The first religious services held in Wellington were Presbyterian and it was not until 1844 that the first Anglican church – the first St Paul’s – was built. Governor Fitzroy allowed the church to be built within the Government Reserve (on part of the land today occupied by the Beehive), much to the annoyance of the other churches in the city.
The first St Paul’s church, built in 1844, was a simple gabled building, capable of seating 230 people, and was later extended.
Bishop Selywn, the first Bishop of New Zealand, and many others, hated the building. One visitor in 1861, Margaret Harring, called it:
‘about as ugly a Church in itself as you can imagine’.
By 1861 Bishop Abraham, in his second year as Bishop of Wellington, told the synod: ‘Here, in Wellington, we cannot be content with the fabric called St Paul’s Thorndon. The wants of the Church population demand a larger and better church’, and besides, the existing St Paul’s was ‘in a very ruinous condition’.