The Background of Your Wedding Venue
The Historic Elms Mission Station
These tranquil grounds and old mission buildings are steeped in history. The site for the Te Papa Mission Station (now The Elms) was chosen in 1835. In January 1838 Rev. A.N.Brown and his family arrived, and made this beautiful place their home.
The small mission library was completed in 1839, with Brown himself building the chimney. Here were kept the precious books so important for life in an isolated settlement. Here, too, were held important meetings with the leaders of church and state.
The attractive mission house was completed in 1847 and replaced the original raupo house in which the Browns spent the first nine years of their life in Tauranga. The joinery work in the house was made on site by skilled carpenters. The graceful spiral staircase is a beautiful example of their work.
If you wish, you may arrange for your guests to enjoy a guided tour of the house and library.
The History of the Chapel
The first chapel was built from raupo (rushes), which grew in abundance nearby. It was replaced in 1843 by a weatherboard chapel with a shingle roof. Missionary William Williams described it as "a neat little building with Gothic windows and doors."
The chapel fell into disrepair after the death of Archdeacon Brown, and was demolished.
Some fifty years later a replica chapel, based on a photograph of the old chapel taken in the 1860s, was erected on the original site.
The chapel was dedicated in 1965 by Rev. R.E.Marsden, great great grandson of Rev. Samuel Marsden, the founder of the New Zealand mission. The interior was fitted out with pews from St Peter's Church, Tauranga. The wall panels came from various sources, including the old Bank of New Zealand building in Wellington. The chapel, which seats about 70, is an attractive location for small weddings.
The Story of the Belfry and Bell
Rev. A.N.Brown ordered a church bell from London while he was stationed at the Matamata mission station in 1834. The story goes that Brown was in the Waikato when the ship carrying the bell arrived in Auckland the following year.
Although local residents were keen to receive the bell, the captain insisted that he must deliver it to Brown himself. As he was unable to do so, he took it all the way back to England, bringing it out again on the ship's next voyage. This time it was safely handed over to its rightful owner. The bell was hung on a simple free-standing belfry beside the raupo chapel.
In 1887 Euphemia Maxwell, and her daughters took up residence at the mission station. The bell was lent to St Peter's Presbyterian church, where it was damaged. It was returned to The Elms, where it hung silent on the belfry. In 1929 the bell was recast by an Auckland foundry.
The bell was rededicated on 29th November 1929, the 100th anniversary of Alfred and Charlotte's Brown's arrival in the Bay of Islands.