Auckland’s Religious Legacy in Neo-Gothic Splendour at St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral

Parnell is Auckland’s premier suburb and also its oldest. Commanding an impressive position on an elevated ground looking over the city and the charming port, Parnell is known for its scenic ocean vistas and its religious institutions. Home to several Church of England establishments, its core charities, the Diocesan Library and the residence of the Bishop, the picturesque hamlet is also home to a number of breathtaking churches of historic significance.

These include a number of Presbyterian and Wesleyan churches, St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Chapel and of course the neo-gothic wonder that is St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral. Reputed as the first church to have been built in the city of Parnell, the wooden structure is also renowned as one of the largest of its kind in the globe. Beautifully executed according to the design of B.W Mountfort, the church has a decidedly neo-gothic air about its form and architecture. Built in 1863, the church dominates its landscapes even today due to its iconic bell chimes and imposing facade. Having been relocated from its position on the other side of the road, St. Mary’s was moved to its current position next to the Selwyn Court and the New Holy Trinity Cathedral in 1982.

Devoted to St. Mary, this ancient religious institution has stood the test of time, remaining a focal point of the town’s many attractions and its community’s consciousness. With Venerable Archdeacon Kissling serving as its first incumbent, the church went through extensive renovations which included enlargements of its already monumental size under the care of its later incumbent Venerable Archdeacon Maunsell. Nearly 159 feet in length with a 32 foot broad nave, the church is approximately 48 feet in height from floor to summit. Complete with captivating screens and a pulpit contributed by Parnell resident M. J. Gay the two aisles within the church are 12.5 feet each.