Historic Place Category 2
Lot 1 DP 90833 (CT WN57D/911), Wellington Land District
Extent of Registration
Extent of registration is part of the land described as Lot 1 DP 90833 (CT WN57D/911), Wellington Land District, and the building known as Batley Memorial Chapel thereon, and its fittings and fixtures, and a reasonable curtilage including the associated cemetery.
The Batley Memorial Chapel, Moawhango, was built in 1902 to commemorate the eldest daughter of Robert and Emily Batley. Today the chapel contains memorial plaques to at least thirteen members of the Batley family, and the graveyard is the resting place of ‘The King of Moawhango’, Robert Batley.
Robert Thompson Batley arrived in New Zealand aged 14, and after some years working on sheep stations in the Hawke’s Bay area and managing the nearby Erewhon Station at inland Patea in the Rangitkei district, he settled in Moawhango in 1882 with his wife. Batley supplemented his extensive sheep running and wool exporting interests with the construction of a store, school, post office, gaol and accommodation rooms, among other buildings in the township. A photo from c.1900-1910 shows part of the extensive complex of buildings on Batley’s estate, including a large family homestead which had grown from the original 1880s cottage. He assisted the local Ngati Whiti community with the establishment of a flourmill at Tikirere, and with their representation at the Native Land Court case to establish their ownership of land in the district. For this he was adopted by them as ‘Papa Patere.’ His influence in the settlement also earned him the name ‘King of Moawhango,’ and in 1904 he was described as ‘the accepted father of the whole district’.
Robert and Emily had ten children, but were struck by tragedy in 1899 when their eldest, Nellie, drowned at Port Chalmers. In her memory, the Batleys constructed a small chapel in the grounds of their homestead. Alfred Atkins designed the Gothic Revival style building, and Russell & Bignell of Wanganui were the builders of the red brick and concrete structure, which was described as ‘the only church building of this material in the diocese.’ The interior was plastered to complement the matai flooring and chamfered rimu roof framing. A carved reredos, made by a Mr Dewson, is a feature of special note.
Within a few years of the chapel’s opening, one of the Batley’s sons also tragically drowned. Robert Thompson Batley died in 1917 and Emily in 1927, and both were buried in the family plot to the rear of the chapel. Today the chapel contains memorial plaques to many members of the Batley family, and the chapel is the venue for family services and is also used by the local Anglican community.
The Batley Memorial Chapel is of historic, social and architectural heritage significance, for its direct link with pioneer Robert Thompson Batley and his family, who had a lasting influence on the district. The Chapel is part of a collection of estate buildings which duplicate the English gentry’s provision of religious, educational and social buildings on their estate for their families and retainers.
Batley Memorial Chapel commemorates thirteen deceased members of the Batley family and has been in that family for four generations, covering a period of 88 years. The chapel is part of a collection of estate buildings which duplicate the English gentry's traditional provision of religious, educational and social buildings on their estates for their families and retainers.
A long established and well known farming family, the Batleys, through marriage, have also had a close association with the Chambers family of Hawkes Bay and with one of New Zealand's pre-eminent architects, William Gummer.
Part of a complex of buildings on the Batley Estate, including a gaol, store, schoolhouse and homestead, the Batley Memorial Chapel is a fine example of a small ecclesiastical building in a simple Gothic Revival style. With its apsidal chancel and gabled porch, the chapel is as pleasing, proportioned design. On its completion in 1902, it was said to be the only church building constructed of brick and concrete in the Diocese of Wellington.
Unfortunately the development of the public road through the Batley Estate at Moawhango has resulted in the group of buildings being bisected and hence the chapel appears somewhat isolated.
Cast iron finials
- Original Construction: 1902 (circa)
Concrete foundations; walls of locally made bricks (320mm thick). Timber framed roof clad with galvanised corrugated iron.
- North and South Magazine,Pat Booth, 'The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Memories of Moawhango', December 1986, pp. 57-65
- Douglas D R Cresswell. Early New Zealand Families Second Series, Whitcombe and Tombs Ltd, 1956,pp56-64
- Journal of the Whanganui Historical Society Inc.,Vol 19, No. 1, May 1988, pp. 18-19
- The Church Chronicle,May 1902, pp69-71
- Cyclopedia Company, Industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations, Wellington, N.Z, 1897-1908, Vol.1, Wellington, 1897,'Moawhango'
A fully referenced Upgrade Report is available from the Central Region office of NZHPT.
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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