Topic: Churches in Rangiora

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Churches in Rangiora

Churches in Rangiora

Rangiora began with a strong Anglican influence, through Charles Torlesse, the founder of the town. Torlesse was the son of the vicar of Stoke-by-Nayland, England, the Rev C.M. Torlesse, who became a committee member of the Canterbury Association.

The Torlesse influence resulted in relatives, friends and parishioners from Stoke being encouraged to seek a new life at Rangiora. The Torlesses no doubt benefited after the sale of sections from the holdings they had acquired in the new settlement.

Charles Torlesse seemed keen to replicate the English parish setting in his new settlement, with himself the benevolent village squire. He was the prime mover in encouraging community entertainments and sporting activities.

This applied to his religious activies also. He frequently rode long distances to have meetings with friends, to occasionally conduct services, and to attend services in Kaiapoi and Christchurch. He participated in mixed services also.

While the settlers were struggling to provide the basics for their future life, it was typical that members of various denominations met in private homes for what became known as cottage worship. Occasionally services were held in hotels, which were the only buildings able to accommodate larger gatherings.

The Anglicans as the most numerous, and with the help of a section given by Torlesse, were the first to have their own special place of worship. This was on the Direct Road (Victoria Street) near the North Brook.

The Direct Road had an appeal for the upholders of morals and the law with the first police station there about 1860, followed by the Baptists and the United Free Methodists. All were on the same side of the road on land cut from the Torlesse holdings. The Roman Catholic Church opened there later, on the opposite side.


Extract from "Rangiora An early pictorial record"



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