Horner’s Corner

I’m sure as William Horner (1832 – 1905) walked down Papanui Road to work, he would glance over towards St Paul’s Anglican Church and dream – his destiny was very much laid out before him in Papanui.

William and his wife Mary Proctor arrived in Lyttelton in 1859.  They first settled there – where William would walk to Papanui everyday for work – then in Sumner, Marshlands (which would have been known as Rhodes Swamp in those days) and by the time they made the move to Papanui, the Horner’s were a family of 13.

It was 1871 when William purchased what would become known as Horner’s Corner.  These 50 acres sat between the Main North, Papanui, Grants Roads and Proctor Street.  Being a Blacksmith, William soon opened a shop on his land.  It just happened that St Paul’s were building a new church so William purchased the old church building for £15 and moved it across the road – he was all set.

Two years later he began to subdivide Horner’s Corner and marked out the roads that sat in between the sections himself.  He chose the street names from within the family and this is how we have Horner Street, Wyndham (was William Street) Street, Mary Street, Proctor Street, Loftus (was Lofthouse) Street, Frank Street and James Street today.

The Horners became very much a part of the life at St Paul’s.  In fact, the church’s glebe was rented by William as a cricket field as he loved the sport very much.  The glebe today is St James Park.  A glebe is a neighbouring piece of land owned by a church to be used to make extra income.

William died in 1905 and is buried with Mary and their infant children at St Paul’s.  Following the death of Mary in 1919, in a nice twist, Horner’s Corner returned into the ownership of the Dunnage Family – the first family to have purchased the land back in 1851.

Rev. George Dunnage arrived in Lyttelton aboard the ‘Fatima’, the Canterbury Association’s 23rd ship -the second to last the Association would ever send.  He had been assigned to St Paul’s as the Vicar but unfortunately bad health kept him from taking up his post.  He had though, taken up land adjacent to the church and named it ‘Springlands’ – not much more than a swamp in those days.  Sadly the Rev. was the first to be buried at St Paul’s in 1853.

‘Springlands’ passed on to other owners over the years – George Duncan Lockhart, Rev. Dr. Lillie, Alfred Cox and just before William Horner, there was John Thomas Matson (1845 – 1895).

John arrived in Canterbury with his father in 1862 from Australia.  The purchase of ‘Springlands’ happened soon after.  In 1864, John returned to Australia to marry his sweetheart, Marion Thomas.  John made his living as an auctioneer – with H. Matson & Co – and was in fact, the auctioneer who conducted the first ever wool sale in Christchurch.  He paid for the bells of St Paul’s but I’m sure during his life-time, he was known as the man who filled his properties with Ostriches.

John also owned land in Bishopdale which he named ‘Isleworth Farm’ – now Isleworth School.  He also filled this farm with Ostriches! What a sight! John died in 1895 and is buried at St Paul’s.

John’s father was also quite a character too.  Henry Matson (1814 – 1885) found work in Christchurch as a property agent.  He worked for J.C. Aitkin Property and then Ison & Co.  In 1862 he became partners with C.O. Torlesse – one of Canterbury’s earliest surveyors.  The pair had their office in Colombo Street which was gutted out by fire just 2 years later.  Henry went into business for himself following this, starting a company known as H. Matson & Co – very much a family business.  The same year, he purchased land very close to St Paul’s glebe and named it the ‘Township of Delce’, Delce being the name of his father’s property back in England.

Matsons Ave is still with us today but the other roads within the property when it was being subdivided have disappeared – Charles and Delce Streets.

*All photos taken by Chris and Annette Bulovic*

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