St Peter the Less in St Clair

In the early days of European settlement, the rich soil of the St Clair area allowed agriculture such as market gardening to flourish. By 1912, housing had built up in the area, and a deputation from St Clair gave The Vestry a 130-signature petition, asking for a church to be built there. For reasons lost to history, the deputation wanted the boundaries changed so their proposed church would be in the parish of Holy Cross, St Kilda, rather than in the parish of Caversham. The Vestry was not impreschurchpic3sed. The Vicar then put forward the alternative of holding services in an existing building. The Vestry didn’t like this either, but the curate went ahead anyway, and held services at the South Dunedin town hall, and then in St Clair school.

By 1926, The Vestry was more amenable to the idea of a church in St Clair, and bought a section for one. A church building itself was lacking, but help came from an unexpected direction. A rather strange body, calling itself the Catholic Apostolic Church, had set up a branch in MacLaggan Street in the eighteen-nineties. An imminent Second Coming had been promised by their founder, and when this failed to occur their ministry structure of Apostles and Angels collapsed, and thus they could not ordain any new clergy (the last Apostle died on 3 February 1901). The Dunedin branch realised the inevitable sooner than some, and kindly gave their Church to the Anglicans to be erected on the St Clair site. All the parish had to pay was 450 for the transport and re-erection of the building. Its new name of St Peter the Less emphasised the link with the main Church in Hillside Road.

By 1971 attendances had fallen and there was talk of discontinuing the weekly Eucharist, and in 1993 it was accepted that the small congregation, though faithful, was unlikely to get any bigger. The Church was closed, the congregation joining Saint Peter’s in Hillside Road. The building itself was sold to a ballet school.


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