St Mary's Church memorials, Timaru

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After the Great War, the parishioners of St Mary’s Anglican Church, Timaru, first considered erecting a war memorial porch or war memorial baptistery, but eventually decided to install a memorial tablet instead. The church’s First World War Shrine of Remembrance, a substantial and finely carved marble and alabaster tablet set into the western wall of the nave, was dedicated on 1 December 1921. It incorporated a roll of honour listing the names of 73 former members of the congregation who had given their lives.

In 1942 it was decided to furnish the ‘Lady Chapel’ at the south-eastern end of the church as a war memorial and a thanks-offering for peace. The chapel, renamed the Chapel of St Michael and All Angels, was dedicated on 29 June 1953, along with a Shrine of Remembrance and war memorial window. The shrine forms part of the carved oak screen set between the chapel and the chancel, and incorporates the parish’s Second World War roll of honour. This lists another 44 names.

The stained glass war memorial window is set into the opposite wall of the chapel. The three-light window commemorates the fallen of both world wars. A bronze tablet records that the central light was a gift from the citizens of the Borough of Worthing, in Sussex, England, as an expression of goodwill towards the citizens of Timaru. (Timaru had supplied Worthing with food parcels at a time of shortage after the Second World War.)

The small plaque below this was presented by the Canterbury Brevet Club to honour airmen from South Canterbury and North Otago who served during the war.

The church also has several individual wartime memorials (not pictured here): brass plaques  installed in memory of Lieutenant-Colonel C. Ernest Thomas, who was killed at the Dardanelles on 28 August 1915 and Lieutenant F.B.H. Guinness, also killed at the Dardanelles on 25 August 1915; and the Ritchie memorial window in the chapel, which is dedicated to the memory of William Traill and Dorothy Cecil Ritchie and their son Dennis Gordon Allwright Ritchie, who died on 28 November 1944 while serving in the RNZAF.

Sources: Harold W. Monagan, A Joy for Ever: St Mary’s Parish Church, Timaru, Wellington, 1945, pp. 51, 64; ‘Dedication of Memorial at St Mary’s, Timaru’, Church & People, vol 8, no. 7, 1 August 1953, p. 11; John Button, Love and Faithfulness: Stories of St Mary’s, Timaru, 1860-2010, Timaru, 2010, pp. 64-5, 702, 801, 105-9.

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