Trinity Congregational Church

The Trinity Congregational Church, built in 1875, is situated at 124 Worcester Street.

State Trinity Centre
State Trinity Centre. © Christchurch Star

In 1864 the Trinity Congregational Church purchased a site on the corner of Worcester Street and Manchester Street which had formerly belonged to Lord Lyttelton. A schoolroom which also served as a temporary church opened on the site.

Although the architect Samuel Farr was a deacon in the church, there was a sense of uncertainty about the integrity of his buildings after a report on the Town Hall revealed it had been poorly built. Instead, a design proposed by architect Benjamin Mountfort was selected.

In terms of its external appearance, the building conformed to the Gothic Revival style of architecture. Built from brick, the church featured a fifty two feet high rectangular tower with lancet windows. On the northern façade, beneath the gabled roof, was a rose window.

However, Mountfort’s plan departed from the standard layout for a chapel. Rather than adhering to a traditional cruciform footprint, the transepts were shortened, forming an octagonal layout.

The church was entered from Worcester Street, with the main door leading into a vestibule to the east of which was a tower. The vestibule opened into the nave, which was overlooked by a gallery floor accessible via a staircase in the tower. At the southern end was the pulpit and behind this was a semi-circular vestry which featured an upper floor.

The foundation stone was laid by the Provincial Superintendent, William Rolleston, in a ceremony held on 6 November 1873. The church was opened on 17 January 1875.

A church hall and schoolroom was erected on the property to the south of the church in 1913.

The church became the site of the Pacific Islanders’ Congregation Church in the 1960s. In 1968 the Trinity congregation merged with the Pacific Islanders’ congregation to form the Trinity Pacific Congregational Church.  

In 1969 the congregation combined with the congregation of St Paul’s Church on Madras Street to become St Paul’s Trinity-Pacific Presbyterian Church. Following the relocation of the congregation to St Paul’s Church, the congregational church building was advertised for sale in 1973. To assist with the preservation of the building, the Trinity Church Preservation Steering Committee was formed in 1974. The State Insurance Office purchased the building in 1975.

Following conversions done by Collins Hunt and Loveridge the building became the State Trinity Theatre. The conversion was reversed in 1993 when the building was purchased by AWB New Zealand Limited to become a wedding venue.

In 2006 the building was adapted to become a restaurant, the Octagon.

The building suffered structural damage as a result of the September 2010 earthquake. Further damage, including the collapse of the tower, occurred in the February 2011 earthquake. The building was deconstructed and stabilised. The building is now owned by the Christchurch Heritage Trust.