Old St Paul’s is a wooden church with steep gables. It has long been a popular Wellington landmark and was the original Cathedral church of the city. It was built between 1865 and 1866 in the Gothic style on what was originally the site of Pipitea Pā, a Māori settlement on Wellington’s waterfront, but in New Zealand native timber rather than stone. This was due to the 1855 earthquake which had destroyed so many stone buildings.The site was first purchased in 1845 by George Selwyn, 1st Bishop of New Zealand. More land was added by the Governor, George Grey, in 1853. Permission to build the church was granted in 1861. It was consecrated as an Anglican cathedral on 6 June 1866. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh attended morning service here on 9 January 1954, the Duke reading the lesson. Four days later The Queen laid the foundation stone for the new Cathedral nearby. In 1964 the new Cathedral (New St Paul’s) was ready and so Old St Paul’s became redundant. The new Cathedral was completed in stages, the Queen laying the foundation stone for the Commemorative Tower on 5 November 1995, and unveiling the Consecration Stone on 24 February 2002. There were fears that Old St Paul’s would be pulled down, but it was saved in 1967 following vociferous protests from the people of Wellington. Today it is owned by the Government and no longer a parish church, though it is still consecrated. The Nave contains ensigns from the Royal Navy, the New Zealand Merchant Navy and the 2nd division, United States Marine Corps. There is a memorial plaque to the distinguished historian, John Beaglehole, OM (biographer of James Cook), who was to the fore in the campaign to save St Paul’s. It is a popular venue for weddings and other celebrations and has a special place in the hearts the people of Wellington.
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