Flags of the United States of America and the Second Division Marine Corps Colours, circa 1945
During World War Two, tens of thousands of United States Marines of the First and Second Divisions flooded into New Zealand to train for and recuperate from battles in the Pacific. Many of those marines attended church services at Old St Paul's and befriended local families who opened their homes to the battle weary troops. During their short sojourn a bond was formed between the second division United States Marine Corps and Old St Paul’s which is still highly cherished today. One of those marines recently said: “We had a good time down here. People were decent to us… and that’s something we have never forgotten.”
Upon their departure from New Zealand, Major General Julian C Smith, commander of the second division, presented Old St Paul's with a flag of the United States of America and the Division Colours carried by the Second Division during the war. The flags hang today in a place of pride in the nave of the church, a constant reminder of the events of World War Two and the friendship which links the United States Marine Corps and the people of Wellington.
Carved Oak Pulpit, circa 1908
The ornately carved oak pulpit which stands in the northern transept of Old St Paul’s was donated to the church in 1908 in memory of Richard John Seddon, Premier of New Zealand from 1893 until his death in 1906. It was purchased by Seddon’s widow Louisa with funds raised at a memorial concert performed on a Sunday afternoon in March of 1907, by the “Royal Besses o’ th’ Barn” band of Whitfield, Manchester, who happened to be touring the country in that year.
With the raised funds, an oak pulpit was ordered from Messrs Sandle Bros of London and built by J Wippell & Co, church suppliers of Exeter. Much of the pulpit’s ornate carvings, especially those rendering the Saints Paul, Barnabus, Peter and Mark, were completed by a Mr Sydney Endacott. The completed pulpit was shipped to New Zealand on board the Corinthic, arriving in Wellington in June of 1908.
It has been claimed that the Dominion reported that it was necessary for the church doors to be dismantled and the floor frames removed in order to admit the great pulpit to the church. The pulpit was finally dedicated, on 22 June 1908 by the Right Reverend C Julius, Bishop of Christchurch, just over two years after Seddon’s death and it remains the church to this day, having been moved only once from its original position to accommodate the new organ.
Holy Bible 1844
One of the large bibles held in Old St Paul’s dates back to 1844 and is a memorial to Margaret Stokes, the wife of an early runholder, the Hon. Robert Stokes MLC. The Stokes’ were one of the early settlers of Port Nicholson, in 1844 Robert was the owner of one of the colony’s earliest newspapers the New Zealand Spectator and Cook Straight Guardian. Stokes Valley is also named after the family.
The bible was donated in 1855 to the first St Paul’s church which was located on Museum Street, where the Beehive stands today; one of three books given from the Margaret Stokes Memorial Fund. After the restoration of Old St Paul’s in the late 1960s, the Stokes bible was sent away for repair and subsequently mislaid for some years. A previous curator of Old St Paul’s, Betty Plant, set out to track down the memorial and heard a rumour of a “big old bible” in a house in Seatoun. Following up on the dubious lead, Ms Plant discovered the Stokes Memorial bible being used as a step for the house owners to paint from. Thanks to Betty’s determination the Stokes Memorial bible was rescued from an uncertain fate, restored and returned to Old St Paul’s for the community to appreciate.
Illuminated panels by Charles Decimus Barraud
Adorning both sides of the nave of Old St Pauls are ten illuminated panels, painted by Charles Decimus Barraud (1822-1897) on boards of rimu and kauri. The panels bear coloured text in the style of Italian script of the fourteenth century and quote passages from the Gospel of John and the Book of Psalms. Barraud sailed from England on the Pilgrim, arriving in Wellington in 1849, there he established himself as a chemist with a shop on Lambton Quay.
Although being highly involved in his shop and the formation of the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand, Barraud found time to pursue his interest in painting and gained early recognition as an artist in New Zealand. Especially famous is his painting of The Baptism of the Maori Chief Te Puni at Otaki Church.
In addition to his contributions to art and the New Zealand pharmaceutical industry, Barraud was chairman of the Wellington Sailor’s rest and treasurer of the Wellington Hospital Convalescent Fund. He was also a churchwarden and vestryman at Old St Paul’s, during which time he made the illuminated panels. Upon his death in 1897, Barraud was interred in the Bolton Street cemetery after a funeral service at Old St Paul’s.