Prior to European colonisation, Maori occupation in the area included settlement along the Whau River and Oakley Creek. The area was part of an extensive piece of land transferred to the British Crown by Ngati Whatua in 1841, the year after Auckland’s founding as colonial capital. The hub of a colonial settlement developed in 1860, the year a local Presbyterian Church opened. The first Anglican services were held in 1874 and a church committee formed with prominent community leader John Bollard (1839-1915) as Minister’s Warden. In 1882, a purpose-built church was commissioned by the congregation on a site overlooking the growing township. The site had previously been donated by William Palmer, a local hotelkeeper.
Construction of the church was initially delayed due to expense, and began only after the plans had been reassessed by architect Edward Bartley (1839-1919). Bartley had undertaken a number of important commissions in the early 1880s including St John’s Wesleyan Church, Ponsonby (1882); and the Auckland Synagogue in Princes Street, the Opera House, and the Auckland Savings Bank, Queen Street (all 1884). A foundation stone was laid in September 1884 by Bishop William Cowie, who also presided at the church opening three months later. The structure with a hexagonal belfy incorporated a small nave, sanctuary, vestry and porch with steeply gabled roofs. Erected by Avondale builder Amos Bentham, the church stood on brick foundations, reflecting the importance of the local brickmaking industry. The building interior was matchlined, had exposed collar beam trusses and incorporated timber pews that were initially rented out to members of the congregation.
Memorials to commemorate servicemen and church members who died in the First and Second World Wars were respectively erected in the church porch in 1921 and in the grounds in 1947. A small addition to the church in 1957 housed a pipe organ built by George Croft and Son. Upon the closure of St Ninian’s Presbyterian Church in 1984, St Jude’s became Avondale’s oldest church still in use as a place of worship. Lead-light windows, some depicting local historical themes, were installed to celebrate St Jude’s centenary in 1984. The church and hall remain in regular use for services and related activities.
St Jude’s Church and Hall is architecturally significant for incorporating well-preserved examples of simple late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Anglican religious architecture, and as one of the earliest surviving examples of Anglican ecclesiastical design by prominent Auckland practitioner Edward Bartley. The place has aesthetic value for the pleasing form and well-preserved interior of its church, and for its mature plantings. The site has historical significance for its associations with early local pioneering families, the growth of the Anglican Church in Auckland, and the development of the district. It has social significance as a place of public gathering, worship and celebration for over 125 years and has spiritual significance as a longstanding place of Anglican religious observance, place of contemplation and local commemoration.
St Jude’s Church has historical significance as Avondale’s oldest church still in use as a place of worship and for its associations with the development of the Anglican Church in Auckland. The church also has historical value for its association with early pioneering families of the Whau district, including politician John Bollard.
The place has aesthetic value for the simple but pleasing form of the church building with hexagonal bell tower, lancet windows and well-preserved interior with exposed roof trusses and original timber pews. The presence of the early twentieth-century Sunday School Hall, a Second World War memorial in the form of a Celtic cross, and a Jackson Bay Fig tree and other plantings enhance the overall setting.
The church and its hall have architectural value as well-preserved examples of simple late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Anglican religious architecture. The church is significant as one of the earliest surviving examples of Anglican ecclesiastical design by prominent Auckland practitioner Edward Bartley, who was architect to the Anglican Diocese of Auckland. St Jude’s Church also has architectural value for its well-articulated form reminiscent of some late-era Selwyn churches constructed in rural south Auckland in the 1860s.
It has considerable social significance as a place of public gathering and congregation for over 125 years, for its role in the marking of important personal events notably weddings, baptisms and funerals, and patriotic events of importance to the wider community such as celebration the Sixtieth Jubilee of the reign of Queen Victoria in 1897. In addition to formal use as a Sunday School the hall has been the venue of important community social occasions including the farewelling of local servicemen during the Second World War.