Tag Archives: school

What you need to get your church moving….

We have been for a Sunday Drive and seen many sights: daffodils; cherry blossom; dogs; a river; blue sky and “A What you need to get your church moving”. Which is this; a TITAN

A Titan for the Task

A Titan for the Task

which is yellow and sturdy and very tall…..

In January this year, I wrote a post about a little chapel called St Saviour’s. You can see the post Here. I told some of the history of the chapel and explained that  the chapel would soon be returned to its original home town, Lyttelton. Turns out that the ‘soon’ is now.

Although the Titan  was having a Sunday rest, it has obviously been busy. Here is how the Chapel looked when I saw it earlier in the year. It was boarded up and ready to go.

St Saviour's

St Saviour’s

Here is how it looked today

St Saviour's is Going

St Saviour’s is Going

Although St Saviour’s is obviously on the move, I can’t find any information on whether it is being moved via a land route or by barge. I did discover an article on some of the costs involved in the Chapel’s relocation and restoration http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/hills-and-harbour/8963217/Historic-St-Saviours-chapel-granted-143k  However it is travelling, I hope it will soon be  put together again because, right now, it looks very uncomfortable and undignified, and dishevelled. Not unlike we get when we are on a difficult and long journey, especially if we are no longer as young and spritely as we once were 🙂

© silkannthreades

Canada Dreaming

Where do you sail?

Where do you sail?

Although I grew up  on a very little island, my life was far from little or insular. I am not sure how the term insular came in to being because most island life, it seems to me, is  exposed to the comings and goings of the wider world.  It is in the very nature of an island to be outward looking; with eyes always turned to the horizon at sea and minds dreaming of what lies beyond.

Some  of my childhood dreams revolved around a huge country, namely Canada.  My dreaming was  influenced by a book we had, at home, about a modern (1960s!) Canadian family exploring their own country. The book had a stunning photo of what I thought must be the most beautiful lake in the world, Lake Louise. And I yearned to be like that travelling family, standing by that lake, breathing in the beauty of Canada.

My yearning and dreaming, and, most likely, some suggesting to my parents that we take our next holiday in Canada, came to nought. Nought, that is, unless I count my greatest (ever!) school project, entitled Canada. I completed this ‘master’work  during my last year at elementary school, when  I was about 11 years old.  I remember the hours I spent on it; the careful penmanship, the drawings, the maps, the frustration of the maple leaf  that refused to be drawn correctly; the beautifully straight, ruled lines I made across the pages. Ah, it was a labour of love; and  a labour of  heavily plagiarized content, as well. References, or sources, were not part of a school project in those far off days 🙂

Maybe the project lacked originality, but I adored it, and have kept it safe for more than forty years. Like me, it has travelled the world and rested in many homes. Unlike me, it has stayed in good physical shape and, apart from some discolouration and a few loose pages, it is much the same as on the day I finished it.

Here is a glimpse of the project. As you look at the slide show, imagine a young girl, in an old, wooden classroom, in a little sugar industry town, on a small island in the large Pacific Ocean, studiously and carefully  recreating  the story of Canada. And, for extra fun, imagine also that maybe, just maybe, that circa 1968, there was, in the middle of Canada, on a deeply snowy day, a young person dreaming and writing about small islands in the far Pacific, for I am sure there was one such child.

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Did you look carefully at the brochure   for the Canadian Pacific Railway trains? I put it  in my project because I thought those scenes  were the epitome of elegance and luxury.

Note: to  11 year  old self….how could you do this?????

Erratum required

Erratum required

© silkannthreades

Gathering stories at the modern hearth

In some traditions, winter is a time for families to gather round the hearth and sing and tell, and retell, their stories. It is winter here and, appropriately,  I am busy  recounting, recording and researching family history,  stories, myths and legends. It is fascinating ‘work’, but very exhausting for a scatterbrain, like myself, who has a disinclination for the orderliness and systemic approach needed for successful genealogical study. What that means is that I keep forgetting names and dates and things like which person is my great-aunt and which person is my great- aunt’s second husband’s brother.

Anyway, I do the best I can, and hope that great-aunt’s second husband’s brother, dead for ever so many years, will forgive me 🙂

As I find information, I tell it to my family. Some of my regular followers may remember that I am the only one of my family in Christchurch. The rest of my immediate family live across the ditch, better known as the Tasman Sea, in Australia. So, for story telling, we cannot gather round a true hearth. Instead, we gaze in to the glow of our individual computer screens, and the investigation and celebration of our common narrative begins. (We would do Skype video if our broadband were faster and cheaper! ) There is laughter and sadness  and a plethora of memories, and, sometimes, as we chat, we gain new insights and knowledge. Other times, we become confused and lost in trying to understand the whys and wherefores of  our family roots.

Here is a typical Skype conversation of an evening. This one concerns a death notice I found for our great great grandmother who was referred to as a relict.

“[31/07/2013 12:56:52 a.m.] Sister: i like in the papers past the death notice “a relict of”
 Me: yes
 Me: yes
 Sister: it sounds like a relic
Me: it is
Me: it means a left over
Me: a relic
Sister: like u r old and left over frm thr couple that was
Me: a remnanat

Sister: heheeheh

Me: remnant
Me: also widow, or dowager
Sister: omg it really truely means it
Sister: hilar
Me: Ye s\
Me: hilair

Sister: okgtb
[31/07/2013 12:58:29 a.m.] Sister : nite nite”

The conversation happens after midnight, my time, and has no regard for grammar, for punctuation or for spelling; it is free-form, as if we truly were side by side discussing our latest find in the family story.

Here is another story time from our modern-day hearth, the computer screen. This time, my mother and I are engaged in a tale of her meeting with royalty.

“[25/07/2013 9:41:54 p.m.]  My Mother:  you all know the story of how I was introduced to Lord  Louis ofcourse
Me: You can tell me again
Me: because I probably don’t remember it properly
My Mother: well Gwen was sick and Uncle Ernie decided to take me along to the Civic Reception for the Mountbattens ,I was introduced and Lord M gave my hand a shake   very Royal  it was all over very Quickly really I think they were on their way back to England
Me: What did you wear?
My Mother: probably my best dress it wasnt an evening affair
Me: what was your best dress? Do you remember? Did you need gloves and a hat?
Me: It must have been a quiet visit to Christchurch because nothing is coming up about it on the internet
My Mother: No Ithink it was rather informal really and very short Idont recall my dress  or having hat or gloves”

And thus the conversation went, and the strands of family history were considered and sorted and reworked, much as though we were by the fireside of old, working together on the spinning and weaving of sturdy, new cloth  to keep us warm in the days ahead . Through some further investigation on my part, I was able to tell my mother, later, that the Mountbattens made a fleeting  visit to Christchurch in 1946. And we, my mother and I, went on to recall the time she and my father  met Queen Elizabeth, on a walkabout,  in Christchurch in 2002.

Much of my mother’s Christchurch, the physical structure of it, was destroyed by the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.  The churches she knew, the schools she went to; all rubble.  However, I was very pleased to be able to tell her, from my recent family research,  that the home where she spent the first  years of her life is still standing. As is the adjacent building which was her father’s first shop in Christchurch. The building, which is currently home to a hairdressing business, is being repaired and strengthened to new earthquake standards. So not all is lost to time, and, just to be sure this piece of our history will be around for future story telling and reminiscing, I took some photos and uploaded them to the web, my flash drive and my external hard drive.

© silkannthreades

A great little gift

The other day, when I was visiting my Tulip Tree ( Me, the Tree, and Helen)  at the former site of Helen Connon Hall, I decided it would also be a suitable hour  to say goodbye to the adjacent St Saviour’s Chapel, where we held our church service during the Reunion weekend in October 2000. St Saviour’s Chapel is about to  embark on  yet another voyage, and must be the most travelled chapel I have ever met.

St Saviours Chapel was originally built for, and located in, the West Lyttelton Parish of  Lyttelton. Lyttelton is home to our main sea port and, from Christchurch, it  is reached by travelling over  the Port Hills or through the tunnel. St Saviour’s was consecrated on 22 October 1885. For many years it was a chapel for seafarers and local parishioners alike. Amongst the seafarers to worship in the Chapel were Captain Robert Falcon Scott and the crews of the Discovery and Terra Nova.

In 1975, the Lyttelton parishioners gave the Chapel  to the Christchurch Diocese  and it was then given to The Cathedral Grammar School for use as its school chapel.  To reach its new abode, the Chapel had to be  dismantled and moved in sections over Evans Pass to Christchurch, and then reassembled. It was blessed on its current site on the corner of Park Terrace and Chester Street in July 1976 .

In 1980, a piece of the Chapel made another, much longer, journey. Acknowledging the Chapel’s connection with Captain Scott and  Antarctica, the original altar was given to the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research  and  later placed in the Chapel of the Snows in Antarctica.

Now the little Chapel is too small for the needs of The Cathedral Grammar School, so it  has been given to the parishioners of Holy Trinity Lyttelton, who lost their own church to the recent earthquakes. Soon, the Chapel will  return close to its original home. Quite how it is to travel is still undecided, as far as I know.  It may go the way it came or possibly, and very appropriately for a seafarers’ chapel, it may travel by barge on its first sea voyage ever. What a great little traveller and adventurer.

Here is  St Saviour’s Chapel being readied for her voyage. St Saviour's Chapel Waiting


Stowed away but not yet shipshapeStowage

The CaptainThe Captain

The BellThe BellLook  out

Reflections on the  port of callReflection

See East Wave farewell to the childrenFarewell to the Children

Need a Chapel?  Need a Gift? St Saviour’s to the RescueSaviour to the Rescue

If you would like more detailed information on the amazing life journey of this great little Chapel please refer to the following links:

http://www.historic.org.nz/TheRegister/RegisterSearch/RegisterResults.aspx?RID=1929 http://anglicantaonga.org.nz/News/TIKANGA-PAKEHA/Chapel-returning-home-to-Lyttelton

© silkannthreades

Me, the Tree, and Helen

I have been to many places in recent months, engaging with a  number of our city’s beautiful  trees, all the while forgetting, until today, that there is a tree in Christchurch with which  I am closely connected. The tree is a Liriodendron tulipifera and it was planted by myself and a friend on 22 October 2000, in the grounds of the Cathedral Grammar School, on Chester Street West.

The Tulip Tree is now 12 years taller;

Tulip Tree The tree was planted to commemorate the site of Helen Connon Hall.Commemorative Plaque It was the first and, so far, only time I have planted a commemorative tree, and it was a special occasion in my life. For a moment, I felt almost royal.

The tree planting idea came from  a wonderful group of women who organised a  successful reunion of “old students” of Helen Connon Hall; the university hall of residence once occupied the ground on which these school playing grounds now stand. And the games go on My friend and I lived at Helen Connon for one academic year, 1974, and that was its final year as a hall of residence, and its only year as a men’s and women’s residence. So, we represented the youngest and the last of the Hall’s occupants. (Not often that I get to be the youngest at an event!) It was the final year, not because we trashed it, although the shenanigans created by the excitement of a mixed residence were plenty, but because the university had completed its move from the central city to its new site at Ilam. The town facilities were no longer required.

Helen Connon Hall was the first residential hall at Canterbury College (later to become the University of Canterbury). It was opened in 1918 and was for female students only, except for that one last year of its life as a residence.

So that is me and the tree. What about Helen?

Typically for me and, no doubt, most of the populace, I had no idea, when I lived in the hall named after her, who Helen Connon was. In fact, I still didn’t know much about her when I helped to plant the tree. It was only after the publication, in 2004, of Margaret Lovell-Smith’s excellent  book, “Easily the Best, the Life of Helen Connon  1857 -1903”, that I began to appreciate her magnificence, and her influence on women’s education. She was a carpenter’s daughter who became, in 1880, the second woman arts graduate in the British Empire.  In1881, she became the first woman in the British Empire to earn a degree with honours; MA with first-class honours in English and Latin. And she did that right here, in Christchurch, New Zealand. As well as being a fine academic, she was a leading figure in education, as a teacher and  Lady Principal of Christchurch Girls High School. For more information, link to  http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/2c28/1

 Helen Connon Helen ConnonI don’t know what Helen Connon would have made of me  and my ignorance of her but I think she would have been pleased that I was the first woman in my family to earn a degree. Nothing fancy, but I did it. And my daughter was the first person in our family to obtain an honours degree in Classics. So, we are slowly catching up with Helen Connon, the trail blazer, without whom my education, my mother’s and my daughter’s would most likely never have happened.

As for the tree; I think she would be happy with our choice. It was chosen for its longevity and its shade qualities and suitablility for its school playground home. Helen Connon believed that mental and physical education went hand in hand. Additionally, photos of her own garden show that she spent much of her life surrounded by beautiful trees.


Physical Education

and contemplate.Contemplate

© silkannthreades

In the company of trees

On Christmas Day we had a small gallivant which came to rest under the cool, green, shady trees of Cranmer Square. For most of the time we were the sole visitors there. Cranmer Square is one of the four founding squares of the city, none of which are particularly square in shape. It was originally the heart of an educational precinct but now the only school remaining on its perimeter is The Cathedral Grammar School. Other than the surrounding buildings, some of which have been  lost to the earthquakes, Cranmer Square is much the same as it always has been; a pleasing and gentle exercise in geometry and greenery. Geometry Lessons in Cranmer SquareIn days gone by, I have usually been in too great a hurry to look closely at Cranmer Square, but, with the luxury of a leisurely Christmas Day, we were able to spend some quality time together, most especially with the trees. What wonderful companions they are. Serene, welcoming, and  willing listeners to our words, both silent and spoken. And they, in turn, share their stories in their gracious ageing limbs, if we but care to listen and look.

Trees to the right of usTrees RightTrees to the leftTrees LeftTrees alongside usTree CompanyTrees above usTree Shelter

I don’t know how old these trees are but I have seen their younger selves in a photo dated 1919. The Square, itself, was established in the 1860s.  I do know the trees are old enough and precious enough to have earned the status of ‘protected.’ They wear their ages with dignity and calm.  Tree History

Tell me Tales of Long AgoTell me more And it seems that others like to be in the company of trees too. Companion plantingAccording to the Christchurch City Council website, the protected trees are:

English Ash (Fraxinus excelsior)
Oriental Plane (Platanus orientalis) (x13)
London Plane (Platanus x acerifolia) (x 6)
Pin Oak (Quercus palustris)
English Oak (Quercus robur) (x8)
Common Lime (Tilia x europea)

© silkannthreades


I have expended a lot of words, in recent days, on my old school and its present environment. Now I am going to concentrate on posting some of the photos I took.

This is the Old Boarding House fully renovated and back on its foundations. I think it is currently used for administrative offices.  It is known as Te Koraha which apparently means ‘The Wilderness”.  It was built as a home for Arthur Edgar Gravenor Rhodes, a New Zealand  Parliamentarian and a Mayor of Christchurch. Construction of the house began in 1886.The Old Boarding HouseHere is the Old Whaling Pot, in a new spot (from my days, that is)The Whaling PotOld pot, new purpose10081These are the new temporary classrooms on the old sports field.Temporary classroomsThis is the present Boarding House or, as I call it, the ‘new’ Boarding HouseThe 'new' Boarding Housewhich has the loveliest courtyard, complete with Teddy Bear topiary teddy bear.

And here are the spaces where buildings have been and more are yet to come.Buildings yet to beLook a little closer and you will see this work of art.Art by Paul DibbleI don’t know anything of its history; when or how it came to be in this area of the school. I don’t know what it is supposed to represent…..life is magical? a box of tricks? anything is possible if you get the balance right? I do know that its creator, Paul Dibble, also sculpted the the New Zealand War Memorial on Hyde Park Corner.

Old School, New Times

When I was visiting St Andrew’s at Rangi Ruru the other day, I decided to take a look at the rest of the school grounds. Rangi Ruru Girls’ School is, I believe, out for the summer holidays, so there was no one about to object to my nosey presence. The last time I was in the area was before the earthquakes began in September 2010. In the intervening months I have read about the damage to the school buildings as well as progress with renovations and new building plans . I thought I was prepared for anything I might see when I drove to what I remembered  as the front entrance to the school.  BUT I WAS NOT PREPARED; NOT PREPARED AT ALL.

I was stunned. Many of the buildings I had known in my school days, and since, were gone. It was as if the frame that contained a significant portion of my  life’s tapestry had turned to dust and left my fabric floundering in thin air.  A weird sensation. And to make the scene even stranger, there was the old boarding house,  known as Te Koraha, fully exposed to the street.  I spent five years of my youth in Te Koraha and this was a  view of the building that I had never seen before. It was almost scandalous; as though I had chanced upon an elegant, elderly lady displaying her best lingerie, and way too much flesh, in public. In her own way, she looked beautiful but completely out of character.  I wanted to shout, ” Cover  up. This is unseemly.  Someone might see you.”

Then I had a chuckle at my reaction and remembered a time, from long ago, when, for reasons  I now forget, we boarders decided to put coloured light bulbs in the entrance way to the boarding house.  I think we were trying to add a little warmth and vibrancy to our lives. But, not long after the lights were turned on, the Matron came down on us like a ton of bricks, (or in modern parlance, like a Te Koraha chimney in an  earthquake!). Someone, possibly even the police, had complained that it was completely inappropriate for a girls’ boarding school to have a red light at its front door. What were we thinking, encouraging every Tom, Dick and Harry to come and knock at our door. Help! Such disgraceful conduct!  The offending lights were promptly removed. I doubt if  even a quarter of us  knew the significance of a red light at that time!

And, no one explained how we had, in the space of a few minutes, moved from a right-living suburb to  a neighbourhood of debauched and misguided manhood; nor, how any of these dubious creatures would have made it to the front door.  We lived in a school community enclosed by gates and fences. To leave the school gates without permission was almost a criminal offence. An offender, if caught, was usually gated, and, for the serial offender, there was always the  threat of expulsion. Note that, though there were strict rules, many were unafraid to break them 🙂

Sounds a dire existence,doesn’t it? But I  was, for the most part, happy enough during the years I boarded and studied at Rangi. I only mention the memories of the gated lifestyle as a way to explain the incongruence of the reality  that confronted me.

After my shock at the view subsided, I felt glad, enormously glad, that the old House was still standing, beautifully restored and, once again, taking its rightful place at the heart of the school. Only now it is the heart of a  school that  is open to the community, with only the lightest of boundaries; as all good schools should be.

Here is the view that so shocked me. It will probably seem perfectly ordinary to those meeting it for the first time.

Old House, New View

This is the entrance where we placed the offending light bulb. Please note the door is now painted red. Does this suggest that our colour choice for a welcoming entrance was way ahead of its time? The Entrance

“All whom space and time divide…..”

From my previous post you will know that I recently visited St Andrew’s at Rangi Ruru. Whilst I was standing outside the church, contemplating its history and admiring its present, seamless integration in to the school environment, a long forgotten song burst into my head space.

Rangi Ruru let us sing.
Voice and heart re-echoing.
All whom space and time divide,
Still in Love are at our side,

Full stop. That was all I could remember of a song sung many times, many years ago. But it was enough to stop me in my tracks and let out an internal “Ah yes, ah yes, I finally understand what those words mean!”  As a youngster, I enjoyed singing them but they didn’t make much sense. All alone, in the tree-lined school garden adjacent to the church, I was suddenly very aware of pupils and staff, past and present, and still to come. I was atuned to all those who had shared, still share and will share an education, learning and friendships on that small piece of land, in buildings both old and new, and in between.

Yesterday, in the early evening, the song re-echoed in another educational sphere. I was at a reunion of sorts and found myself conversing with an older woman. We discovered that we had almae matres in common, right down to the same college at one of them. Then, we discovered our connections went further; back to the school where I was standing but a few days ago. There we were, side by side, divided by years, by experiences over many years and yet, somehow, bonded by a few square metres of this earth in Merivale. Introducing me to another guest, she amusingly said that I had been following behind her through the years. I think behind is the correct word. She was, and is, a trail blazer, with academic and intellectual gifts that leave me awe-struck. I am  a speck of space dust in her comet!  Be that as it may, I am amazed that we came into contact at all.

I now return to the starting point of this post, St Andrew’s at Rangi Ruru; and then a little to the side to the garden that links church with school.  Is it a garth, almost?Orb GardenIn the middle of the garden there is a glorious sculputured orb. This is Orb Seed by Rebecca Rose.Orb SeedInner OrbOrb Seed ExplainedIt is, I feel, yet another expression of my educational experiences and their profound influence over time to my present place in the journey of life.

Phew; that was a long post for me!