Ashburton 2nd Church


Church Name: Church of the Holy Name of Jesus.  Second Church.

(photo courtesy of Marist Archives, Wellington)

The foundation stone for Ashburton’s second church was laid by Bishop Redwood on January 22, 1882. The church was designed by Dunedin architect Francis Petre and was built by a Dunedin builder, Mr Small, of concrete faced with Oamaru and Mount Somers limestone. The style was Flemish Gothic. It was planned to be a large building, 82 feet long, 28 feet 6 inches wide, with a height to the ceiling of 40 feet and to the ridge 52 feet. The square tower housed the baptistery and organ loft. It was to be surmounted by a 120-foot spire and the church was to have two transepts, each 27 feet by 40 feet. The interior was finished in varnished wood and plaster, with the clerestory roof being supported on columns. Coloured glass windows had a design of various coloured crosses on a green background. A feature of the exterior was metal flying buttresses supporting the clerestory.

The church was estimated to cost £2000, but by November 1882 £2300 had been spent and the decision was made to stop building. The sanctuary, transepts and spire were never built, and the rear wall remained corrugated iron

The church was opened on December 10, 1882 by Bishop Redwood with a choir formed from members of all local denominations under the baton of the choirmaster from St Stephen’s Anglican church performing Mozart’s Twelfth Mass.

The church, with its very high walls, was built side on to the prevailing nor’ west wind. Following earthquake damage in 1888 the lower walls were strengthened with large timber props to prevent the wind further damaging them. In 1888 parish administrator Fr Nicholas Binsfeld SM wrote that the church had deteriorated to the stage where “the first severe nor’ wester may throw it down.”

When Fr James O’Donnell arrived as parish priest in November 1892 he had the building surveyed by an architect, who found it to be in better condition than generally thought.

Money was collected to repair and complete the church, and a sanctuary and sacristies were added, but by 1905 it became apparent replacement was the only option. However, with large sums being collected to pay the debt on the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, replacement could not be contemplated at that stage. World War One continued to put plans on hold and it was 1930 before a new church was started, this church being demolished in 1931, some of its fittings such as pews and statues being re-used in the new church.


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Ashburton 2nd Church