History Timeline

For over 150 years St Peter's Anglican Church has stood in the heart of Church Corner, at the junction of three main roads heading south, east and west in and out of Christchurch.


Rev Octavius Mathias licensed to the Cure of Christchurch with Riccarton. Subscribing for a Riccarton church is started.


The Parish of Christchurch is subdivided to form parishes of Christchurch, Papanui, Riccarton, Avonside, Lower Heathcote and Upper Heathcote. Parish of Riccarton included Fendall Town, Hornby, Templeton, Halswell and Prebbleton.


Bishop Harper arrives in Christchurch.


February – Thomas Rowley and Charles Bowen were appointed as Church Property Trustees for Riccarton, and immediately conceived the idea of building a church.


First parish meeting 22nd of December.

1857 – 1858

The first burial takes place in the grounds of the churchyard prior to the construction of St Peter’s. It was the son of a friend of Mathias’, George Eusebius Owen, son of John.

The first wedding also takes place, Thomas Rowley to Emily Mathias.

The Church of St Peter as designed by Mountfort and Luck is constructed. On 6 April 1858 St Peter’s Church is consecrated by Bishop Harper. 100 people present, second church in Canterbury to be consecrated. First vicar, Rev Croasdaile Bowen. The church is fully paid for at a cost of £315.

On top of the spire was a large wooden cock, the symbol of the patronal saint, Peter.

1859 – 1860

The nave is lengthened and a north transept is added. Mountfort and Luck are again the architects.


First window – East Window – presented by Mrs Lancelot Walker. The Vicarage is built.


A second tower is added.


Benjamin Mountfort draws up plans for a large stone church.


Halswell Church separated from Upper Riccarton Parish.


The chancel is built to design drawn up architect B.W. Mountfort, building undertaken by S.H Seager.


The Hill organ is installed, a donation from friends of Mrs Harper (church organist and wife of the then Warden).


Sister church, St Luke’s of Yaldhurst is built.


The transepts and two bays of a new nave as designed by the late Benjamin Mountfort are constructed with his son, Cyril, acting as project architect.


Mrs Croasdaile Bowen lays foundation stone for the new section of the church of the 31st of October.


Bowden Hall for Sunday School and functions is built. Opened 1910. Architects Clarkson and R.A Ballantyne.


First foundation stone for last additions laid on the 12th of August by Archbishop West-Watson, in memory of Archdeacon Croasdaile Bowen.

The nave is completed and a stone tower and vestries are added to the design of Cecil Wood. The work completes the reconstruction of the church in stone. Consecrated 1929 by Archbishop West Watson in memory of Rev. Croasdaile Bowen.


Glebe land ceased to be farmed by the Vicar and was leased out.


‘One Tree Hall’ built for the Sunday School, made from timber from one giant fir tree.


The Parish Hall is consecrated.


The graveyard is reorganised with the original iron railing and grave surrounds being removed.


Don Donnithorne designs alterations to the church. Interior of church is reordered.


Curletts Road cuts through the glebe. Sections are sold to form the glebe Endowment Fund.


St Luke’s Church is extended.


The Rieger Organ is installed.


The first Christchurch earthquake in September damages the church.


Further damage is incurred in a second earthquake in February.


St Peter’s Fundraising Committee start working in earnest to fundraise to restore St Peter’s Anglican Church.

Historic Overview

In 1852 the Rev. Octavius Mathias purchased Rural Section 160 from the Canterbury Association. It consisted of 200 acres and cost £600. Twenty acres were given to the parish of St Peter to be used for a church, vicarage, Sunday school and cemetery. The remainder of the land was to become ‘glebe land’, land that was farmed by the vicar of the day to provide him with income.

Mathias began a fund for the building of the church, and a canvass of the district increased the funds. Isaac Luck and Benjamin Mountfort prepared plans, and in 1858 the first church, built by James Maskrey from Akaroa timber, was completed at a cost of £315.

On top of the spire was a large wooden cock, the symbol of the patronal saint, Peter. The church was consecrated on Easter Sunday, 6 April 1858, by Bishop Harper with over 100 people present. St Peter’s was the second church in Christchurch to be consecrated.

Almost immediately it was realised that the wooden church was too small for the growing population in the area. In 1860 the nave was lengthened and a north transept was added. Mountfort and Luck were again the architects, and in 1874 Mountfort was instructed to prepare plans for a large stone church.

In 1875 the vestry made the decision that the enlargement be a portion of the new church, a new stone chancel. The tender of Samuel Hurst Seager was accepted and the work began immediately.

In 1900 it was decided to rebuild the old wooden part of the church in stone using the original plans designed by the late Benjamin Mountfort. This was overseen by his son Cyril. The foundation stone was laid on 31st October 1900 by Mrs Croasdaile Bowen, the widow of the first vicar.

In 1928 the foundation stone was laid for the last additions to transform the church from wood to stone. The designs were by Cecil Wood. The larger stone church was built over the old church, with the congregation worshipping inside for most of the process

In 1976 Don Donnithorne was the architect for the reordering of the church. The effect of this was to bring the nave altar, and as a result the service of communion, closer to the congregation.

In 2010 and 2011 St Peter’s was severely damaged in the Canterbury Earthquakes. In 2016, 158 years after it was consecrated by Bishop Harper, fundraising begins in earnest to save this wonderful part of Christchurch’s physical, spiritual and social history.