I have already written of Caroline Abraham, the talented wife of Bishop of Wellington, Charles Abraham, who was the bishop at the time the church opened in 1866, and who painted a beautiful picture of the church.
But I thought it would be good to add her description of the opening of the church – one of the few that have been found, apart from the newspaper descriptions, such quoted in this article.
We were favoured by a fine day. There was a large congregation, the music (of the two choirs joined) good – the architecture being mixed – Early English, Middle Pointed and Perpendicular – Charles selected the music – mixed also …
She said that the service was the impressive, with the Eton Master’s gift of a communion plate looking ‘gorgeous’, while:
our one Painted Window above (the Cruxification) gave rich colour to the background of white-robed priests and the Bishop in the midst. It was more of a Ceremonial than people were used to and they were surprised at their own feelings, and the impression it made on them …
Her reference to the fact that the service was ‘more ceremonial’ than people were used to is a reference to the strongly-held view within many in the Wellington Anglican community at that time that simple services, without any ritual or hint of Catholicism, was the correct way to run a church.
She and her husband was close friends of the architect of the church, Rev Frederick Thatcher, and it seems she was thinking of him, absent from the church’s consecration because of illness, when she wrote:
It was a happy day to us and the thought of the absent and departed, who had helped us to build it, made it more sacred to us.
Image: The church as it appeared in 1867, one year after the consecration. Interior view of St Pauls Pro-Cathedral, Wellington, New Zealand. Unknown photographer. Ref: PA1-q-541-12-2. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23252639