St Michael and All Angels Church

Built in 1872 to replace an earlier church, St Michael and All Angels Church is one of the largest timber Gothic Revival churches in the Southern Hemisphere.

St Michael's Anglican Church, Christchurch
St Michael's Anglican Church, Christchurch. Contributor (ctb): Isabel Clemens. No known copyright

Anglican services were first held in a v-hut on the site of the current St Michael and All Angels Church in 1851. The first church in Christchurch was consecrated on the site in 1859. However, a decade later, it was recognised that a new church building was required.

The contract for the new church was started on 20 June 1871. On 13 March 1872 tenders were advertised for the removal of the old church.

The new church building was designed by William Fitzjohn Crisp. Following his return to Britain in 1871, Frederick Strouts became the supervising architect. The building was designed in a style described as ‘French pointed gothic of about the 14th century’. Built from matai, the church is considered one of the largest Gothic Revival churches constructed from timber in the Southern Hemisphere. The contractor for its construction was James Shoolbaird.

Insufficient funds meant that it was not possible to finish the building as it had originally been intended by the time it opened on 29 April 1872. In June 1872 a fund was started to raise money for the construction of a chancel. The chancel was not completed until 22 April 1875. The bell tower was never constructed, and instead the freestanding belfry, designed by Benjamin Mountfort (1861), remained.

In 1896 a secondary arch was removed to improve the view of the eastern window.

The church building and belfry survived the Canterbury earthquakes.