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Historic Cemetery Listed As A Category 1 Historic Place

Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga has listed Addington Cemetery – Christchurch’s oldest public cemetery – as a Category 1 historic place identifying it as a place of outstanding heritage significance.

The cemetery was established 165 years ago, and is the final resting place of such prominent Cantabrians as suffragist Kate Sheppard, members of the Deans family, politician Tommy Taylor and wealthy philanthropist Allan McLean.

“Interestingly, a bit of dissent was one of the driving factors behind the cemetery’s establishment,” says Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Senior Heritage Assessment Advisor for Canterbury and the West Coast, Robyn Burgess.

“Addington Cemetery was established in reaction to dissatisfaction with the fact that all burials at Christchurch’s first cemetery – the Barbadoes Street Cemetery – had to be conducted according to Anglican rites,” says Robyn.

“Key figures in the Presbyterian Church of St Andrews in Christchurch were instrumental in establishing the city’s second cemetery in Addington – which was initially called ‘Scotch Cemetery’ as Christchurch’s Presbyterian community was predominantly Scottish.”

The Presbyterain leadership advertised it in the Lyttelton Times of 1858 as a public cemetery ‘ to all persons of any religious community and to the performances of any religious service at the burial, not contrary to public decency and good order’.

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Anglicanism was no longer the only denomination in town when it came to burials.

“The cemetery is located in a mostly residential area, and follows the garden cemetery tradition, being rectangular in plan with a tightly spaced formal grid pattern of rows, plots and narrow paths,” says Robyn.

“Addington Cemetery is densely packed and contains a range of grave and memorial types, ranging from simple to formal and sculptural monuments reflecting the craftsmanship of monumental masons.”

With generations of people interred in family plots, burials spanning mid-Victorian, Edwardian and mid-Twentieth Century periods are all indentified on a single memorial.

The cemetery was declared closed in 1980, though it has become a much-valued place in the city and is a drawcard for locals, researchers, descendants and other visitors.

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