The Architect

The chapel was designed by architect John Goddard Collins. Collins was born in Christchurch in 1886 and joined the practice of Collins & Harman in 1903. He became a foundation member of the New Zealand Institute of Architects and designed many Christchurch buildings including the Sign of the Takahe and Nazareth House Chapel. The specification for the chapel of 1926 and the plans dated 10th January 1927 show a great attention to detail. John Collins designed the chapel and supervised its construction completely free of charge. He retired in 1955 and died in 1973.

John Goddard Collins

The Chapel Construction


The chapel was built during 1927-1928 by William H Williamson of Williamson Construction Company. He described the chapel as "the finest building he ever built". Aesthetically, the interior presents a well crafted, well proportioned and warm environment that invites and soothes. 

Elevation of the Chapel
The Floor

The floor is of reinforced concrete construction with a basement. Access to the basement is via stairs which has an external door on the south side of the chapel. The original plan shows these stairs to be on the north side. The floor is paved with a yellow tinted blackwood and oak parquet floor, set in mastic directly to the concrete.


The chancel arch, the walls above the panelling at each end of the nave and chancel, corbels, bedmoulds and the crosses on the gables are all of Oamaru stone.

Oamaru Stone Detail

Brick is used in varied ways in the chapel structure and decoration. Walls are of cavity construction. Splayed terracotta blocks are used over the window heads with herringbone pattern used on the gables and two window heads as decoration. A moulded brick cornice runs under the eaves and a moulded brick stringer course runs below the windows. Window jambs are of scotia (concave) brick and arches are of gauged scotia. The buttresses are in brick with a circular weathering of gauged brick.

ButtressesWindow Detail

Window frames, sills and door frames are of black pine with mostly Oregon being used elsewhere and for the Tudor headed wall and door panels.


The roof support structure is of an open trussed design. The timber has a stain finish applied. The roof is tiled with purple slates with decorative bands of green slate.

Roof Truss Detail

The nave windows have Tudor arches. The gable windows behind the vestries and the larger windows show a departure from Collins' original plan.   

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© Christchurch Nurses Memorial Chapel, February 2012.