Today (6 June 2016) is the 150th anniversary of the consecration and opening of Old St Paul’s on Trinity Sunday 6 June 1866. The event was celebrated yesterday with a Choral Evensong held at the church, attended by Bishop Justin Duckworth, the 11th Bishop of Wellington, mirroring the day the church was opened by Bishop Charles Abraham, the 1st Bishop of Wellington. Bishop Justin talked of the church being a place of transformations, and of it being a place in which he has spent significant moments in his life, just as many other Wellingtonians have over the lifetime of the church.
Although the church is a much larger structure than the one that Abraham opened , 150 years ago, and more highly decorated, there were also many things the same – including the beautiful stained glass windows glowing in the sanctuary behind the clergy which were donated by the Abrahams. The church was full for the event last night, just as it was on the day it opened, and the service contained the same hymns that were sung on the day the church opened. We were treated to some beautiful music from the Wellington Cathedral Choir, lead by the cathedral’s Director of Music Michael Stewart – in this regard I suspect the event was quite different – the quality of music would have been of a much greater quality last night than it would have been on that first day.
Architect Bill Alington’s drawing of what the church would have looked like in 1866 when it opened, before the additions to the church were made.
Images from the 150th anniversary consecration service.
It was lovely to see the choir in the choir stalls, and the Dean’s and Precentor’s stalls being used as they would have been until 1964, when the church was closed for regular worship. It was also lovely to see the use of the Louisa Seddon processional cross at the beginning and end of the service, as seen in the main image of this story. The event was a fitting tribute to the church and the people who have worked and worshipped in it, as well as those who made it and those who saved it.