Sunday Schools

The Sunday School was an important part of the work of the church. In the 1850s a building had been built in Sydney Street for the St Paul’s Sunday school.  By 1873 it numbered 120 pupils, and a Sunday School library was established. Once the battle to have religious education in public schools had been lost with the passing of the Education Act 1877, the church put much effort into supporting Sunday Schools.

In 1897 classes on offer had substantially increased: there were no less than three Sunday School buildings run by the St Paul’s parish.  There was one in Tinakori Road (seven classes for boys and seven for girls), one in Sydney Street (five classes of girls and four for boys) and one in Wadestown, all holding classes from 3 to 4pm each Sunday. These three schools ran for many decades, and every annual report of the parish charted the many hundreds of pupils who attended, as well as Bible Classes for adults, and a kindergarten for pre-school children. Both women and men were involved in the running of these classes.

St Paul’s School (Thorndon Parish School)

The parish also involved in the running of the St Paul’s School (sometimes called the ‘day school’ to distinguish it from the Sunday School, and also sometimes the Thorndon Parish School) from its very earliest days. It was one of the first schools in Wellington.  The school was opened in 1852 with 35 children, and was originally known as the Church of England School. The school accepted both boys and girls from the beginning. The school was later often known as ‘Mowbray’s School’, for William Mowbray, a noted educationalist who ran the school for many years. The school was taken over by the government in 1873, with Mowbray still as headmaster. This school later moved site and became Thorndon School. In 1888 a new Church of England school was established by the St Paul’s vestry.

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Image: The Thorndon Parish School, Thorndon, c1890s. Ref: 1/2-089203-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. (This image is a close up detail from the larger image above).

Fitzherbert Terrace School

St Paul’s also had a long association with the Fitzherbert Terrace School (also known as Mrs Swainson’s School), from its formation in Tinakori in the 1870s, until it moved to Karori and was renamed Samuel Marsden Collegiate in the 1920s. Although it was well known as a girl’s school, it also, for a time, accepted boys.  Two of the children who attended were Katherine Mansfield, and her bother Lesley. The headmistresses had a close connection to the church, and the vicar at St Paul’s was also the chaplain for the school and visited biweekly. The schoolgirls attended services at St Paul’s for many years.