12-04-1875: Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Port Chalmers, New Zealand.

The foundation stone of Holy Trinity Anglican Church, at Port Chalmers, New Zealand, was laid on Wednesday the 7th of June 1871 [1] by Bishop Samuel Tarratt Nevill (1837-1921) [2] and was constructed of volcanic Breccia stone to the designs of architect Robert Arthur Lawson (1833-1902) [3].

The donor of the historic Ferguson & Urie stained glass window was John Elmer (1823-1874). Elmer was born in Barking, Essex, England, and was a Master Mariner by profession. He arrived aboard the ‘Thetis’ on the 1st of August 1854 with his wife Rosetta nee-Lovell, a son, and two daughters [4]. He became a landowner in Port Chalmers, Deborah, and Sawyers’ Bay areas and later became a councillor in Port Chalmers [5].

In early 1874 John Elmer commissioned a single light stained glass window depicting the crucifixion, from the North Melbourne stained glass firm Ferguson & Urie. Unfortunately he died at his residence ‘Wickliff Terrace’ at Port Chalmers on the 18th June 1874, aged 55 [6], before the window was to be erected. 

On the 12th April 1875, the New Zealand press reported that the window had been installed and that it was believed to be the first stained glass window erected anywhere in the Anglican Diocese of Dunedin [7].

Photos taken 2nd April 2013 by Cindy Ballantyne. Historical photos with permission Bill & Evelyn Lloyd & the Hocken Library, University of Otago, NZ.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Otago Daily Times , Issue 4102, 12 April 1875, Page 4

“A very beautifully-executed stained glass window has been placed in the Holy Trinity Church, Port Chalmers, and is, we believe the first introduced into any church of the diocese. It was presented to the church by the late Mr Elmer, of Port Chalmers, and was prepared in Melbourne. It is a choice work of art, and is illuminated with a central figure of the Crucifixion, surmounted by the Agnus Dei, with a lower staining of a pelican feeding its young, according to the once vulgarly-received idea, and which has been introduced as typical of Christ’s sacrifice. The illumination forms the central division of the chancel window, and adds greatly to the general effect of the interior of the church.” [8]

The window was erected in the centre of the three light chancel window of Holy Trinity. In March 2013 Mr Bill Lloyd from Port Chalmers provided the following detail from research conducted by his wife Evelyn for the book “Safe Harbour” [9], which was produced to mark the 120th Anniversary of Holy Trinity in 1994:

“Mr John Elmer, had donated a beautiful stained glass window to be placed in the east end of the church but he died in 1874 before this could be carried out. At a vestry meeting on 26th August a motion was passed “that, this vestry sanction the placing of the memorial window in the memory of the late Mr John Elmer as proposed by his executrix (possibly his wife) the said window to occupy the centre light of the three light window in the east end of the church” [10].

“…In 1946, two new pieces of stained glass were placed on either side of the Elmer Window and did not match. A benefactor gave a new matching centre light and the John Elmer window was transferred to the north side window of the chancel, I believe the pelican roundel was removed at this time. Literally nobody knew the window was there[11]. Evelyn the organist became aware of it one Easter morning when the sun shone through the window and cast coloured lights onto the organ as she played. About 2000, the Elmer window was releaded and moved to the north side of the nave at the same time as protective glass was placed over all of the stained glass in the church…”

 “…It would appear that there was no record of its origin, because, at a vestry meeting on 25th September, 1946 “Mr Brown stated that he felt sure that it was a memorial window.”  The lower part of the window (the pelican) was removed and replaced by the dedication “Given by Mr John Elmer, in memory of his mother 1870…” [12].

It’s not known what became of the original lower stained glass piece that depicted the Pelican feeding its young.

John Elmer’s wife, Rosetta, died aged 67 on the 10th August 1887.

Holy Trinity was eventually consecrated on the 6th October 1907 by Bishop Samuel Tarratt Nevill (1837-1921), who also laid the foundation stone of the church 36 years earlier in 1871[13].

Otago Daily Times , Issue 2913, 8 June 1871, Page 5



“The above ceremony took place at Port Chalmers yesterday, at 2 o’clock in the afternoon…”

The Bishop accepted the crown grant of the land and placed a bottle in the cavity of the foundation stone containing a manuscript with the following words:

“…The foundation stone of Holy Trinity Church, Port Chalmers, was solemnly laid on this 7th day of June, in the year of our Lord, 1871, by the Right Reverend Samuel Tarratt Neville, M.A., Lord Bishop of the Diocese of Dunedin…”

Otago Daily Times , Issue 3850, 19 June 1874, Page 2


“On the 18th June, suddenly, at his residence, Wickliff Terrace, Port Chalmers, John Elmer, Esq., aged 55 years.”

Otago Daily Times , Issue 7946, 10 August 1887, Page 2

“ELMER.- On the 13th July, suddenly, at her residence, Wickliffe terrace, Port Chalmers, Mrs Rosetta Elmer, youngest daughter of the late George Lovell, Esq., late of the city of London, widow of the late John Elmer, Esq., and mother of John Elmer, J.P., of this colony; in her 67th year of her age. London papers please copy.”

Otago Witness , Issue 2300, 31 March 1898, Page 11

“Biographical Notes of Settlers of the First Decade…”

“Elmer, John, born Barking, Essex, 1823; was by profession master mariner; arrived by Thetis in 1854; became landowner in Port Chalmers, Deborah, and Sawyers’ Bays. Was councillor Port Chalmers Council. Mr Elmer died June 18, 1874. Elmer, John (son), well known at Port Chalmers (where he was in business for number of years), Waitati, and Dunedin. Mr Elmer died March 3, 1895”.

Otago Daily Times, Issue 14027, 7 October 1907, page 7.


“The consecration of Holy Trinity Church, Port Chalmers, attracted a very large congregation yesterday, the church being crowded. The foundation of he church was laid in 1871 with masonic honours, and the service held yesterday was largely attended by Freemasons in full regalia. The church building having been cleared of debt, was duly consecrated by the primate, Bishop Neville…”


[1] Otago Daily Times, NZ, Issue 2913, 8 June 1871, Page 5

[9] “Safe Harbour”; Evelyn E. Lloyd, Holy Trinity Church (Dunedin, N. Z.), 1994.

[10] “Safe Harbour”; Evelyn E. Lloyd, Holy Trinity Church (Dunedin, N. Z.), 1994.

[11] In reference to the lower ‘Pelican’ at the base of the window which had been hidden by the Reredos for many years.

[12] Email correspondence, Bill Lloyd & Ray Brown, 20 March 2013.

[13] Otago Daily Times, Issue 14027, 7 October 1907, page 7.

Thanks to:

  • Janice Ball for the follow up action in New Zealand.
  • Bill & Evelyn Lloyd, Holy Trinity Port Chalmers, for the correspondence, information, and permission to include the c.1900 interior photo from Evelyn’s 1994 book “Safe Harbour”, and for obtaining the additional photos with permission of the Hocken Library, University of Otago, (permission grant date 8 May 2013). The images included have the required citation.

© Copyright


2 comments on “12-04-1875: Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Port Chalmers, New Zealand.

  1. Hi Errol, I’m still finding clues close to home here which keep popping up now and then which are only an hours drive away. So far you and Janice have found more F&U windows in NZ that have ever been written of or published to date, except here on the Ferguson & Urie site. – Ray

  2. Wow, what a find. Ann and I missed that one. Well done Janice. I could find nothing in the Historic Places records about an F & U window. Now i must go back and check my notes to see what else I have missed. We are busy every day now bringing up young Holly, who is now 13 months old. We are thoroughly enjoying being “parents” again, but it sure is full time. Thanks for all the info Ray, which you keep sending, It is always a pleasure to read.



Comment on this article (or use the contact link above)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s