Sunday, April 11, 2010

In Pleasant Valley

It was all mood and mist in Pleasant Valley, South Canterbury the day I was introduced to the very delightful St. Anne's Church, a tiny architectural joy, tucked into the rural landscape, away from the road, behind a stand of old yew and poplar trees.
There, in the middle of fields and byways, a sign on the side of the road, 'advertising' the Family Eucharist service the next day. It was too good to pass up - the chance to wander into the silent church yard (before the Sunday service), to think about the building, the misty graveyard and all who had come and gone since the church was built in 1863.
St Anne's in fact, is the oldest church still in use in South Canterbury. Built of native timbers - matai, kahikatea and totara, felled in the bush directly behind the church - it stands as a reminder of industrious pioneer times. If you peer through the window (and sadly that's all we could do because the door was locked), you can still see the marks of the pit-saws and adzes, used to construct the interior rafters and the pews.
I loved its moody little cemetery enshrouded in mist; its cute arched windows; the white iron sign hanging against the yew tree; and the handwritten sign on the gate, reminding the locals of services held "every 4th Sunday." All a lovely legacy from the original settlers of the district, who built the church with volunteer labour.

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