Here at this website, we are feeling a bit proud, as this is our 100th post about the history of Old St Paul’s, since we started the project about 18 months ago. In the map above you can see the countries that have viewed the website in the first half of 2016 alone. The website has had great feedback, and through the behind-the-scenes statistics I can see that in 2015 it had over 1,000 separate visitors, and they viewed an average of more than 3 pages each. Even better, already in 2016 we’ve already made it to almost 1,000 visitors – in just half a year.
I feel as if the project is in the midst of achieving something really meaningful about the communication of New Zealand heritage stories to the public.
My favourite stories
Some of my favourites have involved uncovering stories that link the church into the greater history of Wellington city – such at this story about the litany desk and its creator, Harriette Crawford, and her education in wood carving at Wellington Technical College.
I am also proud of that story because, as far as I know, no-one knew that the desk was carved by a woman. I also uncovered lots of great information about John McLaggan, who built the church.
The story of one of New Zealand’s first celebrity weddings was a lot of fun to write, particular the description of the crowds of children following the bride to and from the church. Less glamorous, but just as fascinating, was the story of the first wedding at Old St Paul’s, telling the story of the working class immigrants to Wellington and the struggles they faced.
And the story I have told many times when I talk about this project and Old St Paul’s, to tug on the heart strings, is this story about the dying man and his loving wife sitting in the beautiful little clergy vestry.
The project has brought me into contact, in a historical sense, with some fabulous people, such as Caroline Abraham, the wife of the first Bishop of Wellington – and the painter of this image of Old St Paul’s – and of course the architect of St Paul’s and parish priest Frederick Thatcher himself, described as a ‘magnet few could resist’.
The handy web analytics that I receive from the website provides me information about some of the stories that have received the most hits. Some of those have been:
- the story of the United States Marines who worshipped at Old St Paul’s during World War Two – I like to think that perhaps the ex-serviceman who knew St Paul’s from their time in Wellington are looking at this story. I know they often still visit the church;
- the story of the Porutu family – I suspect that somewhere the story of the young men saved by the kindness of Ruhia Porutu must be a school assignment somewhere;
- the story about the missing foundation stone has also been popular – people like a good mystery; and
- Cindy’s lovely story about Captain Seddon, the much-loved son of Richard John and Louisa Seddon, who died in the First World War, who has a brass in the church.
I have been greatly assisted by Chontelle, Rebecca and Cindy, who have written such great stories for me. I am also really grateful to the help and moral support that has been given to me by the staff and volunteers at Old St Paul’s, and also by the Friends of Old St Paul’s.
I’d love to hear any comments or questions you may have.