San­son church to come alive for 140th birth­day

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Rural Day - SAM KILMIS­TER

A small rect­an­gu­lar bell tower emerg­ing from the mid­dle of an old 1870s church is lined with stained glass win­dows that give bor­rowed light to the dim nave in­side.

Re­mark­ably, to­tara pegs and dowel joints rather than nails hold it all to­gether.

The Angli­can Church of St Thomas in San­son, Manawartu¯ , stands largely the same as the day it was built in April 1877. It’s seen plenty of bap­tisms, con­fir­ma­tions, weddings and funer­als since then.

Ahead of its 140th birth­day cel­e­bra­tions on Novem­ber 4, its mem­bers are ap­peal­ing to the com­mu­nity for mem­o­ries of the build­ing in its hey­day.

Co-or­di­na­tor James O’Re­gan said noth­ing too grand was planned, but that the church would be dec­o­rated by the Bulls Flo­ral Art group.

Con­struc­tion of the church should have started ear­lier than 1877, but the con­trac­tor, whose bid of £588 had been ac­cepted, failed to show up.

The ar­chi­tect was Charles Tring­ham, who also de­signed a church in Fox­ton, but later gave up ar­chi­tec­ture for sheep farm­ing in Wairarapa.

Although the build­ing, be­ing mid-Vic­to­rian Gothic, ap­pears more elab­o­rate than most coun­try churches, it was de­signed to hold a con­gre­ga­tion of only 120.

The only ad­di­tions have been a small ex­ten­sion for the or­gan and memo­rial stained glass win­dows in the chan­cel.

‘‘Fairs and so­cial gath­er­ings ar­ranged in con­nec­tion with St Thomas’ Church or held in the par­ish hall were also of so­cial value to not just the Angli­can, but the wider com­mu­nity,’’ O’Re­gan said.

‘‘The church also has lo­cal sig­nif­i­cance be­cause of the nu­mer­ous com­mem­o­ra­tive el­e­ments within the build­ing which hon­our mem­bers of lo­cal fam­i­lies, as well as casualties of World War I.’’

While once the thriv­ing hub of the town, the church now holds only a monthly ser­vice and a carol ser­vice on Christ­mas Eve.

‘‘The church has lo­cal sig­nif­i­cance.’’ James O'Re­gan

Res­i­dent Reg Siev­ers re­mem­bers Sun­day school.

His­to­rian Barry Brown said the church had a re­la­tion­ship with a St Thomas church in Ger­many and, of the names on the memo­rial board at the San­son church, about one third of them were Ger­man.

The or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee would like to borrow any pho­tos of events at St Thomas.

San­son res­i­dents and con­gre­ga­tion mem­bers are in­vited to visit the church on Novem­ber 5.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

St Thomas Angli­can Church in San­son was built in 1877.

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