There has been a tradition of giving presents to St Paul’s, or to those who work in it, at Christmas time. I have found a number during my research:
The Illuminated Panels
The best known of all the gifts to the church at Christmas are the beautiful Barraud panels, below the clerestory windows, as told in this story, which were given at Christmas 1883. The were made by long-term parishioner and vestryman, Charles Decimus Barraud, who was a well-known artist. The ten panels are made from rimu and kauri and painted with oil colour. It isn’t known how Barraud chose the texts he painted on the panels, but one is particularly apt: ‘How amiable are thy dwellings Thou Lord of Hosts’.
In 1885, a new altar was donated to the church. To adorn the new altar, a Miss Neville designed and made a new altar frontal, which was presented to the church at Christmas time that year, by ‘several ladies of the church’. The precious altar frontal (pictured below) is now too small to fit on the altar, as it was enlarged in 1934, but it is now displayed in the large linen display cabinet in the church for visitors to see.
Bishop’s Chair and Desk
Bishop Frederic Wallis, on Christmas Day 1896, preached at the 11am service, and then spoke to the congregation from the pulpit to thank them for the chair (known as a Cathedra) and desk that they had given him as a Christmas gift that year. The desk is decorated with the Bishop’s own coat of arms, and were reserved solely for the use of the Bishop and his successors.
Swainson Window and Litany Desk
The Swainson Memorial Window and litany desk, in memory of Miss Swainson, outstanding educationalist and the founder of Samuel Marsden, were given in 1898 – their unveiling was announced in the newspaper on 27 December 1898, so I assume they were unveiled at Christmas that year. Follow these links to see the stories about the Swainson window, and the Swainson litany desk.
Another Christmas gift, not to the church but to a girl living next door to the church, and which today is held on display in the church, is a tiny copy of Hymns Ancient and Modern, inscribed to Adela Medley, by her aunt, for Christmas 1884, and is now on display in the interpretation area of the church.
See associated story here, about the ways in which the church was decorated over the years.
Images: Elizabeth Cox and Heritage New Zealand