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Eskdale War Memorial Church

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Eskdale War Memorial Church, a handsome Arts and Craft style church on the Taupo road north of Napier, was dedicated on 3 December 1920. The interdenominational church was built and furnished by local landowner Thomas Clark and his daughter Annie in memory of Annie’s husband, Lieutenant Percival Moore Beattie, who had been killed in action at Le Quesnoy on 4 November 1918. 

Two granite commemorative tablets were installed in the church. One recorded the dedication ('THIS CHURCH WAS ERECTED / BY / THOMAS CLARK / AND HIS DAUGHTER / ANNIE HENRIETTA BEATTIE / IN MEMORY OF / PERCIVAL MOORE BEATTIE / DEDICATED DECEMBER 3 1920'). The other was a district roll of honour listing all the names of the 27 men from the district who had lost their lives ('This Church is erected to the Glory of God and / - / IN LOVING MEMORY OF / PERCIVAL MOORE BEATTIE / 2ND. LIEUT. N.Z.R.B. / KILLED IN ACTION AT LE QUESNOY ON NOV. 4[th] 1918. /  ALSO IN GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE OF ALL WHO GAVE / THEIR LIVES FOR US IN THE GREAT WAR, ESPECIALLY / THOSE FROM THIS DISTRICT [.....]').

Over the years, various mementoes of Lieutenant Beattie’s service, including the wooden cross that originally marked his grave in France, were put on display in the church foyer.

On Anzac Day 1928 a French regimental flag was installed in the nave. This was accompanied by a brass plaque inscribed: THE ABOVE REGIMENTAL FLAG WAS PRESENTED TO / THE ESKDALE MEMORIAL CHURCH BY THE GOVERNMENT / OF FRANCE IN MEMORY OF NEW ZEALANDERS WHO / FOUGHT SIDE BY SIDE WITH THE FRENCH DURING / THE GREAT WAR 1914-1918.

On 27 April 1947 a memorial tablet was unveiled in honour of the six men from Eskdale and Bayview and the six old boys of France House (a nearby residential home) who gave their lives during the Second World War. The church also displays a tablet dedicated to the memory of  Marcus G. Smith, killed at El Alamein on 16 July 1942.

The design of the church has usually been credited to the well-known Arts and Craft architect James Chapman-Taylor (1878-1958). However, the church's own website suggests instead that it was the work of the today lesser-known Walter Philip Finch (1890-1972). The church was badly damaged in the Hawke’s Bay earthquake of February 1931, but was reopened after restoration and strengthening on 27 September 1931. It was inundated by floods but again restored in both 1938 and 2023.

Sources: 'Eskdale memorial: dedication of church', Hawkes Bay Tribune, 4/12/1920, p. 3; 'In commemoration', Hawkes Bay Tribune, 26/4/1928, p. 6; ‘Eskdale War Memorial Church’ [framed information sheet displayed in the church], n.d.); Linda Burgess, Historic Churches, Auckland, 2015, pp. 116-119; Bill McKay and Linda Burgess, Worship: A History of New Zealand Church Design, Auckland, 2015, pp. 164-7; Matt Philp, 'Beacon of hope', Heritage New Zealand, no. 172, Autumn 2024, pp. 16-21

Credit

Main image: Jock Phillips and Chris Maclean, c. 1986
Other images and text: Bruce Ringer, 2016, 2018 and 2024

How to cite this page

Eskdale War Memorial Church, URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/memorial/eskdale-church-war-memorial, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated


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