Gone now : buildings and structures

Small churches and chapels on site

Several small churches and chapels were constructed in the cemeteries. These included the Jewish chapel built in the 1850s, the Anglican Mortuary Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre (1865), and the St Francis de Sales mortuary chapel serving the Catholics (1866). The Jewish memorial Chapel, built in 1954, is the only chapel remaining on the site.

The Anglican Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre was moved to Grange Road in Mount Eden in 1905.

Sexton's house

The sexton (caretaker) of the Anglican Church of the Holy Sepulchre, had a house next to the church. This modest red-roofed dwelling stayed on site long after the church itself had been moved, until it was demolished to make way for the motorways.

An aerial photo from 1971 shows it still standing; in another aerial photo from 1974, it has disappeared.

Small churches and chapels on site

  • <p>Showing the exterior of the Holy Sepulchre Church at its original site in Symonds Street, date unknown. <em>Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-97.</em></p>
  • <p>View from Partinton's Windmill across the Jewish section with the original Jewsih mortuary chapel on the corner of Symonds Street and Karangahape Road, c1870s. <em>Burton Brothers, Te Papa, Ref: C.011114. http://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/Object/21943</em></p>
  • <p>View from Partington's Windmill across the Jewish and Catholic sections with St Franics de Sales Church on the corner of Symonds Street and East Streets. This was used as a mortuary chapel in the Catholic cemetery till it was replaced by St Benedict's in 1882, c1870s. <em>Burton Brothers, Te Papa, Ref: C.011114. http://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/Object/21943</em></p>

Anglican sexton's house

The home of the sexton (caretaker) of the Anglican Church of the Holy Sepulchre stood on the site until the early 1960s.

Catholic sexton's house

Demolition drama

The drama that accompanied the demise of the Catholic sextons house was well documented in The New Zealand Herald in August 1883 (see links to Papers Past).

James Walsh, “a native of Kilkenny” (Ireland) had been the sexton to the Catholic cemetery for 22 years. “But death claims the sexton as well as those whom he has gathered in,” reported the paper on 17 June 1881, when he died.

Walsh’s aged and ailing widow Bridget continued to live in the modest “mud whare.” When she shifted (temporarily, she said) to Otahuhu for her health, the building was left in the care of her son-in-law, Mr Elliot and his wife.

The Catholic priest Reverend Monsignor Fynes had been asking the family to move out since February 1882.

In August 1883, the Elliots were given an eviction notice of one day.

The new Catholic sexton Patrick Hennessy, and two other men Michael Casey and Murtagh Donaghue, began demolishing the house, with people still inside it, and a crowd watching.

Reporting on the incident, The New Zealand Herald observed: “The men were perfectly sober…When they got a few shingles off they again sang out to the inmates to come out, but refusing, Hennessy forced the door open with a crowbar, and begged them for God’s sake to come out. The men took the shingles off carefully to prevent them falling into the house.”

A court case against Hennessy, Casey and Donaghue, where they were charged with “malicious injury to property” found “no Bill. He men were acquitted as the judges said is “was clear that these men were acting under instructions of the proper and lawful custodians of the cemetery, and believed they were only asserting the rights of their employer.”

Perhaps the verdict was coloured by the testimony of Constable Clarke of Newton, who was “well acquainted with the occupants,” according to the Herald’s coverage of the court proceedings.

“His attention was called to the Elliot’s house by his brother-in-law about drinking being carried on, and Mary Inkster, a prostitute was staying with them. Mrs Elliot was associated with her.

“A lot of drunken scenes occurred in the hut, to which his attention was called several times. An old prostitute names Jones used to get drunk there, and owing to the drunken scenes carried on he had frequently been called there.”

Sexton's houses

  • <p>The Sexton's house at Symonds Street cemetery, c1966. <em>Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 968-70.</em></p>
  • <p>View of upper Symonds Street from Partintong's Windmill. The Anglican sexton's house is on the left of Symonds Street in front of the Holy Sepulchre Church, c1870s. The Catholic sexton's house is the in the centre of the picture, on the right of Symonds Street and below the level of the roadway. <em>Burton Brothers, Te Papa, Ref: C.011114. http://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/Object/21943</em></p>

Entry archways

Designed by Miss Mary Pulling and built in 1908, this may have been the first work of architecture by a (Pākehā) woman in New Zealand.

The archway took on a lean, and became to be considered unsafe, and so was demolished in 1968.

Another, more rough entry archway in a circular form and made of scoria rocks was on the west side of Symonds Street. This was demolished in 1945.

A biography from the KRoad.com website:

Miss Pulling (1871 -1951) was one of seven children of the Reverend James Pulling and his wife, Elizabeth Mary Hodgson. James was master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and vicar of Belchamp St Paul. Mary attended Truro Girls’ High School, Cheltenham Ladies’ College and the University of London.

After gaining a first-class degree in English literature, Classics and mental science in 1892, she taught at Cheltenham Ladies’ College and Lincoln High School for Girls, trained teachers at St Gabriel’s College, Kensington, and St Mary’s College, Paddington, and studied the administrative methods of leading English girls’ schools.

She also received training in embroidery and had a lifelong interest in design, drawing and architecture.

At the invitation of the Anglican Bishop of Auckland, Moore Richard Neligan, she came to New Zealand in 1904 to establish a church school for girls. She became headmistress of Auckland’s Diocesan High School for Girls.

In 1926 she retired, and from 1930 lived a reclusive life as Anchoress Mary Etheldred in the Waikato town of Cambridge, devoting her time to intercessional prayer and spiritual counselling.

She died at Te Awamutu, on 24 March 1951.

Entry archways

  • <p> Workmen demolishing one of the stone arches over the entrance to the Symonds Street Cemetery. <em>New Zealand Herald, Volume 82, Issue 25260, 21 July 1945, Page 4.</em></p>
  • <p>Stone archway at Symonds Street entrance to Grafton Cemetery, c1955. <em>Auckland Museum,  PH-NEG-H1579 .</em></p>
  • <p>The old stone lychgate leading into  the Anglican section of the Symonds Street cemetery, c.1966. <em>Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 968-69.</em></p>

Ladies' waiting rooms

In 1952, the City Council purpose-built a Ladies Rest Room in the Symonds Street Park, just behind where the Greer Twiss sculptre is now.

This clean, modernist building designed was by Auckland's city architect Tibor Donner (1907-1993). It was demolished in 2000.

The remaining brick tool shed in the Presbyterian section nearby, was probably built at the same time.

Ladies' waiting rooms

  • <p>Corner of Karangahape Road and Symonds Street, c1924. <em>S. Smith - Tanner Brothers Ltd Postcard, Auckland Museum C13417.</em></p>
  • <p>Detail of aerial view of Pigeon Park, showing the flat roof of the 1950s ladies rest room (designed by Tibor Doner) in the reserve on corner of K'Rd and Symonds Street, c1960s. <em>Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZ Map 7284</em></p>
  • <p>A scene outside the new ladies rest room erected by the City Council in the reserve at the corner of Symnonds Street and Karangahape Road in early 1927. <em>New Zealand Herald</em>, Volume LXIV, Issue 19642, 21 May 1927, Page 8.</p>

Scoria rock walls

A feature of the cemetery are the drystone scoria rock walls, which originally demarcated the separate cemeteries.

From the KRoad.com website:

"Over 20,000 years ago the Grafton Volcanoes to the east of the gully exploded and showered debris over the surrounding clay landscape. Only comparatively small scoria rocks made it this far.

"These stones were gathered up to make the dry stone walls to divide the various areas of the cemetery, in the same way as they were used to separate pastures from each other or residential plots - as is common in nearby Mount Eden and Epsom.

"Remnants of these walls still exist in places around the Cemetery; the portion of the wall separating the Jewish sector from Karangahape Road has been augmented with mortar and rendered with a cement finish to resemble ashlar stonework."

Scoria rock walls

  • <p>The Jewish mortuary building on the corner of Symonds Street and Karangahape Road, c 1860s. <em>Hartley Webster, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Ref: PA2-1860.</em></p>
  • <p> Workmen demolishing one of the stone arches over the entrance to the Symonds Street Cemetery. <em>New Zealand Herald, Volume 82, Issue 25260, 21 July 1945, Page 4.</em></p>
  • <p>This corner of the Catholic cemetery on Symonds Street. The stone lychgate was removed in 1945, c1919. <em>Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19190320-37-3.</em></p>