Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort

Aotearoa New Zealand / British, b.1825, d.1898

Belfry for Church of St Michael and All Angels

  • 1861
  • Watercolour
  • Collection St. Michael and All Angels Church Taonga Collection
  • 353 x 255mm
  • L91/76
  • View on google maps

Christchurch architect Benjamin Mountfort’s belfry design for St Michael and All Angels church was completed in 1861, and housed a bell brought from England in 1851. The Medieval-Gothic-inspired structure was a towering landmark in the low-rise settlement, and judged harshly by local luminary J. E. FitzGerald: “Mountfort appears to suffer under fits of temporary architectural insanity…”

(Out of Time, 23 September 2023 – 28 April 2024)

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • St Michael and All Angels, founded in 1851, is Christchurch’s oldest Anglican parish. Now a city landmark, the belfry was designed by Benjamin Mountfort, one of Canterbury’s most successful 19th-century architects. Mountfort’s paintings, mostly in watercolour, were very precise, paying great attention to accuracy and detail. His subjects were often architectural designs or studies. The belfry depicted here is typical of Mountfort’s Gothic Revival style. Mountfort was born in Wolverhampton, England. He grew up in Birmingham and in 1844 was articled to Richard Cromwell Carpenter [1812-1855], a leading Gothic Revival architect. Arriving in Lyttelton in 1850, Mountfort went on to design some of the most significant buildings in Christchurch, including the Canterbury Museum in 1870. He was also an accomplished watercolourist, and became a foundation member of the Canterbury Society of Arts in 1880.

    (Label date unknown)