Mt Peel Church and the Himalayan Lilies

The Mt Peel Church is on Mt Peel  Station, in South Canterbury.  The station has been farmed by six generations of the Acland family since the station was established in 1856.  The church is open for visitors throughout the year.  The original homestead is open only on nominated days.  The  Himalayan Lilies among the trees can be seen in early December.  Nearby there are a number of walks.


Church of the Holy Innocents, Mt Peel

The heritage-listed church and the cemetery sit  below Mt Peel and have been witness to floods, droughts and heavy snow .  The exterior was constructed from greywacke boulders from the Rangitata River.  It was named in remembrance of four infants who died between 1864 and 1869 and are buried in the cemetery.  The land for the church was donated by the Aclands, and the first service was held in 1869.


Church entrance


The interior of the church is made of pit-sawn native timber, and the altar rails of knotted totara. The church has recently undergone $1.6 million of repairs after damage from the 2010 earthquake.  Amongst other damage, the stained glass windows at the front collapsed.  Much of the broken glass, some of it just splinters and shards, was saved by the family and used in restoration.  The church was re-opened in 2017.


Faith and Charity , and The Christ-Child Seated on a Rainbow

The Faith and Charity window is one of the windows on the side walls.  It was donated in 1920 in remembrance of an Acland family member.


Bell from Loughborough Bellfoundry in Leicestershire, England


Headstone in cemetery

The headstones in the cemetery reflect  the history of family and friends of the Aclands.  One of the headstones is that of Hugh John Dyke Acland (known as Jack) who farmed Mt Peel Station and was a politician and wool board member.  Jack was the grandson of the original owner, John Barton Arundel Acland, who was also a politician.


The homestead

Close to the church is the  homestead, built in the 1860s and still used as a family home.  It was one of the first permanent material homesteads in Canterbury.


Avenue of Himalayan Lilies

Among the trees close to the homestead is a profusion of scented Himalayan Lilies, which bloom in early December.  They have  flourished under trees in the estate’s garden since the 1890’s.  Originally the lilies had been confined to pots in the estate’s conservatory until the conservatory roof blew off and the lily seeds spread.  Each year the family hosts a lily day, when there is access to the homestead, however the public can wander around the lilies at other times.





Just down the road from Mt Peel Station there are several signposted walks. One of them is a pretty bush walk to Acland Falls, which takes 50 minutes return.


Acland Falls


Below Acland Falls

A detailed history of the church can be found here.

Information on more Peel Forest walks can be found here.




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