History of St Barnabas

The Church Building

The land was gifted by Mrs Annie Pitt, the beneficial owner of what was then known as Warrenton Farm Park.  The stone foundations were built by Mr Alex Semple, a stonemason from Waitati.  The foundation stone (now assumed to be under the building) was laid by Mrs Pitt’s sister, Sophia Louisa Smith, on 15th April 1872.  The church was built by Mr Benjamin Smith (no relation), a settler from Seacliff who was a highly skilled carpenter, under the direction and with the assistance of Mr William Pitt.  It was completed in just a few months, being fully ready for an opening service on 11th November of that year.  The church and graveyard were formally consecrated by Bishop Nevill on St Barnabas Day, 11th June 1873.

No known plans or drawings exist; and it seems that Messrs Pitt and Smith worked from their own vision of what an English village church would look like when built in New Zealand timber.  It is generally agreed that they realised that vision magnificently.

The Stained Glass Windows

Apart from the magnificence of the timber itself St Barnabas is renowned for the stunning stained glass windows, particularly those filling the entire west wall.  While some details relating to their provenance are still in doubt, what we do know is summarised below.

The East Window

This depicts Christ the Teacher.  It is believed to have been brought out (or sent out) from England and installed in the church in 1872, but no documentary evidence relating to its origins has been found.  Below the window is a memorial strip bearing the inscription “In memoriam 2nd June 1864”.  This being the date on which the Pitts only child, a daughter, was born and died, it is accepted that this window is a memorial to that child.

The Pitt Window

  The central window in the west wall is a double-light and depicts the Annunciation of our Saviour to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  It is the only one of our windows to bear the name of its designer:”C. E. Tute of Gray’s Inn Square.”  It was installed in January-February 1896 at the expense of Mrs Annie Pitt as a memorial to her husband William.

The Smith Windows

  Three of the windows in the west wall are dedicated to the memory of Sophia Louisa Smith and her daughter Annie Josephine Villeneuve Smith.  They are (from left to right when viewed from inside the church) the single-light depicting St Augustine of Canterbury, the double-light depicting the Flight of the Holy Family into Egypt, and the double-light depicting the Crucifixion.  They were made by F.X. Zettler of the Munich studios in the early 1920’s for St Augustine’s Anglican Church in the Hamilton suburb of Brisbane, but rejected by that church after strong objection was raised by various veterans’ societies on the ground of their German manufacture.  They were installed in St Barnabas early in 1935 at the cost of the trustees of Mrs Smith in fulfilment of her testamentary wishes.

The Gardiner Window

  The remaining single-light in the west wall (nearest to the entrance to the church) is dedicated to the memory of Jane Alice Gardiner, who served for many years as our organist.  It depicts Joan of Arc, making it unique in Anglican Churches in this country.  It has not yet been determined whether this window was part of the same set as the Smith windows, or was designed and made in New Zealand to look like them.

The Font

The font was installed in the church in time to be used at the opening service on 11th November 1872 when three young children were baptised.  As far as we know it has been used for every subsequent baptism held in this church to the present time.  It is in the style known as “Perpendicular English Font” and was made from Oamaru stone by a Mr David Hunter.  The costs were met by Mrs Sophia Louisa Smith.