St. Mary’s was the progenitor of a number of daughter churches such as St Paul’s Church. As always, like in politics, there are different views of liturgy in ecclesiastical affairs. Central to this dissident group’s disaffection, was their disapproval of the replacement clergyman at St Mary’s Church “high church” proclivities.
Therefore it came to pass that this disaffected group abandoned St Mary’s Church and formed what they initially called the Trinity Church.
Main picture: Holy Trinity Church near Havelock Square
On 10th July 1853, the founding chaplain at St Mary’s Church, the Reverend Francis McCleland passed away. His replacement was the Rev. W.H. Fowle who was alleged to possess “high church” sympathies. His resulted in a schism within the congregation. The formal rupture occurred during January 1854.
I can still distinctly recall my mother even in the 1960s warning us children that the service was the antithesis of what an Anglican service should be. What this means is that the type of service remained constant in spite of a succession of new clergymen occupying the position over the next century.
Initially they began meeting for services in a small Hall in Kemp Street used for a Saving’s Bank. Among the first concerns of any new church is the acquisition of a building. How this band of resolute individuals achieved it, is not recorded but by 1858, a church known as the Trinity Church had been constructed. It was located at the corner of Military Road and Baakens Street on land granted for that purpose by the Governor of the Cape, Sir George Grey.
The stained glass windows were manufactured in Britain and transported to Port Elizabeth aboard the H.M.S. ‘Balaklava’. The church was never destined to receive them as the Balaklava struck the struck Roman Rock off Summerstrand on 14th May 1867. She began taking in water rapidly and a special pump belonging to the P.E. fire brigade was dispatched by tug in an attempt to save her, but she suddenly sank in seven fathoms of water. There was just sufficient time to take the crew aboard the tug and nothing else.
Notwithstanding their prodigious efforts, this was in all likelihood merely a temporary arrangement. What lends credence to this assumption is that shortly afterwards yet another church was constructed. In this case it was on the current site next to Havelock Square on four plots of land donated for that purpose by Henry Maynard, a wealthy merchant in the town. Designed by F.M. Pfeil, it was opened on 1st April 1866. A spire and a schoolroom, both designed by James Bisset, were added in 1873 and 1883 respectively. After commencing construction of the school building in July 1882, on 29th March, the memorial stone was laid shortly after it completion by Mrs. W.E. Paddon. Roger Ascham, who wrote the Grey School Song, was their first organist
In the 1890s Port Elizabeth suffered a bout of conflagrations. The underlying cause was the of the pyromaniac actions of the deranged Frances Livingstone Johnston. In 1897, Trinity Church was next on her to-do list. On the night of Saturday 1st April 1897, she did her worst and Trinity Church was burnt down with only the tower and the school room surviving intact.
What is not recorded is whether the rebuilding plans of William White Cooper conformed largely to the original design or whether like St. Mary’s Church which had also recently been enflamed, he took the liberty of improving or embellishing the initial design. What is stated on the churches website is that “the Gothic building with magnificent stained glass windows that stands today dates back to 1898.” Hence one can safely assume that the current church bears little if no resemblance to the original church.
Sir Alfred Milner, one time Governor and British High Commissioner, laid the Foundation Stone in September 1897 and in the following year, the new edifice was dedicated by Dean Holmes of Grahamstown. It was at this point that the Church was re-christened with his current name: The Holy Trinity Church. The first ministers were Rev. W.A. Robinson (1857-1863) and then Rev. H.I. Johnson, also Rector of the Grey Institute (1863-1873).
Like many other institutions in Port Elizabeth, the Holy Trinity Church decided to commemorate those of its congregants who had fallen during the Great War. To this end, a war memorial was unveiled on 24th April 1925 for the nine members of the congregation who had fallen in the line of duty. The unveiling was performed by Major Tebbutt Whitehead.
Holy Trinity was only constituted as an Anglican parish in 1930 finally being consecrated in 1957, the centenary year.
Holy Trinity Church was declared a National Monument in 1993.
Port Elizabeth of Yore: St Phillips Church on Richmond Hill
Port Elizabeth of Yore: St. Mary’s Cemetery
Mosenthals: A Metaphor for the Fortunes of Port Elizabeth
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Brickmaker’s Kloof
Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Enclosed Harbour Scheme in the 1930s
Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Harbour prior to the Charl Malan Quay
Port Elizabeth of Yore: St Mary’s Church
Port Elizabeth of Yore: New Church in Main Street
Rations, Rules and other Regulations aboard the Settler Ships
Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Earliest Photographs
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Empire units in P.E. during the Boer War
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Defences during the Boer War
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Memorials to the Fallen in War
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Fire Damage to the P.E. Advertiser in 1913
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Albany Road
Algoa Bay before the Settlers: Sojourn by Henry Lichtenstein in the Early 1800s
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Captain Jacob Glen Cuyler
Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Growth of the Population
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Murders most Foul
Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Phoenix Hotel
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Echoes of a Far off War
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Main Street in the Tram Era
Lost Artefacts of Port Elizabeth: Customs House
The Great Flood in Port Elizabeth on 1st September 1968
A Sunday Drive to Schoenmakerskop in 1922
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Horse Drawn Trams
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Trinder Square
The Sad Demise of the Boet Erasmus Stadium
Interesting Old Buildings in Central Port Elizabeth:
The Shameful Torching of Port Elizabeth’s German Club in 1915:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Cora Terrace:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Grand Hotel:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Whaling in Algoa Bay:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: White’s Road:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Slipway in Humewood:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: King’s Beach:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Russell Road:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Sand dunes, Inhabitants and Animals:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Horse Memorial:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Target Kloof:
The Parsonage House at Number 7 Castle Hill Port Elizabeth
What happened to the Shark River in Port Elizabeth?
A Pictorial History of the Campanile in Port Elizabeth
Allister Miller: A South African Air Pioneer & his Connection with Port Elizabeth
The Three Eras of the Historic Port Elizabeth Harbour
The Historical Port Elizabeth Railway Station
Port Elizabeth: A Social Chronicle to the end of 1945 end of 1945 by Margaret Harradine