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Fitzgerald's Town

The Presbyterians

The Presbyterians William and Mary Tod came to live in the district in 1858 when William took up 200 acres, designated Rural Section 1483, as a Crown Grant and formerly part of Springs Run. The Tod house and farm buildings were located on the farm until recently known as Rosemerryn on the eastern outskirts of Lincoln and now under development as a residential area. The Tods knew the value of education and set aside a room in their home for use as a school and doubtless also for church services. Although the first Presbyterian Church in the district was built at Prebbleton, then headquarters for the local Presbyterian community, the Lincoln congregation was the first to build a church in the township. It was built on two acres of land designated as “Scotch Reserve” (Fig. a) and donated by FitzGerald from Rural Section 1532 which he bought about a year after the Lincoln subdivision. In 1864 the two acres were vested in three church trustees. They were the Revd. Charles Fraser of St. Andrew’s parish in Christchurch of which Lincoln was a part, and two farmers, William Tod and Richard Wright. When the church was built in 1866 the parish stretched from Prebbleton, still local headquarters, to Southbridge, and was under the charge of the Revd. John Campbell, later the first rector of Christchurch Boys’ High School. 11 At that time the manse and church in Prebbleton were next to the Presbyterian cemetery now known as Prebbleton cemetery. Although well used and kept in good repair, the Lincoln church and its surroundings must have looked untidy and the building itself was probably cold in winter for the Revd. Campbell reported that it “required lining and painting, and the ground wanted fencing and planting”. 12 These remarks prompted quick action for in July the finance committee decided to line the church and to raise money for improving the grounds. There were to be new posts and gates and there were about 10 chains of fencing to be erected. However, like many churches built around this time it was soon too small for the growing congregation and at a meeting on 8 October 1878 a committee was set up to explore the idea of selling the existing building and erecting a new church on the same site. 108

40. Presbyterian Church, now Union Church, James Street and East Belt. Plans were completed in 1881. The church was designed to accommodate 200 people at an estimated cost of 747 pounds 12 shillings and 6 pence for the building, furniture and fittings; the contract was let to local builder D. W. Bartram. Finally, on December 23, the foundation stone was laid by Dr Thomas Guthrie, the local doctor, who in declaring it “well and truly laid” thanked the gathering for the honour of doing so, and referred “to the hopeful state of the congregation and the catholic character of the services”. 13 During the ceremony copies of the Lyttelton Times, The Press, the New Zealand Presbyterian News, and the Christian Record were placed under the stone and a silver trowel was presented to Dr Guthrie in honour of the occasion and as an indication of his standing in the local community. Part of the day’s programme is reproduced on page 8 of the parish history “The First Hundred Years”. Six months later the opening services were conducted by the Rev. J. Elmslie. The weather was fine, and the church, full in the morning, was crowded for the evening service; the sermons for the day reflected on the essentials of a prosperous congregation 109

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