1878: St Mark’s Anglican Church, Remuera, Auckland, New Zealand.

The first historical stained glass windows to be erected in St. Marks were created by the Colonial Stained Glass firm from Victoria, Ferguson & Urie, of North Melbourne. The triple light window depicted “St. Mark and the lion” and was erected as the principal east window in the chancel circa 1878. Another two Ferguson & Urie windows, depicting ‘Hope’ and ‘Faith’ were erected in the north and south sides of the chancel in 1879.

The 1982 St Mark’s Church History book by Hilary Reid [1] recorded the following information:

“The church was embellished and beautified as well as enlarged for, in 1878 too, a lovely stained glass window was donated anonymously for the east window. It was later revealed that Mr. J.C. Seccombe, the brewer of Newmarket was the donor. In April, 1879, Mr Edwin Hesketh wrote to the vestry offering from his mother and brothers and himself two small stained glass memorial windows for the chancel.”

Photos taken: 22nd January 2013.
(Photos by Janice Ball, nee Auld, Great Great Granddaughter of James Ferguson of the Ferguson & Urie Stained Glass Company. Photo of original chancel window in 1902 is reproduced from St Mark’s Church history book, page 39, with permission of Hillary F.  Reid, M.A. 5th Feb 2013, others from Auckland Library ‘Sir George Grey Special Collections’).

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(Note: Some elements of the Hesketh windows are not original Ferguson & Urie work. It’s my opinion that the head of the figure depicting ‘Hope’ and the head of the Angel at the foot of ‘Faith’ are complete replacements from early restoration or conservation work.)

In 1878, after alterations to St Mark’s were completed, a description of the chancel window depicting “St Mark and the Lion” was reported in the papers as being made by Ferguson and Urie of Melbourne for £150[2]. The article indicated that the window was “the gift of a member of the congregation” who was later revealed to have been Mr John Carroll Seccombe, the owner of the Great Northern Brewery. The chancel window lighted St Mark’s for nearly 60 years before it was destroyed by a suspicious fire which started at midnight on the 4th of April 1935[3]. Two other smaller windows donated by the Hesketh family survived the fire.

John Carroll Seccombe (c.1834-1892):

The donor of the original chancel window was John Carroll Seccombe. His father, Richard, began small scale brewing operations in New Plymouth in 1846 and later migrated north to Auckland and circa 1856 took over the Albert Brewery[4], which was founded circa 1847 by George Partington[5]. In December 1860 Richard Seccombe began construction on the Great Northern Brewery on Khyber Pass Road in Auckland and commenced brewing operations on the 24th May 1861[6]. The company used the rampant lion symbol from the family crest as its logo and it later came to be known as “The Lion” brewery. After Richard Seccombe retired the business was continued at the helm of his second son John Carroll Seccombe. On the 16th of February 1892 J. C. Seccombe died at the Lake Takapuna Hotel after an extended illness, aged 58. At the time of his death there were an estimated thirteen hotels within the Seccombe brewing empire. His funeral was held at St Mark’s Anglican Church in Remuera on the afternoon of the 17th and the cortege comprised an estimated 30 carriages plus foot mourners and a considerable number his brethren from the Remuera Masonic Lodge. The prominent Auckland Solicitor Edwin Hesketh played the “Dead March in Saul” on the organ at the close of the service[7].

The Great Northern Brewery brewery continued for a number of years with his wife Isabella Harriet Seccombe (c.1836-1902) & Alfred Seccombe as directors[8] and circa 1914, ‘Campbell and Ehrenfried’ took over the business. Successive mergers occurred with other brewing companies in the following years and eventually morphed into the company known as “Lion Nathan Ltd” which formed in 1988 and expanded to become one of the largest wine and spirit merchants in Australasia.

The Hesketh Windows:

Two smaller single light windows in the chancel were donated by the Hesketh family in 1879 and were also made by Ferguson & Urie of North Melbourne. These windows miraculously escaped serious damage during the fire in 1935.

The stained glass window on the north side of the chancel depicts “Hope” and has an angel holding a ribbon below with the text “I am the resurrection and the life”. A brass plaque below it states that it was erected by the widow of Emanuel Hesketh (Caroline nee Nelson[9]). Emanuel was an early schoolmaster in Auckland[10], who died aged 51 years[11] on the 28th May 1864 [12].

The window on the south side of the chancel depicts “Faith”. An angel below is holding a ribbon with the text “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord”. A brass plaque below the window states that it is in memory of Frederick Hesketh who died aged 27 on the 23rd February 1872[13] and was erected by his brothers. The figurative depiction of “Faith” is from a cartoon used by Ferguson & Urie in other windows by the firm at Christ Church Hawthorn in Melbourne and All Saints Church in South Hobart. The original cartoon is based on a series of original paintings by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-92) that depict “Faith, Hope & Charity”.

Emanuel Hesketh, his wife Caroline, and sons William, Charles, Edwin and Frederick were natives of Manchester in England and arrived in Auckland aboard the “Caduceus” from London on the 19th May 1859 [14].  The youngest son, Samuel, remained in England with an uncle and arrived later in 1863[15]. The head of the family, Emanuel, was a well educated man having been a school teacher and was later appointed a schoolmaster in Auckland[16]. The Hesketh boys benefited greatly from their fathers experience as an educator and were also keen sportsmen who were selected as members of Auckland’s “Newmarket Eleven” Cricket team[17] as early as c.1863 and were instrumental in the formation of the Auckland Suburban Rugby Club in 1891[18].

Emanuel Hesketh ( c.1813 -1864):

The patriarch of the family was Emanuel Hesketh who was born in Manchester circa 1813 and married Caroline Nelson in Manchester in 1837. Emanuel was a teacher and later a school master in Auckland. Emanuel died at Remuera on the 28th of May 1864[19] aged 51. In later years his wife Caroline resided at her son Edwin’s substantial home “St John’s Wood” (also known as Hesketh House) at Epsom in Auckland, which later became part of the Auckland Diocesan Girls High School circa 1903. Caroline died on the 25th of May 1886[20] aged 73.

Edwin Hesketh ( c.1843 – 1898):

Edwin Hesketh became a prominent barrister in the Auckland area. He was admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of New Zealand in October 1865[21]. He married Jane Parnell on the 27th December 1867 at St Mark’s Remuera[22] and in early 1870 entered into partnership as solicitors “Hesketh & Richmond” [23]. In February 1878 he was appointed as secretary of the Auckland Solicitors’ Society[24] and in March of the same year was nominated as Governor of the Grammar School by members of the Board of Education and General Assembly[25]. Edwin, like his parents and siblings, was a staunch supporter and liberal donor of St Marks Anglican Church in Remuera as well as being Vestryman, Synodsman, Chancellor of the Diocese, and Church Organist. He was an accomplished musician who also donated the first organ to St Mark’s Church in 1872-73[26] and befittingly was the first to officially play it at the re-opening of the church in May 1873[27]. He remained the church organist, and sometimes the choirmaster, for many years even though increasing deafness reduced his enjoyment of music. In 1881 Edwin was nominated as a candidate for the Eden district[28], but declined to enter politics in favour of his profession[29].  Outside of professional life he was a keen bird breeder and Vice President of the Auckland Chrysanthemum Society[30]. Edwin Hesketh died aged 55 on the 23rd of July 1898[31]. His peers in the legal profession held him in such high esteem that the sitting Judge (Conolly) of the Supreme Court adjourned all sittings until 10 am the following day[32]. His funeral was one of the largest ever seen in Remeuera. The original organ that Edwin had donated in 1872-73, was destroyed in the 1935 fire. The ‘Faith’ and ‘Hope’ stained glass windows dedicated to his father Emanuel, and Brother Frederick survived.

Frederick Hesketh (c.1845-1872):

Frederick Hesketh is commemorated in St Mark’s by a Ferguson & Urie stained glass window depicting “Faith”. While working as a chainman with O’Meara’s survey party near Rivershead he left early on the morning of the 23rd of February to wash a shirt in a nearby waterhole. His fatal mistake was not taking a friend with him to the waterhole as he subsequently fell in and drowned after suffering a seizure. His friends, having found him face down in the waterhole some considerable time later, attempted to revive him by archaic methods that would not have saved him even if they had found him earlier:

“…Ryan and I then went to the body, took his boots and socks off, and rubbed his feet, body, and hands for an hour. We observed no marks on the body. Ryan also cut his wrist with a razor, to try and draw blood. No blood flowed from the wound at the time. We then became satisfied that he was dead…” [33]

The jury at the inquest returned a verdict of “Accidental Death”. A brass plaque at the foot of the stained glass window in St Marks indicates that it was erected in his memory by his brothers.

Charles Hesketh (c.1842-1930):

Charles Hesketh began his early career as a farmers hand and later joined the firm of auctioneer Alfred Buckland where he remained for over 20 years and on Buckland’s retirement, brought the business and entered into partnership with Alexander Aitken as Hesketh & Aitken in the grain and produce business[34]. He saw active service during the first Taranaki war and the Waikato war, and was a recipient of the New Zealand Medal[35]. He was a keen Cricketer and Hon Secretary of the Newmarket Cricket Club[36]. He had an instrumental part in the raising of the Parnell Volunteer Fire Brigade in 1866[37], and was a past master of the Remuera Freemason Lodge, member of the Auckland Council Licensing Bench, and a Councillor from 1893 to 1900 and served on the Remuera Highway Board and school committee. Charles Hesketh was an active supporter and liberal donor of St Mark’s Church. He died at Tauranga on the 13th February 1930, aged 88[38].

Samuel Hesketh (c.1849 – 1939):

Samuel Hesketh remained in England with an uncle when the family emigrated in 1859 and arrived in Auckland on the 7th February 1863[39] at about the age of fourteen, he was later articled to his brother Edwin in the legal profession and after passing his exams in 1878 “In an extremely satisfactory manner”, was admitted as a barrister of the court[40]. He was a senior partner in the legal firm Hesketh, Richmond, Adams and Cocker and later Hesketh and Richmond and became the head of the company after his Brother Edwin’s death in 1898. He was a chairman of the Epsom Road Board, a member of the Manukau Water Supply Board, and a member of the Reform Party and a personal friend of the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Hon William Ferguson Massey[41]. For many years he was a member of the Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Auckland and a liberal supporter of St Mark’s Church in Remuera.

Samuel Hesketh died on Sunday 8th January 1939, aged 89 and was buried on the 10th of January, “…The long cortege left the residence, “Fernacre.” 89, Gillies Avenue, Epsom, for St. Mark’s Church, Remuera, at 2 o’clock…”[42]

William Nelson Hesketh: (c.1838-c.1880):

William was the eldest son of Emanuel and Caroline. Nothing further is known of his life other than he had returned to England at some point.

Significant tabloid transcriptions:

New Zealand Herald, Volume XV, Issue 5152, 22 May 1878, page 3.


“This church, situated as it is on the rise of the hill on the Remuera Road, has lately been undergoing extensive alterations, which have just now been completed. These alterations consist of an addition to the southern transept, the lighting of the church with gas, the removal of the pulpit, and substituting in lieu thereof a desk and lectern. The whole of the works have been executed with great taste and judgement, and reflect the greatest credit upon those who have carried out the same…”

“…On entering the nave by the main entrance of the church, the visitor is at once at once struck with astonishment at the pleasing and handsome view which is presented to the eye on looking at the east end of the church. The large gothic window in the chancel, some 15 feet by 10 feet, is of stained glass in three panels, representing the figure of St. Mark and the lion, burnt in the most soft and tasteful colours, the features, hands, and robes of the figure being exquisitely blended together, and shewing most prominently the various degrees and shades of light. The two side panels consist of rich and delicate work, executed in bright and cheerful colours, add greatly to the effect of the figure in the centre panel. The whole of the interior is surrounded by a handsome floral border, surmounted by the figure of an inverted dove. The effect of this magnificent window, which surpasses anything of the kind in Auckland, is very imposing, and fills the chancel with a halo specially appropriate to that portion of the church. We are informed that this window, which was made by Messrs. Urie and Ferguson, of Melbourne, at the cost of £150, is the gift of a member of the congregation, and who has also generously placed it in its present position…”

Auckland Star, Volume LXVI, Issue 80, 4 April 1935, page 9.


Fire completely destroyed an organ valued at between £3000 and £4000 and considerably damaged the chancel and sanctuary in St. Mark’s Church, Remuera, at midnight last night…”

“…Splendid work by the brigades resulted in a remarkable save. Most of the damage was confined to the organ, although valuable stained glass windows above the altar were damaged…”

Foot notes:

[1] St Mark’s Remuera 1847-1981: The Story of a Parish, Auckland, 1982. Hilary F. Reid, M.A.

[9] Caroline Hesketh died 1886 aged 73; NZ BDM 1886/2470.

[11] Emanuel Hesketh died 1864 aged 51; NZ BDM 1864/3402.

[42] Auckland Star, Volume LXX, Issue 7, 10 January 1939, Page 9


Thanks to Janice Ball for finding the original article about the chancel window in 1878 and then undertaking the 400km round trip to Auckland with Cleeve to see, and photograph, the remaining “Hope” & “Faith” windows by Ferguson & Urie, and also for sending me the copy of the St Mark’s Church history book – ( ‘St Mark’s Remuera 1847-1981: The Story of a Parish, Auckland, 1982; ‘Hilary F. Reid, M.A.’) and for her tenacity in following up the research clues from the New Zealand side of our small world.

Thanks to Hillary F. Reid, M.A. for permission to include a copy from page 39 of the St Mark’s history book (via Janice Ball, 5th Feb 2013), and the Auckland City Library (also via Janice, 11th Feb 2013) for the additional photos, from the ‘Sir George Grey Collections’, of the chancel of St Mark’s prior to the 1935 fire.

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