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Historic Place Category 1
On west side of Christ's College quadrangle. Between Big School Library and School House.
Pt Res 25 Chch City
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 Hare Memorial Library was a later addition to the school and was built to commemorate the Reverend F.A. Hare, (?-1912) who had been appointed chaplain at Christ's College in 1877 and served at the school for 35 years. He was headmaster from 1889-1893, and was acting headmaster when he died in 1912. The Old Boys Association decided to commemorate Hare's contribution to the school by erecting a library, and they had raised over £2,000 towards the project by July 1913. Construction started two years later.
The Hare Memorial Library was designed by the noted Christchurch-born architect Cecil Wood (1878-1947) and was the first of several buildings he designed for the college. It replaced a block of corrugated iron classrooms and was designed to harmonise with the earlier Gothic Revival buildings of the school. The library brought more colour and liveliness to the quadrangle through the use of red, grey and cream stone. Wood's design for the library incorporated various historicist forms such as the Tudor oriel window and chimneys, and the asymmetry and gargoyles associated with the Gothic Revival. Entrance to the building is through a low Tudor doorway under the oriel window. The library building is joined to the adjacent School House (1909) by an arched entranceway. As with Wood's later dining hall for the College, the carving in wood and stone was undertaken by Frederick Gurnsey, the noted Christchurch carver, who was also responsible for the carvings on the Bridge of Remembrance in Christchurch.
While the Old Boys' Association wished to have the library on the ground floor, Wood instead followed the common English practice of having the library on the first floor. The interior of the library is panelled half-way up the wall, and has Tudor half-timbering on the upper portion of the end walls. It contains a large stone fireplace with a Latin inscription dedicated to Hare carved in it. Initially the building also housed classrooms and rooms for both masters and prefects. By 1958 the library had become too small for the school's needs and became used as a music room. Since 1967 it has been used as one of the history classrooms, and contains a collection of photographs illustrating the school's history.
The Hare Memorial Library forms an important part of Christ's College historic quadrangle. It was designed to harmonise with the existing buildings, yet Wood's incorporation of elements of the Tudor style brought a new visual element to the quadrangle, while retaining links to the English origins and traditions of the school. The Library building commemorates a long-serving and much appreciated staff member. Construction of this building marks the first collaboration between Wood and Gurnsey, a combination which subsequently produced further remarkable buildings such as the memorial dining hall at Christ's College. The building's completion consolidated Wood's reputation as an architect, and allowed him to move from the domestic work which had previously dominated his practice.
- Original Construction: 1915 (circa) - 1915 (circa)
- Don Hamilton, The Buildings of Christ's College 1850 - 1990, Christchurch, 1991,p.44
- Don Hamilton, College!: A history of Christ's College, Christchurch, 1996
- Ruth M. Helms, 'The architecture of Cecil Wood', PhD thesis, University of Canterbury, 1996,pp.117 - 121.
Plans held at Christ's College
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