In the township of Woodbury, just a few kilometres from Geraldine, you will find a beautiful Anglican church nestled into a yard surrounded by some large trees and a lawn. It is enclosed by a handsome stone and boulder wall with charming wooden gates along both road frontages. Some recent pruning suggests there are not as many trees as there once were and this opens up views of the church nicely.
In November, 1877 a public meeting to consider the erection of a church was held and by March 1879, St Thomas's Church was completed and consecrated by the Bishop of Christchurch.
Tripp is a familiar name in Woodbury. A well-known pioneer family whose descendants came to New Zealand in 1855, they settled in the area and made their home at Orari Gorge Station. Descendants of the family still live there today.
This original part of the church was constructed of wood on concrete foundations and its form reflects the Norman style of architecture commonly used in churches about Devon, England, where the Tripps emigrated from.
A chancel and tower were added in 1926 made of local stone and attached to the old wooden building. The large tower was named as a memorial to Charles George and Ellen Shephard Tripp and the Nave, built in 1938, was named for his children, Charles Howard and Eleanor Howard Tripp. It was designed by Cecil Wood and completed by local builders, Herbert Cooling and Oswald Scott of Woodbury.
Oak for the carved furniture and for memorial tablets is from the Tripp homestead at Orari Gorge. Building materials feature local stones and boulders, as do many of these local memorial churches. The roof is of purple hued Welsh slate. The church also features seven beautiful stained glass lancet windows.
Wonderful destination for a Sunday drive or to attend a service, I understand the church is open to be viewed by passers-by and friendly visitors alike.
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