Eskdale War Memorial Church

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Eskdale War Memorial Church, on SH5 north of Napier, was dedicated on 3 December 1920. The interdenominational church had been built by local landowner Thomas Clark and his daughter Annie in memory of Annie’s late husband, Lieutenant Percival Moore Beattie, who had been killed in action at Le Quesnoy on 4 November 1918. Two granite commemorative tablets were installed in the church; the larger of them listed the names of the 26 other men from the district who had given their lives. Over the years, various mementoes of Lieutenant Beattie’s service, including the wooden cross that had originally marked his grave in France, were put on display in the church foyer.

On Anzac Day 1925 a French Regimental flag was installed in the church along with a brass plaque inscribed as follows: THE ABOVE REGIMENTAL FLAG WAS PRESENTED TO / THE ESKDALE MEMORIAL CHURCH BY THE GOVERNMENT / OF FRANCE IN MEMORY OF NEW ZEALANDERS WHO / FOUGHT SIDE BY SIDE WITH THE FRENCH DURING / THE GREAT WAR 1914-1918.

On 27 April 1947 a memorial tablet was unveiled in honour of the men from Eskdale and Bayview, and the Old Boys of France House (a local home for teenage boys), who had given their lives in the Second World War. The church also displays a memorial tablet for Marcus G. Smith, killed at Al Alamein on 16 July 1942.

The roughcast and tile church was designed by the well-known Arts and Craft architect James Chapman-Taylor. It was damaged during the Hawkes Bay earthquake of 1931, but reopened after restoration on 27 September 1931 (it was again damaged by floods in 1938).

Sources: ‘Eskdale Memorial’, Hastings Standard, 4/12/1920, p. 3; ‘Eskdale War Memorial Church’ (framed information sheet displayed in the church); Linda Burgess, Historic Churches, Auckland, 2015, pp. 116-119; Bill McKay and Linda Burgess, Worship: A History of New Zealand Church Design, Auckland, 2015, pp. 164-7.

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