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30th November.

November 29, 2010


Above: the Scotch Thistle which marks the spot where St Andrew’s Prebyterian Church of Christchurch first stood (Antigua St and Oxford Terrace). The Avon runs on the other side of Oxford Terrace.

The Saltire in Christchurch.

NB. This is not a comprehensive or even adequate survey. It’s just about some bits that interest me. I’ve never set foot in the Caledonian Hall or eaten haggis, even though I am about to find out who the best haggis-producing butcher in town is. I’ll let you know.

The river that flows through the centre of the city (its banks now largely forming an urban park) was named  Avon at the request of the pioneering Deans brothers to commemorate the Scottish Avon, which rises in the Ayrshire hills near what was their grandfathers’ farm and flows into the Clyde.

Rangi Ruru (a private girls’ school) in Christchurch is, despite the Maori name, a school with strong Scottish/ Presbyterian connections. Its houses are Balmoral, Braemar, Doune, Dunvegan, Glamis and Stirling. Jules and Possum* were in Braemar. I don’t think they added anything much to its strength. RR also used to (and may still) do an exchange with Gordonstoun (yes, that Gordonstoun).

 *For two terms only. A private girls’ school did not suit Possum at all. She was most uncomplimentary about her fellow pupils.

St Andrew’s at Rangi Ruru (photograph below) is a very pretty wooden church. The school holds assemblies there, and other events. It is a lovely setting. I occasionally dine with its Parish Clerk (a woman who disapproves of her long-dead kinsman, Robert Burns, for his ‘lack of community spirit’). The original site of St Andrew’s in Christchurch is just around the road from where I worked for some years.

[The other church pictured below is the First Church (Presbyterian) in Dunedin.]

There is, of course, also St Andrew’s School (private, co-ed) in Merivale. I used to live across the road. [I was married, in 1982, by the then Rector of St Andrew’s, Bob Murphy.]

And I recently discovered the Addington cemetery in Selwyn Street, in which many of Christchurch’s early inhabitants of Scottish birth or extraction are buried. A couple of headstones are included in the photos below.

[Scotch thistles are a horrible weed where I grew up in southern NSW. I remember many uncomfortable hours helping my father grub them out with a hoe.]

 ‘Scots–as to humour. . . I never knew a fool of that Nation.’ John Aubrey, 1684–6. Royal Society MS.


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