History 

In 2006 St. Michael’s celebrated 100 years (roughly) since the old church hall was built on site. Building of the church started in 1912 and the foundation stone was laid in 1919. This stone is a block of marble inscribed with a Maltese Cross and the year given in Roman numerals, MCMXIX and can be found at the east end of the church on St Michael’s Crescent. This event is recorded in the National Library archives of the Evening Post.

In 1940 a strong earthquake irrecoverably damaged the nave (main section of the church where the pews are). Despite wartime austerity that part of the church was rebuilt by 1942. Further strengthening of the brick work wasn’t carried out until 2002!

The old hall was demolished when the new hall was built in 1964. The present narthex (foyer) was added to the church 1971/72.

 

 

Banners

The four fabric banners hanging over the nave of St Michael’s are immediately noticable when you enter the church. They were designed and made by Bridget Chapman, who was a parishioner, and installed during the late 1980’s. They speak of the great biblical themes of creation, redemption and the coming of the Spirit. The larger work hanging on the west wall above the entrance to the nave, was designed and executed by Beverley Shore Bennett, who also designed several of the stained glass windows in our church (see more below on Beverly).

You can read about the dedication by Mrs Anne Davidson of this wall-hanging as a memorial to her husband George Davidson on page 112 (and some historically relevant comment on page 94) of Joan Wood’s book St Michael and All Angels, Kelburn, copies of which you can find in the narthex (foyer). Feel free to keep one. In the book, the work is also referred to as a 'tapestry' on pages 112 and 116, though the usual description was 'wall-hanging'.

In 1968 Beverley Shore Bennet also designed and executed the Bible Class banner of St. Michael that stands on a wooden support in the chancel of our church. This replaces an earlier one by her of one that was stolen in 1967 but retains the style of the original.

 

Windows

The stained glass windows in St. Michael’s range in date from 1921 to the early 1980s. The ten windows fall loosely into two groups: those of English origin installed during the foundation of the church in the 1920s and those designed and made mainly in New Zealand, installed from the late 1960s to the early 1980s, with the remaining window installed in the 1940s. The styles vary from the Camm Brothers’ diagonally latticed, detailed compositions to the moments in movement that characterize Beverley Shore Bennett’s work. Some other New Zealand examples of the work of the Camm Brothers of Smethwick feature in Fiona Ciaran’s book The Stained Glass Windows of Canterbury. Beverley Shore Bennett is the only New Zealand woman to have been made a fellow of the British Society of Master Glass Painters. She was awarded an MBE in June, 1980. She has completed over five hundred stained glass window designs throughout New Zealand.

These stained glass windows are a testament to individuals and communities associated with St. Michael’s Church over almost a century. They are gifts, memorials and heritage works, mostly featuring Biblical narratives designed to teach and inspire. The church architect, Edmund Wilson, wrote of his desire for the first stained glass windows to be “appropriate in feeling” to the design of the building. Although stylistically very different, subsequent windows, echo this sentiment, with the overriding aim of glorifying God. In Walter Camm’s words, “a window should be not only beautiful in its detail, but an inspiration to all beholders for all time.” Beverley Shore Bennett’s consistent approach, in her own words, “has the starting point of prayer and what follows is God given.”

If you want to study the windows further — either here or in at the church — the following details may be of use to you…

 

East wall windows – the chancel

The church architect, Edmund Wilson of Invercargill, in 1920, expressed a dual purpose for the stained glass windows of St. Michael’s. His desire was that they should both be striking works of art and inspire worship. To Arthur Dixon, in June, Wilson wrote of “getting a result worthy of its high purpose in these troublous times.” He further wrote of his desire that the windows should “arrest the attention of the worshippers as they enter the church.”

“Lord Bledisloe, a former Governor-General, always maintained that the finest stained glass in New Zealand was in St. Michael’s.” This comment relates specifically to the East window and the St. Michael window, and was made after a visit made (according to the unknown writer of 'St. Michael’s Church', a spiral bound, Croxley ‘Li-Flat’ school exercise book in the Alexander Turnbull Library), in the early 1950s. 

 

The Nativity Window

 

The Nativity (The Holy Family and the Shepherds) – east wall, the chancel

While they were there (Bethlehem), the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her first born son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2: 6-7

The central light, unveiled in 1921, was given by Mrs Edward Anderson, in memory of her husband who died in 1919. All three windows were designed by Walter Camm and executed by Florence, Robert and Walter Camm, for the firm of Thomas William Camm, The Studio, Smethwick, England. The two sidelights were unveiled on 30 August 1925. The left light was a parting gift from the Reverend Arthur Payne and the right was a gift of the Sunday School children, in memory of those killed in the Great War.

In the Evening Post, 29 August 1925, an article appears detailing the unveiling of the windows. It carefully describes the portrayal of the subject, including the naturalistic detail of “St. Joseph’s sandals thrown off as he enters the manger.” The article concludes that “the window is remarkable for the richness of its colour and harmony of tones, and as a whole depicts the sacred subject of the Nativity with noble reverence and symbolism full of beautiful meaning.”

In correspondence between the Reverend Arthur Payne and Walter Camm, some confusion about the cost was discussed, as the estimate omitted the word ‘each.’ Walter Camm expressed alarm at “the preposterous duty on British stained glass for New Zealand.” Also that “since the war, expenses have increased by leaps and bounds in all directions.” Allowances were made and the two side lights with bronze saddle bars duly arrived on the R.M.S Tainui.

 

The Nativity Window

 

Touch Me Not, Rabboni – north wall, the nave

Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the father.” John 20:17

This double pane depicts The Risen Christ and Mary Magdalene, who emerge from a pale gold, decorative background. It was given by Mr and Mrs H.C. Gibbons in memory of their sons, Edward and Walter, killed in the Great War. It was ordered by the Reverend Arthur Payne, at a total cost of two hundred and fifty pounds. (Payne retired in August, 1925.) The letter of authenticity and certification is dated June, 1922. Payne was delighted by “the simple, though beautiful design, without elaborate details or treatment of the subject.”

In St. Michael’s Church, however, the writer wonders why the work was carried out by James Powell and Sons, Whitefriars, London, instead of the Camm brothers. He goes on to describe the window as “stereotyped, with commercialised colour”, and Mary’s purple robe as “quite horrible.” He wonders at the appropriateness of the design for two young men killed in action.

Mr Gibbons, donor of the window, visited James Powell and Sons on 15 December 1921. In a letter to Payne, dated 25 September 1922, from Bournemouth, Mr Gibbons expresses his clear delight at the finished windows. “It is difficult for me to express all we feel with regard to the whole of your arrangements, great thoughtfulness and kindnesses in connection with the glorious ceremony of the unveiling of the memorial window to our boys.” The letter is written in a large, flowing script over several backed pages. Mr Gibbons died on 13 March 1941.

 

The Nativity Window

 

St. Michael in Armour – south wall, the chancel

“And war broke out in Heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon.” Revelation 12: 7

The St. Michael window occupies the traditional place for the name window. It was unveiled on 2 October 1927. The design chosen was a portion of a window done in memory of the squire of Meriden parish, near Coventry, England – Captain Bankes, who was killed in the retreat from Mons.

The original drawing was painted by Florence Camm, with the assistance of Robert and Walter Camm. In the draft history of the parish, the subject is described as St Michael “striking down the dragon which symbolises the power of evil.”

 

The Nativity Window

 

Blessed are the Pure – north wall, the chancel

“Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8

This is the only window in St. Michael’s that does not have a Biblical narrative for its subject. Dedicated in March, 1944, the Flanagan window was erected in memory of their daughter Shirley Isobel, who died in 1939, aged 19.

Walter Camm, who manufactured the window, described its subject as “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” He further related the subject to Shirley in the Madonna lilies representing purity, the spinning wheel, domestic duties and the medallion of harp and scroll to Shirley’s musical tastes and talents.

 

The Nativity Window

 

St. Raphael — south wall, the chancel

“I am one of the seven holy angels, which present the prayers of the saints, and go in before the glory of the Holy One.” Tobit 12:15

Given by Mrs Evelyn Marsack in memory of her son Nigel and of her parents, Frank and Etta Robins. It was made in 1980, by Paul Hutchins of Miller Studios in Dunedin, and dedicated in 1981. The window depicts St. Raphael, one of the three archangels named in the Jewish scriptures. In the story of Tobit, Raphael uses a fish that is caught to both heal and repel evil.

Symbolically, the fish can also represent the church, the Greek word IXTHUS meaning both ‘fish’ and the words “Jesus Christ son of God Saviour”. Both the shoulder pouch and the medical symbol in the bottom left corner refer to his ministry of healing. St. Raphael steps towards us in swirling garments, characteristic of Beverley Shore Bennett’s style and what she describes as her “swoops and swishes”.

 

The Nativity Window

 

The Prodigal Son (I am the Good Shepherd) — south wall, the nave

“This son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” Luke 15:24

Gifted by Mr and Mrs George Davidson in memory of their parents. The window was dedicated by the Bishop of Wellington, on Jubilee Sunday, 1 October 1967, fifty years after St. Michael’s was declared a parochial district.

The windows were designed by Mr Pilgrim Wheton and made in Australia. They depict the Prodigal Son and The Good Shepherd. The style is linear, with stylised figures presented with bright clarity. In the two windows beside this, Beverley Shore Bennett consciously followed the same compositional format of a series of frames.

 

The Nativity Window

 

The Good Samaritan (The True Vine, Love One Another) — south wall, the nave

“But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.” Luke 10:33

This window was gifted by Mrs Maude Haines in memory of John Frederick Mayo, acting vicar (August 1940-April 1946). It was dedicated by Bishop MacKenzie at the Patronal Festival, 26 September 1971. The window was designed by Beverley Shore Bennett, who arranged for its manufacture by Roy Miller of Miller and Sons, Dunedin. The windows depict the story of The Good Samaritan in four circular frames. Biblical text features throughout the windows, with the new commandment to “love one another” at the top. The windows present both a central truth in Christ’s teaching as well as a tribute to the life and work of Mayo.

 

The Nativity Window

 

The Parable of the Sower (Secrets of the Kingdom of God, The Mustard Seed) — south wall, the nave

“But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit.” Matthew 13:23

Installed in 1981, this window is in memory of Dorothy Cowell Hentry and was paid for out of her generous legacy. This window depicts the parable of the sower and what that parable reveals about the Kingdom of Heaven. Biblical text is interspersed between the frames. It echoes the simple design of The Prodigal Son in its storybook format. The windows were designed by Beverley Shore Bennett and made by Paul Hutchins of Miller Studios, Dunedin.

 

The Nativity Window

 

The Crucifixion (Truly this was the Son of God) — north wall, the nave

Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s son!” Mark 15:39

This window depicts the crucified Christ on a dramatic red background. The contrasting left panel is predominantly rich blues, focussed in Mary’s garment. The window is in memory of Maude Haines who died on the 29 September 1971, her bequest covering most of the cost of the narthex. The vestry decided to place another window in St. Michael’s, “a project dear to the heart of Mrs Haines.” The window was installed and consecrated in 1975/6.

The coloured drawing (watercolour) for the Crucifixion windows, designed by Beverley Shore Bennett, is in the Alexander Turnbull Library. Characteristically, the lead is clearly a part of the design and relates to the subject for effect, rather than functioning independently. As a result, both sides are connected and flow into each other. The windows were made by Roy Miller of Miller Studios, Dunedin. Roy Miller retired in 1981.

 

The Nativity Window

 

The Transfiguration (Jesus Appears, The Disciples) — north wall, the nave

“Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white.” Matthew 17:1-2

The window is dedicated to Max Willacy-Kuhn (11 September 1904 – 24 February 1975). It was designed by Beverley Shore Bennett and installed towards the end of 1977 by his widow and family. Mrs Elizabeth Willacy-Kuhn described the subject of the Transfiguration as “a powerful symbol of the emergent, immaculate Christ”. Personal detail is also reflected in the choice of the predominant blue, Mr Willacy-Kuhn’s favourite colour, in contrast with the “homespun brown colours of the kneeling disciples”, so bringing heaven and earth together.