The Great Hall (1882)
Now open to the community and available for hire, the Great Hall has been extensively strengthened, repaired and restored, although most of this work is intentionally hidden beneath its beautiful heritage fabric.
In June 2016, the meticulous care that went into its restoration was recognised in the Canterbury Heritage Awards, with it taking out both the Supreme and Seismic awards.
History and heritage
Because classroom space was in short supply, a hall was considered a luxury for Canterbury College. The Great Hall opened to both acclaim and controversy on Diploma Day 1882.
In its early years, it housed the College’s small library and was used for public lectures and formal graduation ceremonies. Over time, the University allowed greater use of the hall for events such as music recitals, student dances and society gatherings. Prior to the earthquakes, the great hall held a wide range of events and performances year-round.
The Great Hall provides a strong reflection of local heritage and culture. It makes rich use of native timbers, with kauri and rimu panelling, along with rewarewa, totara and matai lozenges.
It provides space for memorial plaques and icons, the first of which was dedicated to Helen Connon, the first woman to graduate with honours in the British Empire.
In 1938, a large stained glass window was dedicated to the sacrifices of College students in the First World War. This Memorial Window was rededicated in 2016 after its restoration following the Canterbury earthquakes.
The Great Hall contains the cremation ashes of Professor Bickerton, commemorated by a memorial plaque.