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COMMUNITY CHURCH OF S.SIMON AND S.JUDE
Historical Notes 2006
first edition (1993) was based on materials in the possession of the
Committee. I have been able to add events since then from my own
recollections, and also more material from the Anglican
The earliest document we
have seen to date is a Consent, dated
5 10 1869, by Bishop Harper concerning 5 acres of land "conveyed in
to the Church Property Trustees...for a site for a Church and
in which he consents to "separate and set apart such portion of this
or parcel of ground as may not be hereafter used as a site for a Church
from all profane and common uses whatsoever and do dedicate and
the same for the purpose afore recited..." What became of the cemetery
proposal, and the exact relation to the present half-acre site, would
interesting to know..
We then have a Deed of 21st May, 1870, in which
Pemberton, surveyor, of Salt Water Creek, (the developer who subdivided
the village of Ashley) conveyed to the Revd Charles Turrell of
Elias Willis the younger, builder, of Christchurch and Charles Solly
of Ashley Downs, farmer, Trustees of the Diocesan Synod, the present
half-acre site, clearly shown on a map.
To an article in the "Press" of May 20, 1982, we owe
of the consecration of the Church by Bishop Harper on Thursday, June
1871. In spite of threatening weather, the service at 11 a.m. was well
attended and 60 invited guests sat down to lunch afterwards. The
tea meeting was abandoned because of a torrential rainstorm and
from the South of the Ashley were lucky not to be cut off by the river
"in high flood"
An article in the New
Zealand Church News, July 1871, reports in
detail on the Ashley Church, mentioning the site given by Mr Pemberton,
and the laying of the foundation stone on "the festival of St Simon and
St Jude last" (i.e. 28th October, 1870). The capacity is given as 80
and amongst much building detail, the East and West windows are
as well as crosses on the apex of each end. It was said to be "painted
outside with a warm stone colour, the main timbers picked out darker.
"The roof is all dressed timber, chiefly black pine; the
is raised two steps from the nave and the altar-table stands on a
The windows are filled with quarry-glass in lead....
"The Church is from the designs of Mr Mountfort, of
who has also furnished details for the altar, lectern, credence and
The Church in early days
Our first picture (photo 1) must date from these early
since the hedge and trees are entirely absent. How early it is, is not
known at present, but the view from the SW shows the highlighting of
timbers in dark colour and the crosses (in fact, three) referred to in
the 1871 report.
The Altar and East window are the subject of a Faculty by Bishop
Julius dated the 25th September, 1905, permitting the installation of
present stained glass window depicting the Good Samaritan, in memory of
Charlotte Jane Simpkinson (d. 26 8 1904), the gift of her husband,
Simpkinson. At the same time, the Altar received "a Reredos of three
and gables, of Rimu, the gift of the Ashley Church Workers Guild."
"A lectern of brass, a
thank-offering by Mrs J.E.G.Simpkinson"
is no longer in the Church, having been replaced by a wooden one,
at the time of restoration.
The minute-books of the
Guild are in the Diocesan archives and
a preliminary examination yielded the following summary of adornments
over the years, transcribed from the end- papers of the book:
1889 Chalice &
£ 6 . .
"Works done by the Guild:
4 11 8
1891 Matting for
1 12 .
4 10 .
4 13 .
1 10 .
.10.0 15.5 .
. 7 6
1897 Kneelers and Book
3 . .
1898 Portières and
4 .6 .
10 . .
1 12 6
East Window in Cathedral
6 2 9
2 Alms Bags given by Mrs Kingsbury
1902 Pair of Brass Candle
the Vicar by Avonside Church
1903-5 Nave Windows in Cathedral
6. 0. 6
1 13 9
1905 Green Carpet for Platform, given to the
Vicar by the Cathedral
Porch Lamp given by Mrs Booker,- ( ???)
Linen Cloth and Chalice Veil, given by Mr
J.C.G.Simpkinson, to ( ???)
1906 Sanctuary Hangings given to the Vicar
by the cathedral
A Lectern of Brass, a Thank-offering by
Mr & Mrs J.E.B.Simpkinson,
20 . .
East Window of Stained Glass, given by Mr
Simpkinson and other members of his family
in memory of his wife -
Window Frame 28 .
2 Nave Windows & the Vestry Window in
Cathedral glass, by Mrs
Reredos of Wood, erected by the Guild to the
memory of Mrs
15 . .
of Brass, by Mrs W. Booker, to (???) 1.15 .
Bookmarkers (collected through
1 3 .
1908- Altar Cross in Brass with Altar
7 11 .
Dish - by Mrs W. Booker, to
1 10 .
1909 Brass Rod etc for Sanctuary
1 14 .
1911 Chancel Lamps
4 14 6
10 . 2
12 3 6
1916 Hymn Board - given by Mrs Bowron
1 . .
Lamp - given by Mr
265 8 . 2
The East Window,
The Font in 1998
On 16th August, 1915, a Faculty was issued
for the Font Cover,
with its inscription, in memory of George Bowron.
The Church seems to have begun as part of the parochial district
of Leithfield, together with the Churches of S.Paul, Leithfield, S.
Michael & All Angels, Sefton, and, later, S. Martin, Loburn. From
1863 when the Leithfield Church was built, its parish stretched from
the Waipara to Saltwater Creek
In 1874 S. Matthew's Fernside was consecrated, and with Loburn
and Ashley formed a parochial district for a while. But in 1892
the Revd Herbert Edward East, ordained deacon in 1872 and priest in
1876, after serving as curate of Governor's Bay and Little River from
1872 to 1875, and from 1875 to 1892 as curate of Addington and
Halswell, became curate of Leithfield, including Ashley, at the time
when the old parish was divided at the Kowai river and the northern
part became the new parish of Amberley. He served until his death at
Easter, 1919. His 27 years of ministry are commemorated in the first of
the brass tablets in the Church
Whether or not his death is
to be regarded as the end of an era,
the fact is that at present we have very little material concerning the
years up to the cessation of Church services, given by sources as 1966
or 1968. There is a caveat and title deed for the site, dated 23 11
a brass tablet dated 1932 in memory of Thomas (1837-1923) and Mary
(1841-1932), erected by their children, and a will, dated 6th October,
1953, by Isaac Furby Croft bequeathing £100 each to the Churches
According to a letter of
29 3 1959 from C.Bliss to Mr Allison,
there existed a Vestry Book 1895- 1909, a cash book-ledger 1898-1912,
an Ashley Minute Book 1925-1941. These are probably now in the Diocesan
Archives, and I hope to research them when time permits. In the same
some extracts are given, listing offertories 1896-1912, varying
from œ9 to œ20. In 1897 the total attendances are given as 1569 and the
collections as averaging 3d per person. In 1900, Mr East was paid œ27
p.a. (Ashley's share of his stipend) and so 4 parishioners put up a
to meet the deficit. The 19th century Church records often refer to a
There is also a receipt for insurance with the C.P.T., 1 11 1915, as
The church at
premium £1.13. 4
premium 9. 9.
premium 6. 8
premium 1. 3
The Leithfield parish was dissolved in
1922. An unsuccessful attempt was made to form a separate
cure out of Loburn, Sefton and Ashley, and in 1928 The Rev. Edward
Chard, Vicar of Tuahiwi, was put in charge of these Churches, together
with Wooodend, which had existed since 1858. Mr Chard resigned in
1931 and all came under Rangiora until 1941 when they were again
constituted a separate porochial district under the Revd R.F N.
Thompson, who was followed by the Revd E.H. Newman. It appears that the
Ashley Church remained part of the Woodend Parochial District until its
Among later Vicars were The Revd W. Bool, and the Revd W. Childs,
formerly of the Church Army.
1966: RESTORATION 1973
<> This part of the story
is told mainly in newspaper cuttings and in correspondence of the
parties, and is well covered. On the 8th September, 1973, a
photo of the East Window appeared in an article in the "Press".
<> The East Window: a later
photo taken by Mr Lucking in 1998 >
In the article Mr H.W.F Hamilton, a vestryman of the parochial
whose wife was a niece of the Mrs Simpkinson commemorated in the East
argued strongly against the suggestion that the Anglican Church should
sell the building. In view of renewed building in the district he
this would be a short-sighted action, and if the Church were removed it
might have to be replaced in a few years at great expense. According to
the Vicar of Woodend quoted in an article of 16th October,1973, Mr
appeal for support had brought no response at all - local or otherwise.
"Tenders, therefore, had been called for the Church's removal." He also
quoted a letter from the Historic Places Trust saying it "had little
or architectural merit, and it can be assumed that if there had been an
increase instead of a decrease in the number of parishioners, the
wooden structure would have been replaced in time by one more durable
Memorial to Mr Hamilton
however, was not without support. On September
27 the "Press" reported Mr Paul Pascoe, the architect, as having
a meeting of 20 interested people in the Church to pray that "God's
be done". A working bee of 12 had cleaned it up beforehand, but its
state was displayed in a photo.
The Church stripped of its furnishings.
After the prayers a
discussion was held, leading to a report
by Mr Pascoe favouring preservation and restoration, and on the 29th
Mr B.W.Shead, Mrs Ruth Judge and M.Ball, on behalf of "a Committee of
people at Ashley" tendered $150 for the purchase of the building, "to
where it is, so that it may be restored and used as an
Church and Sunday School". The sum of $50 was tendered for a five-year
lease of the land.
Tenders closed on Monday,
1st October, and in a letter dated
5th October the Church Property Trustees wrote to say the tender had
unsuccessful. A report of the same day pictured the Church without
its crosses and buttresses,
The exterior in 1973.
and the font which like other
furnishings had been removed and
stored. This involved the dismantling of the hoist for the Font Cover
hoist was not replaced until Christmas 1991).
The Font in 1998
In fact the successful
tender had been for $607 and the tenderer,
who wished to remain anonymous, was proposing to dismantle the Church
make a house or other building elsewhere with the materials, which were
stated at the time to be of kauri. Mr J.J.Allison was reported as
that the residents had $500 available to buy out the successful
who, in reply to the offer on the 20th November by Mr Allison, Mr Ian
Mrs Judge and Mr Shead, gave his receipt on the 29th November for the
Meanwhile the residents had
called on the Bishop, who was not
at home (13th October), and Mr Childs, and written a 3-page submission
to the Woodend Vestry. They had also covered several eventualities by
offers from the Hobby family for the lease of part of the site next
and from Mr Lindsay for the sale of the land opposite the hotel, had
10 signatories undertaking to remove the Church from the site (all
20th October), and obtained a letter from the Ashley County Council
that a building permit could be issued (19th October).
In an article of the 15th
October Mr Allison was reported as
complaining bitterly that the Woodend Vestry "won't give an inch". From
the same report it appears that the Bishop and the Vestry were waiting
on each other's decision. But by the 31st October the residents had had
advice which had cleared the way for them to apply for the lease of the
existing site, at a nominal rate of $10 p.a. This was accepted.
Now the way was clear to
consider the restoration and the future
of the Church. A meeting was called for December 13. About 30 people
and 11 were elected as a committee for the overall restoration and care
of the Church, with a sub-committee of 4 to co- ordinate the religious
aspects. After buying the Church back, the committee had $250 in hand
the estimated $1500 cost of restoration. The 11 committee members were:
Mr B.Shead (chairman), Mrs R.Judge (secretary), Mr.J.J.Allison, Mr
Mrs L.Williams, Mrs J.Hobby, Mr.G.C.Cochrane, Mr I Baxter, Mrs G.S.
Mr W. Musgrave, and Mr L.Thompson. Several firms offered donations of
and work, and Mr Pascoe acted as honorary architect.
The first service was
announced for Sunday,the 23rd December.
Archdeacon Williams conducted it, and about 250 people attended. The
W.A Childs, of Woodend, and Mr W.Kennedy, a Roman Catholic from Loburn,
read lessons, a young people's band accompanied singing, and a
tableau was presented.
Another sevice was planned
for January 27, 1974, conducted by
the Revd R. Thompson, who had previously ministered at Ashley; and it
hoped to have continuing monthly services on Sunday afternoons so as
to clash with other services.
The East Window and other
windows had not yet been replaced,
and the report remarked on the "ventilation" of the open East end, and
the plastic sheeting over the other openings. An undated article
the completion of the new foundations (mainly the work of Mr Allison)
that the Font and East Window were still to be returned.
In another article
(undated) reporting the setting of the Church
on the new foundations, and the return of the East Window, a service
reported, conducted by the Vicar of Rangiora, the Revd C.W.Tremewan,
present) and the next was to be conducted by the Roman Catholic Fr J.
also of Rangiora. At that time Mrs Judge was reported as saying that
vestry was still to be rebuilt, some bad timbers were still to be
and pews needed to be found to replace those which were now unlikely to
be returned. At that time there were five or six pews and old chairs,
forms were borrowed for each service from the Ashley School.
Another undated article
reports these tasks as completed, together
with obtaining seating and an organ, and the clearing and replanting of
the grounds, and the beginning of repainting the outside. The
organ was lent by Mrs Judge, and remained in the Church until
it was replaced in the late 1980s by one almost exactly similar,
donated by Mr Argeo Dobran.
Mrs Judge had
continued to organize monthly services with a variety of guest
conducting them, and attendances of 100 had not been uncommon. The
photos show the Church in various stages of restoration.
shown in the photos are still known, and their names will be inserted
those who know them will make a note of them and hand it in.
On 30th November, 1975, a "late Centennial service" was
with the Revd R. Thompson as preacher. By this time much of the
had been returned, including the Altar and Reredos, and new carpet had
been given from S. John's, Rangiora, for the sanctuary floor. The Font
Cover was at that time in the Vestry, awaiting installation, and the
lectern remained in the Church at Loburn. It was apparently replaced by
a wooden one which is still in the Church.
The original hitching rails were
returned, and were said to be about to be brought back into use, (but
today - 1993 - are not replaced in position, but lie at the foot of an
<> At the annual meeting
which followed on the 10th December, Mrs
Judge, who was about to leave the area, handed over the organization of
the services to Mrs Harris and Miss Stewart. It appears to be at
this annual meeting also that Mr Shead remarked
on the holding of 3 baptisms in the preceding year, and that a regular
children's Sunday Morning Club, with prayer, songs, and fun and games
being held on the 2nd Sunday of each month. The Rangiora Soroptimists
also held their anniversary service in the Church. Another undated
tells of a religious drama held during the early days of the
It was on the theme of the Good Samaritan, and was written by Mrs Judge
and Mr Barry Grant, a Rangiora playwright.
The Ashley Church appeared
again in the "Press" on the 20th May
1982, when John Wilson wrote a résumé of the history,
with the fact that a small group, led by Mrs S.Intemann, continued to
for the Church. Services were being held each month by clergymen of
Churches, and weddings were also occasionally held. The group was just
able to meet outgoings but had no funds for restoration and
It was hoped that some organization could interest itself in the
of the Church and help the residents' committee.
<> In Dunedin, in July of
that year, I was beginning to look seriously
for a country Church in Canterbury in which, after ten years of serving
a congregation in the Greek style, I might be able with a few others to
present the Christian Faith in a style more familiar to those brought
in the English religious tradition. I was at that time using the Church
at Addington on visits to Christchurch and the Revd Peter Williams
the Ashley Church to me. The Revd Philip Charles, an old friend and a
Vicar of the Intemanns, made an introduction. We were invited to visit
and hold some services, and in December, 1982, a meeting was held at
the Intemann's house: the Church Committee, the Revd John
Rowe, Vicar of Woodend, and myself. Mr Rowe was well informed
about the Orthodox Church and its acceptance among the mainline
Churches of the World Council of Churches. He was able to explain to
the Committee the use of icons in the Eastern Rite, and other matters.
Although we were going to have to provide services for immigrant
Orthodox from Christchurch, I explained that my aim in asking to come
to Ashley was to provide a quiet retreat where those of us who had been
brought up in Western Churches might continue to enjoy our spiritual
culture without too much disturbing the other, ethnic, Orthodox. It was
also my hope that these services, being very like old-fashioned
Anglican or Catholic services, and using familiar hymns, etc., might be
shared with the residents to some extent. I was asked whether I would
be able to conduct the regular monthly service which Mr Rowe had been
holding (he was to move away soon). I said I thought I could, but when
asked whether we could share Communion with other Churches, I had
to admit that, like the Catholics, we were not permitted to do this. It
seemed to me that this answer was disappointing to some.>
> After a further visit and a public meeting in January,
permitted to hold occasional further visits until we were able to
in Ashley at the end of 1984. The visit, and the agreement to use the
were reported in local papers. Perhaps by way of arousing interest, the
articles highlighted the more exotic aspects of the Eastern services,
perhaps tended rather to cause some prejudice and suspicion, obscuring
the basic unity of christian faith. In any case, a spokesman remarked
the approach had renewed interest in the Church, which had been
in recent months, and the monthly interdenominational services would
Another article on the 1st
December, 1984, reviewed the history
and remarked that a youth group was being held for 10-16 year olds,
attendances between 25 and 30. Mr Tony Armstrong, at that time Chairman
of the Committee, remarked that water and toilets on the site, and
of the roof, were among the Committee's aims. The service on the 23rd
would be an opportunity to contribute to this. (It was about this time
that the walls were repainted by P.E.P. workers). Orthodox services
regularly at Christmas 1984, and by mid-1986 the
congregation, mainly from Christchurch, found itself
sufficiently settled to undertake to make annual donations sufficient
cover all ordinary expenses of the committee, including maintenance and
some restoration, estimated at the time at about $500 p.a. After a few
years of these quarterly payments, it was possible to pay for the
and repainting of the roof.
<>After Mass, Lent, 1985
<> Although much
restoration of the interior had taken place in the early 70s, the
historic character had been somewhat obscured by the loss of some of
the original furniture and other embellishments, and not all had
been able to be replaced. The pews, for instance, were of four
sorts, and it was not easy to see how the original character could be
made apparent. Over the years of our use, we provided some additional
furniture, as well as ordering the pews of one type as choir stalls.
Unfortunately, these stalls have not often been used for their true
purpose, but they have borne witness to the style which the architect
would have wished to impart.
<> Fr Peter Williams had pointed the Church out to me as
having three steps to the Altar, a feature that facilitated the solemn
celebration of the Eucharist with three sacred Ministers such as was
familiar to him and to me; and apparently, to Mr Mountfort. It is
remarkable how many Canterbury Churches have had architects who put in
features like this, in places where the offering of a solemn Eucharist,
or High Mass, would have seemed rather unlikely. They must have had
faith that by bearing witness to their vision in this way the time
might come when the hope would be realised. In fact an ecumenical
Solemn Eucharist was held by the Vicar of Rangiora with other Ministers
including Peter Williams on Pentecost, 2006: probably a first.
Peter Williams gave the
prayer-desk on the left; and the seat and
prayer-desk on the right are on loan from Cathedral Grammar Chapel,
where they had been in a lumber-room .
In all these contributions we took great care not to cut across
the special character of the building. Some may have thought that we
wanted to make the Church over in a foreign or exotic manner. Nothing
could have been further from the truth. This is why no suggestion was
ever made that we might try to buy the Church. From the beginning I
regarded it as providential that the Church belonged to others, who
were vigilant to maintain its essential character. In order to make
this clear, it is time that we said some things that were difficult to
say twenty years ago.
It is unfortunately the case that the Orthodox
Western Rite does
not always meet with the sympathy that it should amongst Orthodox
people brought up on the Eastern Rite. The theological basis for it is
undeniable; but many people do not think in theology but by
habit; and some jump rather easily to the
conclusion that it is a sort of Roman Trojan Horse. Antiochian
all agree that the Western Rite is accepted in our Church, but they
often come under pressure from other jurisdictions. I am able to write
of this now because, although we suffered a good deal on this subject
from the seventies to the nineties, we are now in a much more
favourable position. But at the time we came to Ashley, and for some
time after, there were difficulties and I was afraid that if our Church
owned the building, the authorities at some time might make it over
into the Eastern style. This would be an act of such disrespect that I
was not going to risk it in any way. It is still my view that if we
need a Church in the Eastern style, we should buy a very plain barn and
decorate it according to our fancy. That is in fact exactly what I did
in 1992 by installing a chapel in our schoolroom, and we used it for
several winters for the Eastern Liturgy.
So the style in which we tried to adorn the Church was one
we thought would have fulfilled the aspirations of Mr Benjamin
Mountford himself: that is, according to the standards of the
nineteenth-century Oxford Movement. The use of icons was something of
an exception, due to the need to provide for our worshippers, but even
so, not entirely, as a number of Churches in our area have wall
paintings as well as stained-glass windows, or instead of them: S.
Barnabas, Woodend, S. Bartholomew, Kaiapoi, S. Luke's, Christchurch,
and Holy Trinity, Lyttelton are some that come to mind readily. And
although icons are generally thought to be an Eastern form of Christian
image, there is a reference in the History which the Venerable Bede
wrote of the English Church, in which he says that S. Augustine and his
monks who came to Canterbury at the end of the sixth century came in
procession behind an image of the Saviour painted upon a board.
So perhaps the
processional Cross which we made with the help of an icon-book is not
out of place either.
Even so, if, as I have long hoped, we were to find
some donors to provide wndows of Biblical scenes etc, worthy of
association with the East Window, the icons would have served their
purpose and might retire in favour of their traditional Western
European equivalent. In conversations with the expert who has been
repairing the windows, I was delighted to find that one of the blank
glass panels could be transformed into a good Christian image for
about NZ$3,000 to $5,000.
In any case, it appears that those who look in on the Church
have usually remarked on its beauty, and those who ask to hold weddings
there often say that they chose it for that reason. And in particular,
one accidental visitor, who was to have a very beneficial influence on
the course of events at a crucial time, was so impressed that he wrote
a book about it: Mr George Lucking, the architect, of whom more
is told later in this booklet.
Since 1986 the Church has been in use daily, with a few
exceptions, and, since in its Anglican days the Vicars did not live at
Ashley, it has had more frequent use than ever before, although not by
large congregations. The Sunday Liturgy was fortnightly, then 3 Sundays
a month, until Dunedin received its own priest in October, 1992, when
it became weekly; the attendances varied around a dozen, ranging at
times up to 20 or down to 5.
By this time the inter-denominational services
had declined in numbers and only a Christmas service remained, which
continued to be well-attended (Around 70- 80). Members of the Committee
had moved away and finally there was only a secretary remaining. Thus,
for two years the conducting of the Christmas service was entrusted to
me; but in November 1992 a public meeting elected a new committee
whose chairman, Mr D. Wood, gave his energies both to the Christmas
service and to the preparation of a proper legal basis for the
Committee's tenure of the Church, which until then had been somewhat
In 1993 Mr Allison, who had died in 1991, was commemorated
by a new brass plaque provided by the family and dedicated by the Revd
G Fitzgerald on the occasion of an Allison family baptism. A number of
other baptisms and weddings have been held in the Church over the last
few years. During the nineties I tried to promote a few more occasions
in the year as opportunities for community ecumenical services: Harvest
Festival in March, Mid-Winter Feast in June, Patronal Festival (October
28). There was a modest response to these (20-30).
Before proceeding to more recent events, let us finish our
description of the interior by looking at the Altar with its East
Window. The latter is the only part of this Church which is still owned
by the Anglican Church, which has agreed that it should remain as long
as the building continues to be a Church; however, the Trustees and
their Committee take care of its maintenance and insurance.
The East Window
commemorates Mrs Simpkinson, and depicts the Parable of the Good
Samaritan, which Our Lord told to teach the Pharisees the love of one's
neighbour. In the central panel (see photo p. 3 above) we see the
Good Samaritan embracing the almost naked and half dead man who has
fallen among thieves, and pouring oil and wine into his wounds.
Meanwhile, the Priest, (ironically shown as a Christian Bishop with his
face buried in his Breviary) passes by on the other side in the right
panel, and so does the Levite in the left panel, this time depicted in
stylised Jewish robes.
During the 90s when the food banks of the Churches were
united in the Helping Hand administered from Ashley, and busily engaged
in helping needy families, it was a special inspiration to me to have
this window before my eyes as I prayed.
There is also a mystical interpretation of this parable
given by the early Church Fathers: Christ is the Good Samaritan
(his enemies called him that) who finds humanity robbed and wounded by
the devil and his evil angels, and heals him by the medicines of his
holy mysteries or sacraments, and delivers him to the inn, which is the
Church, to be nursed back to full health.
The Altar, 1998
The chief of the Christian mysteries for all Christians is
conducted at the Altar. This is always regarded as the most sacred part
of a Church, and traditionally was always marked off, either by a
wall (Choir or Rood Screen, or Iconostasion) or else by a low barrier
(Altar Rail). It would appear that the Ashley Church did have an Altar
Rail - the traces of it can be seen on the walls of the Sanctuary by
the second step. However, it did not survive the events of 1973. To
mark the edge of the Choir we have a row of four icons stands with
candle trays. These also provide the means to observe the ceremonies of
the Eastern Rite, and have recently replaced a rather untidy set
which were performing that function for many years.
The Table of the Altar is kept clear of everything except the
necessities of the Sacrament during the Eucharist: Corporal, Chalice,
Paten, the Missal with its desk or cushion. Everything else is placed
on the shelves (Gradines) provided for the purpose behind the Table or
Mensa. Apart from the usual cloths on the Table, there are the gold
lurex panels with the emblems of Christ (XP) and Simon and Jude (S and
J) which in the early 80s were made to replace red cloth which had
SS. Simon and Jude are also represented by detachable gilt panels
bearing images of the Saints. These were based on a copy of an icon of
S. Jude which is in S. Catherine's Monastery, Sinai. The icon of S.
Simon was painted by Julia Witbrock by adapting the copy of S. Jude and
then photocopying it to match the S. Jude icon more closely.
The Altar Cross panel has been composed into a simple
Calvary scene with a Crucifix and small icons of S. Mary and S. John
who stood there. Beneath it is the Tabernacle where the Holy Sacrament
is kept ready for emergencies. There is also an Aumbry on the
North wall where the Holy Oils are kept ready for use. Likewise
the Font is normally kept ready for use, being filled with water
blessed at Easter and Pentecost. To the right of the Altar, the South
side, is the Credence where things stand ready for offering the
Eucharist: water and wine, holy water, the Missal, and cards which
stand on the Gradine with portions of the text of the service to aid
the Priest's memory. A censer hangs nearby ready for use.
On the East wall left and right of the Altar are icons of
the Lord's Mother and of the Last Supper.
Finally, a white light (torch bulb) burns perpetually
before the Tabernacle, (to signify, as the reformation directions of
Henry VIII said, that Christ is the Light of the world).
Nearly all the above are to be found in any well known directory of
ceremonies, such as The Parson's Handbook, Ritual Notes, or Asdrian
The restoration campaign in 1973 had had two aims: to rescue the
Church from demolition and removal and keep it on its historic site;
and to repair the very serious delapidations that had accumulated over
the years. By buying the Church back, and by making an agreement to
lease the land for a peppercorn rental ($10 per year), the campaigners
achieved the first; and over the succeeeding months they thoroughly
repaired the Church, found furniture for it, and began holding
ecumenical services which, although dwindling in support,
continued until today.
The lease of the land was granted for 5 years, with no precise
agreement as to continuation. Nevertheless it was renewed 5 times,
until in 1998, 25 years after the restoration, the Anglican
authorities approached the Ashley Church Trustees about buying the
land. The precise figure had still to be negotiated, but it was clear
that some substantial fund-raising would be required.
It was fortunate that at that time Mr George Lucking, an
architect who was active on the Historic Places Trust, became aware of
the Church and communicated his strong concern for its preservation to
others in the Trust. With their support he prepared a brochure on the
Church which is available to be read by approaching the Church
Committee. Some of the pictures in that brochure appear by his
permission on our website and in this history. Mr Lucking made a very
thorough inspection of the Church and listed the preservation /
restoration work which either had become necessary by 25 years of
deterioration, or had been done in an imperfect manner in the 70s and
ought to be upgraded..
In section 6 of his Conservation Plan Mr Lucking addressed the question
of the Church's classification as an historic place and its recognition
and protection in the proposed district plan of the Waimakarariri
District Council. The situation appeared to be that the Church was
already protected against any substantial alteration, relocation or
This was understood to affect the valuation of the site to the
extent that it could be sold only as a site from which the Church could
not be removed. While the government valuation of the land in 1996 was
$31, 000 (and the Church $24, 000) this is understood to have been as a
building site. As this was no longer the case, opinions were given that
the site might now raise "something in four figures" if it could be
sold without removal of the Church.
After some time the Ashley trustees received a reply
from the Church Property Trustees to their letter enquiring as to what
price the C.P.T. would consider adequate, and at a meeting with
the Churchwardens in the C.P.T. office a price of $15,000 was agreed
on, and by that time two donations had been found to cover this.
The East Window was to remain the property of the Rangiora
parish, but to remain in the Ashley Church, to which it was given at
the beginning of the 20th Century, as long as it remained as a Church.
As a result of his survey in September 1998, Mr Lucking drew up
a table of necessary conservation work and its estimated costs. By late
2004 the Committee found itself with enough funds in hand to authorise
some of this work.
External work required included cleaning and painting of the
iron roof, replacement of NW braces, (begun July 2006) of plain glass
windows, and vestry door, repair of timberwork, repainting of walls,
collection of roof water, protective screens for windows, and
formation and sealing of the path from gate to porch: a total of
$24, 365 (partly done in July, 2006).
A start was made on the pews, by Community Service
workers, and at the time of writing (2006) was almost finished; and a
grant was received from Lotteries Conservation for $50,000 together
with instructions as to priorities; work was authorised on the East and
West windows and the other leadlights, and was completed by July, 2006.
Internal work was to involve cleaning and oil varnishing of walls
and pews and cleaning of the roof trusses and floor, a pair of
doors between the porch and nave, and upgraded light fittings: a
further total of $4,975. Apart from the congregational pews, these
matters still remained to be done in August, 2006.
General matters: fire protection involving a water supply and sprinkler
system; and an architect's fee, ($2, 000) totalling $16,500.
The Grand Total, including GST, was given as $51, 570.
In support of the restoration of the Church letters were
included from Dr Ian J. Lochhead, Assistant Professor of Art History at
the School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury; Sir Miles Warren,
Architect; and Guy Sellars, FNZIA, Convenor of the Heritage Buildings
Sub-Committee of the Canterbury Branch of the NZ Institute of
Appendices contained detailed drawings of the Church by Mr
Lucking; old and new photographs recording the history and the present
condition of the Church; the faculties for the East Window and Font; a
letter offering the support of
Canterbury Branch of the Historic Places Trust; the Trust Deed setting
up the Ashley trustees; and a Memorandum of appointment of the
deceased original trustees of the land by the Church Property trustees
(25 6 1976).
Legal work was to be completed with the IRD to secure recognition
of all donations to this cause as tax-deductible: this was confirmed as
done in 2001.
The Church, newly painted as in
The Secretary, Carol McQueen, has provided this list
of grants applied for and received, and tasks completed, as at
the time of the AGM in September 2006:
Lotteries Heritage Board: applied for $72.350.62;
by Graeme Stewart: complete, paid.
engineers Hanham & Tyndall
$28,520.00 remainder of grant for
sprinkler system ( a further $30,000.00 needed
Lion Foundation Grant: $6,637.50
Used to paint Church exterior (Graham Day painters)
completed and paid.
Waimakariri Contestable Fund: $5,700 awarded; jobs
still in progress, consisting of:
toughened glass over E. window
two interior doors in porch
Although grants were received as related above, this
could not have happened without evidence that considerable local
fund-raising effort had been made. In this respect it was fortunate
that Mr Gerry and Mrs Jan Leaper had joined the Committee as Treasurer
and President. Their considerable experience led to a new impetus in
functions to attract public interest and raise funds. One of the most
notable of these was the Edwardian Country Fair, held on the 12th
March, 2005, in conjunction with a very large floral display by Mrs
Leaper in the Church, and a Battle between Alf's Imperial Army and
local defenders, ostensibly for the possession of the Church, on the
ground behind the Church.
Flower display, 2005
In 2006 the event was repeated and although the
battle and the floral display were once again most impressive, the
stalls were rained out and the funds raised were consequently
small ($334.42). Mr George Lucking, the Historic
Places architect to whom so much is due in
persuading the Trust and the public to take the Ashley Church
seriously, died the day before the 2005 Fair.
GEORGE WILLIAM LUCKING
Benefactor of the Ashley Church
Mr Lucking was succeeded as Historic Places
Trust Architect by Mr Jim Espie. Mr Espie, however, died also, in 2006.
Much of the carpentry was done by Mr Arthur Simmonds, who also joined
the Committee and inspired the holding of mock battles.
Born 16 4 1923 died 11 3
May he rest in peace.
THE PRESENT AND FUTURE
The Church is kept open for visits and prayer during
daylight hours, and we want to continue this if at all possible, even
at the risk of occasionally losing a few things. Help from neighbours
in keeping an eye on the Church is much appreciated.
To sum up: the present state of the Church is surely one that
would give some satisfaction both to those who built it and used it
over a century, and to those who saved it from destruction. Some of the
adornments of the interior, listed in the Guild Minute Book and lost in
1973, were never returned, but others have been found over the years to
replace them, and the interior today presents an appearance that
conforms fairly well to the ideals that prevailed when Benjamin
Mountfort was making his designs: a traditional English Church, adapted
to the use of wood and to New Zealand conditions.
The interior, 1998.
All that remains to
be achieved is to develop a continuing and regular local appetite for
worship in familiar and traditional forms in harmony with the Church's
character. The revival that the restorers anticipated from subdivisions
in 1973 may have been short-lived, and is not likely to be a fruit of
current "developments" either, but it ought to be possible, without
cutting across existing congregations, without eccentricity or hard
selling, to use the Church to enrich and deepen the spiritual life of
the community. To find such a niche, and help rebuild the faith of our
society, is surely the most important remaining task of restoration.
Mr D. Woods, summing up his work for the Committee in the 90s,
remarked on the fact that although the Church was available for
use by all denominations, it had been little used for ordinary services
except by the Orthodox, and others might seem to have been deterred
from using it. "This", he concluded, "cannot be helped."
Nevertheless efforts do continue to encourage a wide use: 51
baptisms (24 of them Orthodox) have been held since 1973, and 22
weddings (7 Orthodox) from October 1981 to September 2006, as well as
the Christmas carol services which remain popular. And it quite
often happens that I come in to read the prayers of the Hours, to find
someone has been in and left a little donation and sometimes a
complementary note about the appearance of the interior.
We very much hope that the residents who own this Church will
increasingly feel at home in it and find it a place of spiritual
I ask your indulgence for any inaccuracies or omissions in this
little history, and should be most grateful for assistance in updating
it again in the future.
Ashley, September, 2006
From a pen-and ink drawing by Julia Witbrock, c. 1989
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