Sanson church to come alive for 140th birthday
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.
St Thomas Anglican Church in Sanson was built in 1877.