monument 9 11 christchurch
Architecture, Travel

Christchurch Cathedral – Now Lost

Church

The Cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand, was an impressive piece of religious architecture and a tourist draw-card for the small city. Sadly it’s now gone, due to two large earthquakes that occurred back in 2010 and 2011. I was lucky enough to visit just two weeks before the first earthquake.

History of Christchurch

For Christchurch to be declared a ‘city’, with all the privileges that entailed, it had to have a cathedral, so the pilgrims that sailed on the immigrant ships in 1850 and made Christchurch their home, built the cathedral in the historic style of the time. Clearly, they had faith that the city would develop.

The Church though a little damaged, remained intact after the first earthquake, in 2010, but the beautiful tower fell in the second event barely six months later. An earthquake-proof cathedral, presumably of a different design will be re-built on this site.

mosaic christchurch cathedral
Reproduction in mosaics on the floor of the Cathedral depicting one of four pilgrim ships that established Christchurch in 1850.

Early Pilgrims

Some insight into days on board the immigrant ships was provided:

Life on board was cramped. Steerage passengers were confined to a small space below the main deck. Single men slept in bunks. Married couples had a curtain for privacy. This space was used not only for sleeping, but also for storing everything needed for the voyage. There was a lack of fresh air, and dampness was a constant concern. Basic food was provided, such as salted meat, flour, rice, biscuits and potatoes. A bucket was supplied for washing and laundry.

Many suffered from seasickness. The worst, during the first two weeks, but for some, it continued for the whole voyage. Passengers passed the time at sea plotting the ship’s course, writing letters and diaries, sewing, playing cards and games, and dancing. Prayer meetings were held every morning and afternoon, and there was a full church service on Sundays. There were also school lessons for the children. Source: http://www.firstfourships.co.nz/

The Altar

Christchurch cathedral
Before the Quake….

Christchurch cathedral

A door like the Cathedral entry door could withstand any earthquake.

christchurch cathedral


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Christchurch Cathedral’s Stained Glass Windows

Christchurch cathedral
Christchurch before the Quake….

Not able to withstand the quake were the stained glass windows and curiously patriotic cushions on the pews.

Christchurch before the Quake....

Mosaics

christchurch cathedral

The mosaic theme continued all along the wall and floor tiles. They loved these sorts of things in the mid 1800’s. Didn’t they? A real treasure.

Mosaics

Part of the design included a Swastika, a symbol that held a different meaning, prior to World War II.

The Swastika is known as the Fylfot and is an ancient symbol found in the ruins of Troy, Egypt, China, and India. In Sanskit, it means prosperity from the belief that it brings good luck. The Victorians loved the symbol and I have a Victorian hat pin that is a swastika. It gives me the creeps, but historically, that was not the intention.

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Not sure what the relevance of this was for, other than what it says.

Christchurch before the Quake....
Christchurch cathedral

Here is what the cathedral looked like until recently – Reduced to rubble but the door remains intact.

Work was scheduled to begin in 2020, on the re-build.

Linking to Norm’s doors

65 thoughts on “Christchurch Cathedral – Now Lost”

  1. Thanks for that post. It shows how photography can capture the past – to an extent, two-dimensionally. In many ways, NZ is very far away from Central Europe but because of my husband’s love for rugby we always have an eye for that part of the world and we followed the news about the earthquakes.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes indeed. A moment can last a lifetime, through photography, Knickers! I have the image of that cathedral burned into my mind. It was so beautiful. Anything in New Zealand feels closer to home for us. Naturally…

      Liked by 2 people

    1. The South island offers so much on the way of scenery to the traveller. It is supposedly very Norway like, in some respects and every where you go the backdrop is snow-capped mountains. Special.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I also was in Iceland, 2 weeks before the large earthquake and volcano erupted. So my timings are impeccable but also worrying, for when I visit other seismically active places, like Japan.

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  2. I also visited it pre earthquakes and it was a beautiful cathedral and I remember the Wizard in the square as well. So sad to see it as per your final picture when I visited again last year. Did you see the current temporary cardboard cathedral?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Glad they are planning to rebuild. Hope that is successful.

    On Friday, July 31, 2020, Something to Ponder About wrote:

    > Forestwood posted: ” The Cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand, was an > impressive piece of religious architecture and a tourist drawcard, for the > small city. Sadly is now gone due to two large earthquakes in 2010 and > 2011. I was lucky enough to visit two weeks prio” >

    Liked by 2 people

        1. I am sure the Government and the economy has something to do with it. It might be hard to prioritise a religious site over basic facilities and services, like roads and infrastructure?

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    1. Lucky for you you saw it in it before the collapse. I was a little worried when I heard of the earthquake two weeks after my visit to Christchurch and around two weeks after my visit to Iceland on another trip. Coincidence of course, but I was a little unsettled about visiting Japan. Nothing happened though. When I visited Wellington a few years after the Christchurch visit, they had just had a large quake, but as everything is built to earthquake standard, only the council chambes which was built prior to the earthquakes standards coming in to force, was affected. There were several quakes, mild whilst I was in one of the shopping centres in the Hutt Valley, but I didn’t feel anything. Have you had a close contact with a disaster during some of your many travels, Peggy?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. London Bridge (the one on the Great Ocean Road) fell down the day after my mother and I crossed it. Other than that, I’ve been in three tornadoes and been in buildings struck by lightening three times, plus a few other low-key events.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a good question and I don’t know the answer I really hope so because some of them were really worthwhile. I do hope they can salvage the floor and wall tiles.

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    1. Yes. The first quake caused more damage to the train line north and areas outside of Christchurch. I think the second one was so shallow and centred in Lyttleton so was felt more and caused the awful damage snd loss of life, in Christchurch.

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  4. sounds like the Polynesians had a healthier voyage in their boats!

    I only saw the Cathedral from the outside so I really appreciate the documentation your photos provide of the skill and love that went into it.

    Hitler apparently reversed the swastika knowing it would play with peoples minds!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think the Nazis were searching for something symbolic and the ancient connection spoke to them. Though, who can really understand their motivation, right?
      You are right about the Polynesians – they may have been more used to seafaring in those waters.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Lucky indeed to see the cathedral as I did, Jane. It is a sad loss for the city. The cathedral was so iconic of the city and a drawcard for tourists and visitors even if they weren’t religious.

      Liked by 2 people

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