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The Collegiate Chapel: A special place in the community

The Collegiate School chapel is one of three chapels in New Zealand built for significant boys' private schools. The other two are Christ's College chapel, dating from 1867, and King's College Chapel in Auckland which was completed in 1925 as a WWI memorial; both of these are category I registered historic places. The Collegiate School Chapel is one of the few churches designed by William Gray Young; another dating from the same period is also in Wanganui: St Paul's Presbyterian Church.



A place of real value

The Chapel is highly symbolic, especially to current and past pupils.  Memorials in the Chapel commemorates the role of old boys and masters and their contribution to the school and to New Zealand in times of war.

Wanganui Collegiate School - Early beginnings
Wanganui Collegiate School is Wanganui’s oldest surviving business, having been founded in 1854.  The development of the school in the early years mirrors the development of Wanganui, especially with the growth of the school from the late 1880s onwards. 

The Chapel forms part of a wider historical and cultural landscape
The Chapel is at the heart of the Wanganui Collegiate School, a significant historical and cultural landscape in its own right.  The nearby College Estate, developed to fund the building of the new school, is also an architecturally significant residential area of Wanganui, designed as a “garden suburb” with plans for all houses having to be approved by the chairman of the Whanganui College Board of Trustees before being built.  Most of the houses in the part of the College Estate close to the school and bounded by Liverpool-Grey-College Streets were built in the period from 1914 to the early 1930s.  

Wanganui Collegiate School was developed from the original aims of the Wanganui Industrial School planned in the 1850s to cater for poor children.  Many schools in the early years of European settlement in New Zealand were developed on the lines of English church schools where a Chapel is at the heart of the school. The Chapel and the new school buildings were built at a time when Wanganui was a prosperous and growing town, thus reflecting the development of Wanganui itself, one of New Zealand’s earliest European settlements dating from the early 1840s. 
 
The Chapel's place in New Zealand history
Collegiate school owes its establishment in 1854 to Sir George Grey and Bishop Selwyn, both of whom are remembered in the names of boarding houses.  Local missionary, Revd Richard Taylor, also played a prominent role in identifying the site for the school.
 
The war memorials in the Chapel help to illustrate the part played by old boys and masters, especially in WWI when so many died.  Their contribution is not forgotten today when Anzac Day services at the school remember those who fell in battle.  
 
The Chapel's relationship to tangata whenua
Many Maori boys (and girls) have been pupils at the school, and comprised most of the founding pupils in line with the original Industrial School grant.
 
Where Wanganui Collegiate School and the Chapel fit into the community
The school and Chapel are held in high esteem by Wanganui people, as evidenced by the large numbers who participate in events such as concerts at the Chapel and those who visit the school, museum and Chapel on open days such as those held during the Whanganui Summer Programme.  Many of these people have no direct connections with the school but recognise its importance to Wanganui.
 
A place for public education
The Chapel, with its stained glass windows and other memorials, is often included in heritage events, such as Inspiring Windows during the Glass Festival, giving people the opportunity to learn more about arts and crafts makers, design and architecture.  There is the potential to develop this type of event further, and to include school children in visits.  
 
Architectural significance
The Chapel is a highly accomplished building in terms of its architecture and design.  William Gray Young was a significant architect in the early years of the 20th century and the Chapel is one of the few churches he designed.  The work done to enlarge and strengthen the building in the 1980s is recognised nationally as being significant, which is particularly important in terms of the need to conserve New Zealand’s brick and stone heritage buildings.  The interior furnishings and fittings, especially the carvings by FG Gurnsey and the stained glass windows, are particularly good examples of this type of work. 


 

 

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