Reverend Frederick George Brittan was only two years old when he and his family arrived in Lyttelton aboard the Canterbury Association’s 3rd ship, the ‘Sir George Seymour’. A few days later, his father William Guise Brittan would lead the first meeting with our settlers concerning their land orders and how things were to proceed.
Little Frederick spent his next two years growing up around the South East corner of Worchester Street and Oxford Terrace – the site of the Clarendon Towers before the 2011 earthquakes. As an old man, he fondly remembered how his father would head off to work at the Land Office that sat adjacent to their house (the site of the old Municipal Chambers) and how across Worchester Street, Dr. A. C. Barker had set up his surgery (now the site of the Rydges Hotel) – the good doctor being recognised today as one of Canterbury’s earliest photographers.
In 1852, the family moved to the East Belt (Fitzgerald Ave) to ‘Englefield’ – this very heritage home appeared in the news this week (October 2016) about the struggles of restoration due to ongoing insurance and ownership issues. His Uncle Joseph Brittan – a non practising surgeon who craved a successful political career that never happened – took up the land east of ‘Englefield’ and called his estate Linwood. Sadly his home, Linwood House, was lost to the February 2011 earthquake but the nearby Brittan Street reminds us of this history. But it would be another family’s land allotment that would become a huge part of Frederick’s future.
After being educated at Christ’s College, Frederick was ordained by Bishop Harper (Canterbury’s first Anglican Bishop) into the life of the clergy and he became the Reverend of Papanui. He held this post from 1873 until 1883. During this time, he witnessed the building of St Paul’s Anglican Church, designed by Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort (architect of the Canterbury Provincial Chambers, the Canterbury Museum etc.) with which the timber supplied by his father was taken from the Brittan allotment of Papanui Bush (now Papanui Domain). It seems St Paul’s remained the spiritual home of the Brittan family as a large family plot now exists in the cemetery there (pictured).
After his time at St Paul’s, Brittan became a school master and taught at Christ’s College. He lived his entire life in Christchurch and died at his Chapter Street address on 13th September 1945, in his 97th year. His funeral was held in the Christchurch Cathedral and was acknowledged as the last of our Canterbury Association settlers.
*photo taken by Annette Bulovic*