Canterbury’s Oldest Surviving Original Church Is Built – 1854

In 1854, Canterbury’s oldest surviving original church, St Bartholomew’s of Kaiapoi is built on Cass Street – named after early surveyor, Thomas Cass.

Although the church has had upgrades and additions over the years, some of its structure still dates back to 1854. It was designed by Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort, the architect behind the Canterbury Museum, the Arts Centre, and the Addington Prison just to name a few.

Benjamin, his brother and their wives had arrived in Canterbury just 4 years previously on board the ‘Charlotte Jane’, the Canterbury Association’s first ship. Already a fully qualified architect, disappointment soon followed his arrival as there was no real demand for an architect at that early stage of the colony.

Two years would pass before Benjamin was hired for his first design job; the Most Holy Trinity Church in Lyttelton. I’m sure this project boosted his spirits as he had been running a stationery shop to make ends meet. He even gave drawing lessons!

Just a year after designing St Bartholomew’s, Benjamin started his plans for the biggest project of his career at that time – the Canterbury Provincial Chambers!

Curious about Thomas Cass?

Curious about Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort?

*image courtesy of the Auckland City Council – – ‘Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-6804*

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