In August 1865, ten months after work began on the church, the church’s foundation stone was laid by Governor Sir George Grey in the midst of the construction site. The ceremony was attended by around 300 people, including almost all the members of both houses of parliament, the Superintendent Judge Johnson, and ‘a large number of ladies’.
You can read more about the ceremony here.
But where is the foundation stone now?
In a newspaper article in February 1866, the journalist, having interviewed Thatcher, recorded that as the foundation stone is ‘not required for the usual purpose of foundation stones in stone buildings, it has been converted into a base on which the font will stand, just inside the great west window’. So, what does this mean? Is it the stone base for the font today (pictured below)?
The font has been moved from its original position, when the church was extended to make the baptistry larger. So when this was done did the font move but the stone remain where it was? If so, does it lie under the church? Various tradesmen have tried to scrabble under the church to try and find it, but to no avail.
I have tried searching for further newspaper reports about the font and foundation stone, but haven’t been able to find the answer.
What we do have it a record of what the foundation stone looked like. The foundation stone (or ‘corner stone’ as it was called in the engraving) was made by Marriott and names Thatcher as being both the previous curate and the architect of the building – as well as naming Grey, Selwyn, Abraham, the churchwardens, and the builder John McLaggan. He appears to have then imprinted a copy and posted it to Sir George Grey.
Images: Ref GLNZ M24, Auckland City Libraries Special Collections, other images Elizabeth Cox. Sources: Wellington Independent, 22 August 1865, p5