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Waimate district is fortunate to have a number of Historic Churches displaying beauty and Edwardian charm. Below are a few of these churches and interesting historic details.
St Patrick's Catholic Church
Built in 1908 and opened on 24 October 1909. The rose window at the front of the church measures 14ft in diameter. The three bells in the tower were cast in Belgium—the largest weighs 15cwt (3/4 ton), the other two 10cwt (1/2 ton). The church was renovated in 1954. The fourteen "Stations of the Cross" paintings are originally from St Mary's Church at Makikihi. Hannah is the name that was given to the magnificent pipe organ. This church replaced the original, built in 1876 of heart timber milled in the Waimate bush. It was moved to Washdyke in 1934 and is still there.
Knox Presbyterian Church
The first church was built in 1874, was of wood in Gothic form and was built on this site. It was demolished in 1933 to make way for the present church, built 1934, 60 years to the day from the laying of the foundation stone of the old church—12 March 1874. The foundation stone of the old church is set in the wall at the back of the apse. Most of the stone for the church was taken from the river bed near McCulloch's Bridge, with the inclusion also of stone from the Waituna and Hook districts served by the church. The communion table, made from selected wood, the timber in the roof of the apse, also the rafting were preserved from the old church. The two memorial windows in the front of the church and the circular window above them, the pipe organ, as well as the bell tower that can be seen at the top of Manse Street are also from the old church.
St Paul's Methodist Church
The church was built in 1887 and opened in 1888 and is the third to be built. The first, called St Paul's Wesleyan Church, erected 1876, was a small wooden building in Queen Street. It was also the first church in Waimate and was used by Anglican's and Presbyterian's before they had churches of their own. This was later used as a school and Sunday School. A large stone was built in 1877 next to the school room and opened on 24 June 1880. Both of these buildings were burnt down in April 1886. The Church Hall originally belonged to the Temperance Society and was purchased when the other buildings were burnt down and is still used as a Sunday School.
St Augustine's Anglican Church
The land for the church was given by Michael Studholme. Built in 1872 by Messrs Gaitt and Dickson and constructed on local timber. It is dedicated to St Augustine of Canterbury. In 1880 the lantern tower was built, then in 1902 the Lych Gate, unusual for New Zealand, was given by Mrs Michael Studholme in memory of her husband and their two sons. There are two windows designed and manufactured by the English firm of Morris & Co, it is believed that there are only three other churches in New Zealand that have their windows (eight windows in all). The window on the north side of the Sanctuary depicts Sir Galahad's vision of the Holy Grail, installed 1926. The window depicts Christ in the house of Martha, installed 1931. (Unique as windows in New Zealand). On 10 June 1923 Archdeacon J A Julius laid a foundation stone for a new church, however, the new church consisted of only the chancel and sanctuary built onto the old building which was to have been later replaced, but was not.
St Mary's Church (Anglican)
Church Hill Road off Esk Valley Road
One of the loveliest of South Canterbury's churches. St Mary's Esk Valley was designed by the Christchurch architect B.W. Mountford and built of limestone from the Albury district. The church had its origins in tragedy. In 1878 Ellen, the young wife of Charles Meyer, owner of Blue Cliffs Station, died following an opertion. After the death, Charles Meyer instructed his trustees to build the little stone church to fulfill his wife's wish and to her memory. The church was consecrated in May 1880 by Bishop Harper. The interior is rich with colour from windows dedicated to members of some of the early settler families in the district.
Salvation Army Citadel
Opened in 1973 by the Rt Hon Norman Kirk. This is the third structure to have been built. The first, built in 1884, destroyed by fire in 1901, the second, built 1901. An amusing story in the history of the Salvation Army is that in 1884, the corps were marching up Queen Street when the Captain and Sergeant Major were charged with obstructing the thoroughfare and the Sergeant Majors daughter was charged for beating a tambourine. The case went to court, the charge against the daughter was dropped, but the Magistrate fined the Captain and Sergeant 2 pound 10 shillings. They refused to pay, so they were arrested and given 14 days hard labour in Timaru Jail.