1875: St Peter’s Anglican Church, Akaroa, New Zealand.

St Peter’s Anglican Church in Akaroa contains one of only five rare examples of Ferguson & Urie stained glass found in New Zealand to date.

The window in St Peter’s was erected circa 1877 in the east sanctuary as a memorial to two young men, C. Allan Nalder a Solicitor, and Randal Sayle a district surveyor, who both drowned as a result of a boating accident when their yacht “Ripple” capsized in Tikau Bay on the 12th January 1875.

Photos taken 2nd October 2010 and kindly contributed by Errol Vincent, NZ.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

[View larger images]

The first Anglican Church at Akaroa was built c.1852 in Church street to the designs of Samuel Charles Farr (1827-1918). Circa 1863, the Resident Magistrate at Akaroa, John Watson[1], donated the land for the new Church at Rue Balguerie, Akaroa, and builders Checkley, Bates and Newton began construction of St Peter’s in 1863. It was consecrated by the Bishop of Christchurch, Henry John Chitty Harper (1804-1893), on the 27th November 1864[2].

In response to the need for more room, in 1876 architects Cane and Drewett (Thomas Cane 1830-1905 & John W. Drewett) presented the plans for the enlargement of the church, which included transepts and extended sanctuary, and on completion of these extensions it was officially re-opened for services on St Mark’s day on the 25th April 1877[3].

In relation to the date the Ferguson & Urie window was erected, noted historian Dr Fiona Ciaran records that the following was reported in the Lyttelton Times of 1875:

“…The LT records the studio and the arrival of the window [(6 April 1875, p2]…”[4]

In April 1877, two years after the arrival of the window, a statement of subscriptions and expenditure was published with mention of an amount paid to Ferguson & Urie:

Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Vol 1, Issue 78, 17th April 1877, page 3.

“…Paid Ferguson and Urie…£46-3-1…”

Transcriptions of some significant source records:

Colonist [NZ], Volume 1861, issue 1861, 12 January 1875, page 3.


“Mr. Randall Sayle, late of Nelson, was drowned on Saturday afternoon, at Akaroa, during a trial trip of the yacht Ripple, which he had just purchased. Mr Nalder, junior, a lawyer, was also drowned. A squall struck the yacht, which sank in deep water”.

Star, [NZ] Issue 2133, 12 January 1875, page 2.


“The following is a detailed account of this sad accident, of which a brief telegraphic account was published yesterday.
As has been already stated, the yacht Ripple, which was built at Port Chalmers, was brought to Lyttelton to compete at the late regatta in the yacht race, which she won. Mr Sayle, who was at the regatta as captain of the Akaroa four-oar crew, taking a fancy to the yacht negotiated for and purchased her, got her unrigged and sent down to Akaroa by the Bruce on Jan. 7. The day following her arrival at Akaroa, Mr Sims, one of the survivors of the accident, commenced to re-rig her, and finished his work on the morning of the 9th. Mr Sayle was very anxious and excited to get the work done so that he could have a trial trip of his purchase, and, accordingly, in the afternoon, himself, Mr C. Allan Nalder, Mr A. Westenra of the bank of New Zealand, and Mr W. Sims started for a cruise. The yacht was narrowly watched at starting and for some time afterwards by different persons on shore as she appeared to some who understood those matters not so stiff under canvas as she had been represented to be. At starting, two reefs were taken in the mainsail, and, subsequently, another one, the jib being also replaced by a smaller sail. The wind at the time was from the north-east, blowing rather gustily and fresh on the Akaroa side of the bay; on the opposite side it appeared as if the wind was stronger. The first part of the cruise was run down the harbour past the buoy of Green’s point, then a tack was made to winward, when the yacht fetched near Tikau Bay, she was then again put about. Mr Sayle was at the tiller and holding the main-sheet in his hand, when Mr Sims, noticing that she was heeling over too much, called out to Mr Sayle to let go of the sheet. As this was not done, Mr Sims twice more made the same request, but Mr Sayle was as one paralysed, looking at the others, but apparently unable to do what was required of him. The vessel heeling over more, the ballast shifted, and the yacht immediately filled and went down at, about a mile from the shore, in some six fathoms of water. The four, who were all swimmers, having got clear of the vortex caused by the sinking vessel, at once struck out for the shore. Mr Westenra and Mr Nalder being near each other, and Mr Sims and Mr Sayle a little distance from them. As they swam, Mr Nalder addressed Mr Westenra more than once, and wished he could get his coat off, which Mr Westenra told him was impossible, but kept cheering him up with hopes of their reaching shore safely. Mr Westenra supposes they must have swam nearly half way to shore when he heard a call from his fellow swimmer. He turned round and found he was alone, Mr Nalder having sunk to rise no more. At this time the beach was not to be seen, but struggling on, Mr Westenra at last reached the shore, exhausted and almost insensible. In the meantime, Mr Sims had kept near Mr Sayle, and they had been swimming some time, when Mr Sims noticed his companion apparently losing strength, and faltering and saying that he was afraid he could not keep on. Mr Sims then swam behind him, and catching hold of the serge coat which Mr Sayle wore, held him up whilst still swimming toward the shore, until he found they were both sinking, and that unless he let go, they must both go down together. Thoroughly exhausted, but reluctantly, Mr Sims let go his hold, and shortly afterwards Mr Sayle must have sunk. At this time, Mr Sims knew nothing of the others. He had heard a cry which he thought came from Mr Nalder, but whether it was of encouragement or despair he could not tell. Resting a little, and getting himself free from his boots, he again commenced swimming towards shore, which he ultimately, with great difficulty reached, and there found Mr Westenra. After taking off and wringing their clothes, they started for the Maori pah, and when on the hill, they noticed that Mr Bridge’s yacht, the Scud, had started from Akaroa, and was making for the scene of the accident. The Maoris treated them very kindly and hospitably, making them tea, and wanting them to change their clothes, which both declined to do; the Natives volunteered also to take them to Akaroa in a dingy. A fire was then lit to draw attention of those on board the Scud, but, owing to the peculiar haziness of the atmosphere, it could not be seen. However, the Natives getting out their dingy, took them, and, succeeding in drawing attention, put them safely on board. Mr Nalder was well known throughout the province, but Mr Sayle was not so well known. Both gentlemen were single, and the latter held the appointment of district surveyor at Akaroa. The fatality occurred about five o’clock in the evening, and, when known, caused quite a consternation in Akaroa, both gentlemen being held in more than ordinary esteem and respect.”

Lyttelton Times [NZ], Volume XXII, issue 1325, 1 December 1864, page 4.


On Sunday morning, the 27th day of November, the Bishop of Christchurch was met at the usual hour for divine service by the minister, churchwardens, and some of the inhabitants of Akaroa after the form prescribed, when the Rev. William Aylmer, M.A., the incumbent, read the petition praying his Lordship to consecrate their building, to which petition, consent was given according to the prayer therein contained. The ceremony of consecration and the dedication immediately followed. The Bishop having received the instrument of conveyance, presented to him, by which we learnt that the area of ground upon which the church was erected had been the gift of Mr. John Watson, the Resident Magistrate at Akaroa, declared the same to be dedicated to the use of the Episcopal Church, and henceforth to be known by the style of St. Peter. Being the first Sunday in Advent the psalms and Lessons for that day were read instead of those usually chosen at a consecration in this diocese; the second Lesson, containing the narrative of the cleansing of the Temple by our Redeemer. His Lordship afterwards preached from Matthew ix. Chapter and 29th verse – “According to your faith, be it unto you.” His sermon was a plain, but forcible explanation of the nature and quality of a saving faith, remarkable for the earnest tone in which he strove to bring home the necessity of such a faith to his hearer’s apprehension while he dwelt strongly upon the privileges which they would henceforth enjoy in making public prayer and supplication unitedly to Him who had promised that wheresoever two or three were met together there to be present with them. After the conclusion of the sermon, the Holy Communion was administered. The choir had prepared a musical treat, and sang Jackson’s noble Te Deum in F – in a manner which, if it left anything open to regret, was only that so inspiring a composition should not be the rule instead of the exception. The chants and hymns chosen for the day, were also well sung – the congregation joining throughout, intelligibly bearing their part in the service. After evening service, the Bishop administered the rite of confirmation, and addressed in his happy, affectionate, and impressive manner, those upon whom he had laid his hands, exhorting them, and all those who had preceded them, to help one another to fight the good fight and never be ashamed of he glorious calling whereunto they had been called. If another regret again obtruded, it was only that his Lordship was not able to be a more frequent visitor to the district of Akaroa.”

Akaroa Mail &Banks Peninsula Advertiser [NZ], Vol VII, Issue 704, 13 April 1883, page 2


On the authority of a letter received by the last mail from England, we hear from Mr. A. H. Westenra of the decease of Mr John Watson, for many years the Resident Magistrate of Akaroa, and for some years the only Stipendiary magistrate in all of what is now Canterbury. It appears almost like going back to pre-historic times to write of the deceased gentleman, and his connection with Akaroa and the public service of the Colony, more especially, too, as but few who are now among us had the opportunity of hearing from his own lips the reminiscences of his earlier Colonial career.
From what we remember and have heard of our deceased fellow-colonist and former kindly neighbour, we understand that he was born at Ballydarton, in the County of Carlow, Ireland, his father being John Watson, Esq., who was then considered the first and best master of foxhounds in the United Kingdom[5]. This love of sport and horsemanship has descended, the present master of the Melbourne pack, which position he has honourably held for many years, being a half brother[6] of the deceased; while every old Akaronian must well remember the late gentleman’s pride in horses, even to breaking them in, the last one, we believe, that he owned and broke here being a horse named by him Blarney.
Mr Watson, we believe, came to this colony in November or December, 1843, with Captain – afterwards Admiral – Fitzroy, but in what capacity we do not know. It is a matter of colonial history that he distinguished himself at Kororareka, in the Bay of Islands, at the contest with the then redoubtable chief Heki. Shortly after this he must have been sent to Akaroa, succeeding Mr C. B. Robinson, the first R.M. here. From that date until 1869 or ’70 Mr Watson was one of us, strict in his duties and straightforward in his intentions, Like other men, he had his official peculiarities, but for unostentatious kindness, in which his widow was always a ready and eager helper, and more than aid, his name was in those days proverbial. The site of St. Peter’s Church section was a present from the deceased gentleman, who always, while he was amongst us, took a deep interest in Church matters, and otherwise interested himself in the advancement of the town and district; in fact, his and Mrs Watson’s aid and advocacy, combined with the Rev. W. Aylmer’s efforts, resulted in the present Church being built. Many and very many of the “old identities” of this district will be very sorry to read of Mr’s Watson’s bereavement, and though she is far away will still sympathise with her as a friend, although out of sight, but not out of mind to them. Most of us know that although a non resident the deceased gentleman still held property among us, notably the residence or Mr H. C. Jacobson, and a freehold on the German Bay hill. To quote Mrs Hemans:-

“Leaves have their time to fall, And flowers wither at the North wind’s breath, And stars to set; but all Thou hast all seasons for thine own, O Death!”

Stained Glass windows of Canterbury, New Zealand, Ciaran, Fiona. Dunedin, N.Z.: University of Otago Press, 1998, p153.

W370. E sanctuary, 3L, 2740mm x 1630mm.
The Risen Christ Blessing in Majesty.
[Ferguson, Urie, and Lyon, Melbourne].

Undated: 1875.
Commemoration: C. Allan Nalder and G.R.F. Sayle, drowned in Akaroa Harbour, 9 Jan 1875 [plaque]. Both worked in Akaroa, Nalder as a solicitor and Sayle as a surveyor [MDCB N3, S74].
Donor: Public subscription.
Documentation: The LT records the studio and the arrival of the window [(6 April 1875, p2]. NZCN reported that more money was needed for the window which would cost approximately £60 [5, no. 9 (July 1875), p.103]. At a vestry meeting on 29 Sept 1877, which he attended while on a visit to the parish, Bp Harper noted that this window had been installed without a faculty. A formal request for a faculty was to be made [VMB (unpaginated)], but there is no faculty entry in the BR.
Note: This window may have been obtained from this studio as a result of an advertisement first placed by Ferguson, Urie and Lyon in NZCN, 1, no 5 (Feb 1871), p.16.”

(Abbreviations: BR: Christ Church Anglican Bishop’s Register. NZCN: New Zealand Church News. MDCB: Macdonald Dictionary of New Zealand Biographies. LT: Lyttelton Times. VMB: Vestry Minute Book).


[1] Akaroa Mail &Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Vol VII, Issue 704, 13 April 1883, page 2

[6] George John Watson (1829-1906)


Thanks to Errol Vincent for contributing the photos and for his and Ann’s enthusiasm for the history.  Errol is a great great grandson of James Ferguson of the stained glass firm ‘Ferguson & Urie’.

Thanks to Dr. Fiona Ciaran for signing my copy of her book ;-), ‘Stained Glass windows of Canterbury, New Zealand,’ which has been an invaluable resource for this article.

© Copyright


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 )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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 )


Connecting to %s