Church History

St Paul’s Church, Glenmark, was built and paid for by Annie Quayle Townend, daughter of Glenmark farmer George Henry Moore (1812-1905), in his memory. Mrs Annie Townend contracted Mr W Goss to build the church, designed by A H Hart. The Glenmark Church foundation stone was laid in January 1906 and dedicated by the Anglican Bishop, Churchill Julius, on 10 October 1907. A special train travelled from Christchurch carrying the Bishop, Diocesan clergy and the Cathedral choir for the opening.

The church is a fine English-style edifice with a tile roof. Built with stones from the Waipara river, Oamaru stone and brick, with kauri and rimu timber inside. The well proportioned interior has seating for 200. No expense was spared, with everything of the best quality.

She provided sufficient money for the running of the church, for the wages of the maids in the 12-room vicarage with servants quarters, gardeners and organists to be brought up to Glenmark church each weekend. An endowment was also set up from which the interest paid the stipends of the vicars. The Omihi residents gave a small stained-glass window in the nave as a mark of their appreciation of the ‘beneficence shown to their needs by Mrs Townend’. In the tower is a peal of tubular eight bells on which tunes are chimed for weddings, Christmas and special occasions. They are believed to be the only set in New Zealand of this type.

George Henry Moore owned the Glenmark Station and at one time he was believed to be the richest man in the land. The Glenmark Station in its heyday covered 150,000 acres (60,750 hectares) and ran up to 100,000 sheep. Annie was possibly the richest woman in New Zealand having inherited her fortune from her father. The church is also a memorial to her husband, Dr Joseph Townend, whom she had married secretly later in life, but he died two years later. Her father never knew of this marriage as he believed all suitors were after her money. Annie had already given three acres of land for a cemetery that adjoins the local domain which she had also donated to the community.

One of Annie Townend’s town residences is the well known Mona Vale, bought by her as a widow in 1905. She then built the Mona Vale gatekeeper’s lodge in a similar style to the mansion at Glenmark which was built in 1876 and destroyed by fire in 1890.

Previous earthquake strengthening and restoration was done in recent years to St Paul’s, Glenmark, costing over $200,000, but the earthquake of 4 September 2010 caused repairable structural damage. Fundraising is now the focus to restore this historic icon Church to its former glory for the use and enjoyment of present and past parishioners, and supporters.

MOORE OF GLENMARK: THE RICHEST MAN IN THE LAND by David Gee and Herbert Farrant, 2006
ST PAUL’S GLENMARK: 1906-2006, a centennial booklet by Glenmark Church Committee, 2007.