AVONSIDE – The Holy Trinity Of Avonside (1855 – 2011)

The Avonside Parish came in second for two very important milestones!Firstly, the Holy Trinity Church was the second church built in Christchurch. St Michael and his Angels was the first. I am delighted to report that the latter church is in tip top shape and it is still serving its Anglican community on its original site in Oxford Terrace!Next, Avonside is the second oldest suburb – dating from the arrival of the first four ships in December 1850. Heathcote is the oldest in this regard. Riccarton, of course, was the first in Christchurch since the Deans brothers had been farming there from 1843.History states that the suburb of Avonside was named after the Holy Trinity Church Avonside – a church that was beside the Avon…figures really 🙂 I can not find a name of a person that came up with the term.

In 1855, Rev Charles Mackie began to hold church services at Stricklands – his home – and the reason we have Strickland Street now. This first service took place on Christmas Day. Church goer, John Dudley (remembered today in the naming of Dudley Creek) also opened Broome Park – his home – every fortnight for church services; his property now being the suburb of Dallington.

Land was eventually given to the church from John and Elizabeth Stace (arrived on the 13th Canterbury Association ship – The Lady Nugent – in 1851) and a little cob church was built in 1857 and was consecrated by Bishop Harper. By 1859, the Avonside Parish had the spiritual health concerns of worshippers as far away as the Styx (Redwood), Linwood and New Brighton. The church that we have come to know this past century was started in 1874 – the architect being Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort. Later, his son Cyril would continue to extend the church. Both Benjamin and Cyril are buried in the cemetery. The Holy Trinity had its last face-lift in 1954.

Holy Trinity was damaged slightly in the 4th September 2010 earthquake. The repairmen, who were having their lunch when the 22nd February earthquake hit, witnessed the roof cave in and the walls tumble down over the nearby graves. Under a dark cloud, the church was demolished (September 2011), no effort being made to save the windows or remove historical items from inside. There was a huge outcry from the community! Only the graves now remain. A time capsule was discovered as the debris was cleared. Inside were the words of the consecration, read by Bishop Harper 154 years ago.

*Photo taken by Chris Bulovic*

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