Writers' Trail ~ Marlborough
Katherine Mansfield/ Koromiko
HISTORIC CHURCH'S LINK TO THE WRITER
St John in the Wilderness Anglican Church is at Koromiko between Blenheim and Picton. Katherine Mansfield, when she was visiting Beauchamp relatives in Picton, attended services in this small church, travelling from Picton by horse and buggy. She accompanied John Greensill, a friend of the family, when he was acting as a lay preacher.
Nina Greensill, in her book The Misty Isle, recalls the visits of Katherine Mansfield and the Beauchamp family:
Katherine was quite attached to my father, and was sometimes chosen to drive with him when he was filling the function of lay reader at the Sunday afternoon service ‘out the road’ at Koromiko.
The church was built from local timber, kahikatea and rimu, donated by early settler and mill owner Captain John Dalton. It opened for services on 4 April 1871 and was consecrated on 4 May the same year by Bishop Suter of Nelson. A photograph on the wall inside the church, taken on the opening day in 1871, shows it was indeed ‘in the wilderness’, surrounded by tree stumps.
The altar and communion rail were added in 1896, also donated by the Dalton family. Wrought iron memorial gates and a brick wall were added in 1927.
Koromiko residents, several with long family connections to the church, help with the maintenance of the church and grounds, and services are held monthly on Sunday evenings. One of New Zealand’s oldest churches still in regular use, the importance of St John in the Wilderness was recognised in 2008 when it became a NZ Historic Places Trust category 2 registered building. Read more about the church here
Written by: Julie Kennedy
St John in the Wilderness is located at 858 State Highway 1, 8 kms from Picton. It is on the west side of the road, just north of Station Road.