Old St Paul's Wellington New Zealand

Bringing the Stories Out of the Woodwork


Old St Paul’s: A Biography of a Church



This is a historical website about Old St Paul’s, Thorndon, Wellington, New Zealand, which opened in 1866.  It was designed by one of New Zealand’s most remarkable architects, Frederick Thatcher.  For 98 years the church filled a triple role – the parish church for Thorndon, the Anglican cathedral for the Wellington diocese, and the unofficial national cathedral for New Zealand – until it closed for regular worship in 1964.

The church is now known as Old St Paul’s, managed by Heritage New Zealand, and for the last 50 years has been a venue for thousands of events, and welcomed visitors from around the world.  It is one of New Zealand’s most important heritage buildings, and an integral part of our city.

This site explores the architecture and objects of the church, its congregation, clergy and community, and its myths and mysteries. The aim is to create ‘a biography of a church’.  It has been compiled by historian Elizabeth Cox, who specialises in social and architectural history, with contributions from students at Victoria University.  New research is added all the time. If you have any comments, please use the form below.

We have written more than 100 stories on this site – check them out here.


The church is managed and cared for by Heritage New Zealand.  To visit their site, click here.

3 thoughts on “Home

    1. Thanks Redmer, that’s a real compliment coming from someone who knows as much about Wellington as you! It’s still a work in progress – there’s so much more to say. Thanks again, Elizabeth

  1. Elizabeth – very impressive – and fantastically researched stories of a great place. I read the brief note on your work in the VuW Alumni Magazine – the link to the website was much appreciated….it headed me to a fantastic place.

    As the recently appointed CE of Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga I am hugely thankful.

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