St George’s Chapel, Barbadoes Street Cemetery

Today, all that marks where the St George’s Chapel (pictured) stood in the Barbadoes (should have been spelt Barbados – a 1849 typo that wasn’t corrected) Street Cemetery is a large plaque with a grave map and an acknowledgement to all that were buried there without ceremony or marker.

Barbadoes is considered to be Christchurch’s oldest street. When surveyors Captain Joseph Thomas and Edward Jollie put together Christchurch’s first map in 1849, Barbadoes Street and its cemetery were there. An Anglican cemetery for an Anglican city.

St George’s Chapel was designed by Benjamin Mountfort and was used for services around many of the funerals. It had six stain glass windows, which were mostly memorials to certain city personalities but there was one that is still considered to be one of the most admired art pieces in the country. It is of the ‘Risen Christ walking on the water’. It was made in 1868.

The first burial has very little information, simply recorded down that it was a person by the name of ‘Brown’. The last burial was in 1973, owing to the fact that some were buried in their existing family plot.

St George’s Chapel was demolished by the Christchurch City Council in 1955 and the windows were saved by a private collector and disappeared. They reappeared in the Robert McDougall Art Gallery but I don’t know what year these windows were seen again by the Christchurch people. As the Gallery closed in 2002, I am hopeful that these windows are in the care of the Christchurch Museum.

The real pearler about that 1849 map of Christchurch, is that right beside Barbadoes Street Cemetery was to be the Christchurch Botanical Gardens! Crazy to imagine the Gardens down Barbadoes Street today!

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