Church Name: Sacred Heart
Designed by Christchurch architect Benjamin Mountfort, this church was opened on October 25, 1874. It was completed in 1877. Stained glass windows were set in Gothic frames and a rose window was placed in the sanctuary. Wooden beams supported a high arched roof. The ceiling was painted sky blue and spangled with bright gilt stars. Choir stalls were erected each side of the sanctuary. Bishop Redwood blessed the church on June 24, 1877.
The church was destroyed by fire towards the end of 1910. A hall was built and used as a temporary church until the present basilica, designed by Frances Petre, was opened by Bishop Grimes on October 1, 1911.
Mountfort enlarged the church to three times its original size in 1876 (Lyttelton Times April 25, 1876)
The fire that destroyed the church was caused when a man threw a lighted cigarette butt in the church grounds. A branch of the old bluegum tree in the girls’ school leaned over the little wooden church. The fire from the cigarette butt lit the branch and the burning branch set the wooden church on fire and it was burnt to the ground. Mass was celebrated in St Patrick’s Hall for a few months.