We have much to be grateful for, for the work of Christian Julius Toxward, the talented Danish architect who arrived in Wellington in around 1866.  He was one of the many Scandinavian settlers who came to New Zealand in the 1860s and 1870s.

As conservation architect Chris Cochran has written,  Toxward’s work at Old St Paul’s made the church much more complex, and yet the junction between the old and the new is seamless. He continued the ideas established by Frederick Thatcher in his original design of the church, including ensuring that the way in which the church was built could be clearly seen in its architecture.  Part of his work created the beautiful ‘crossing’ with its diagonal trusses in the ceiling, which is such a distinctive feature of the church, and which can be seen at the top of this article.

A recently published work about Wellington’s architecture by Geoff Mew and Adrian Humphris, From Raupo to Deco, has uncovered for the first time the depth of Toxward’s work in Wellington. He designed a remarkable 230 buildings in the city between 1866 and his death in 1891, ranging widely over different architectural styles and types: churches, mills, residences, shops, schools, warehouses, banks.  He also was the Danish consul in New Zealand, he actively assisted newly-arrived Danish immigrants, and many more things beside.

He worked on many buildings for religious denominations in Wellington.  The first, almost as soon as he arrived in the city, was the Presbyterian St Andrew’s Church on Lambton Quay in 1866 (which has a connection to St Paul’s, as it later was moved and became the Tinakori Church Hall).  He also designed major additions to the wooden Catholic St Mary’s Cathedral (the predecessor of the current St Mary’s cathedral), and the Synagogue.  Two years after his arrival in the city, he moved on to the Anglican Cathedral, St Paul’s.

Toxward’s work at Old St Paul’s

Only one year after the completion of St Paul’s the stability of the church was a concern, particularly in the face of the prevailing, and famous, Wellington winds, so the decision was made to stabilise the church and also to house more parishioners.  Toxward was employed by the vestry to design first a south transept, built in 1868, and then a matching north transept, along with the north aisle extension, built in 1874.


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Before and after the addition of Toxward’s new south transept (the area with the large window facing the photographer in the second photo).

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Looking towards the north transept, built 1874.


Toxward was certainly energetic – on the day that he advertised the tender for the second of these additions to the church, he also advertised tenders for five other projects, including new buildings for Wellington College, a two-storey house, a warehouse and a set of stables in Bowen Street.

Sources: Chris Cochran, ‘Toxward, Christian Julius’, from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. URL: http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/biographies/2t47/toxward-christian-julius; Geoff Mew and Adrian Humphris, Raupo to Deco: Wellington Styles and Architects 1840-1940, Wellington, 2014.  Images: Before and After Images: William Henry Whitmore Davis, 1866, Ref: 10×8-2087-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23073579 and Unknown photographer, 1867, Ref: 1/2-021203-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22735459; North Transept: AAQT 6539 A40766, Archives New Zealand.