the Second World War; a debate which was finally resolved by the Attorney-General. Building finally began on the Chapel extensions, designed by local architect Paul Pascoe (1908-1976), in 1955. Pascoe's extensions more than doubled the size of the original chapel by extending it to the south, but left the appearance of the northern elevation of the Chapel very much as it was, and preserved the Gothic Revival nature of the quadrangle.
The chapel at Christ's College is an important part of the school's complex of buildings, which forms a significant part of the Gothic Revival townscape of Rolleston Avenue. The architecture of the chapel reflects the school's English origins and traditions, and demonstrates the skills of three well-known architects, Wood, Mountfort and Pascoe. It is a significant memorial to the former pupils and staff of Christ's College who fought in the Second World War and has a distinguished collection of stained glass windows.
Various stained glass windows commemorate former headmasters, chaplains and pupils. In a recess in the south nave wall is a stained glass window designed by John Piper and made by Patrick Reyntiens -one of only two to be found outside Britain. Piper and Reyntiens are considered among the best modern creators of stained glass in England. The 1968 window in the Christ's College Chapel commemorates Canon Ernest Courtney Crosse, headmaster and chaplain at the College from 1921 - 1930.
- Original Construction: 1867 (circa) - 1867 (circa)
- Addition: 1883 (circa) - 1884 (circa)
- Addition: 1888 (circa)
- Reconstruction: 1955 (circa) - 1957 (circa)
- Don Hamilton, The Buildings of Christ's College 1850 - 1990, Christchurch, 1991,pp.16 - 20.
- Don Hamilton, College!: A history of Christ's College, Christchurch, 1996
- Fiona Ciaran, Stained Glass Windows of Canterbury, New Zealand. A Catalogue Raisonne, Dunedin, 1998,pp.122 - 125.
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