The Original All Saints’ Church, Coedmore

[symple_toggle title=”THE ORIGINAL ALL SAINTS’ CHURCH”]

On 25 June 1866 Dean Green of Martizburg laid the foundation stone of the original All Saints’ Church at Coedmore. The events leading up to this historical event are as follows. On 24 July 1857 Mr Dering Stainbank arrived from England having been at sea for more than three months. His brother Ellerton had already settled on Coedmore, a farm on the Bellair side of the Umhlatuzana River. Mr Dering Stainbank also built his house at Coedmore which at that time was called Indaba Inkulu.

On Sundays, the Stainbank, Morrison and Hillary families met at the house of Mr and Mrs I.F. Neville Rolfe, called the Homestead, where they had a service in the morning and attended another family’s house for the afternoon service. The rest of the day was spent in visiting one another, usually staying for a meal and bathing in the river. This was a refreshing experience in the summer for the country was hilly and the tracks were rough. The men usually walked for horse sickness was common in the area. The ladies and children often went in ox-drawn carts. Mr Rolfe usually read the service but if he happened to be away it was taken by one of the Stainbank brothers. Occasionally a clergyman called and administered the Sacrament and baptised a baby. Sometimes Mr Dering Stainbank walked to St Paul’s in Durban or to Clairmont or even to Pinetown to attend a service.

On 24 June 1864 Bishop Gray of Cape Town and Mrs Gray arrived at Clairmont and held what must have been a long service in the afternoon. It began with the Litany and went on to a Confirmation service where several were confirmed. Mr Stainbank with his brother, Arthur, who had recently arrived with another brother Edward from England, rode over to this service as did Mr Rolfe. After the service the Bishop spoke to the people and suggested that they build a church and have a clergyman. The Bishop and Mrs Gray then rode to the Homestead with Mr Rolfe and the Stainbanks for tea. Perhaps as a result of this visit Mr Rolfe sailed for Cape Town in the following December to be made a deacon. He returned towards the end of January 1865 and a meeting was called at Bellair House to discuss the possibility of building a church. About twelve persons attended the meeting. They decided that two churches were necessary and that a start should be made on one at the northern end of the district where the population was greater. An amount of £70 (R140) was subscribed in the room and a committee was chosen to find a suitable site.

The committee had difficulty in finding suitable land for sale. Mr Dering Stainbank gave a site on his farm for one of the churches. After proving that the soil was suitable for building, the land was surveyed by Edward Stainbank and the bush cleared. Oxen were bought to pull a sledge for carting stone, etc. Mr Stainbank bought timber from Pietermaritzburg and Durban and lime was brought in ox-drawn carts from the kiln at Congella while the windows were ordered from England and at Coedmore bricks were made and thatching grass was cut. A stonemason, Mr Chaddock, was employed to do the building while Mr Stainbank and his labourers cleared the ground, levelled it and often helped with building, for example, when he noticed that the chancel was out of line with the nave.

Mr Chaddock started work on Tuesday 19 June 1866 and on the following Saturday Mr Stainbank met, seemingly by chance, Dean Green of Martizburg who had just returned by ship from Cape Town and was in Durban for a few days. At about 3.30pm on the afternoon of Monday 25 June 1866 there gathered at the side the Dean with three other clergy, The Revd Delamere, The Revd Walter Baugh of Umlazi and Revd Neville Rolfe, all the Stainbank family and their neighbour members of the Hillary family and C Dacom and Mr Fry of Durban. The Dean took a short service and laid the foundation stone under which Mr Ellerton Stainbank placed a bottle containing a parchment on which was written,

“ALL SAINTS’ CHURCH, COEDMORE ON MONDAY, 25 JUNE, 1866. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. This Foundation Stone of All Saints’ Church, Coedmore, was laid in the Name of Him who is the Chief Corner Stone of the Church, by the Very Revd James Green, M.A., Dean of Pietermaritzburg, to the Glory and for the Worship of Almighty God, on the Twenty fifth day of June, in the year of Our Lord God One Thousand eight hundred and sixty six, many pious persons of the Mother Church in England, moved thereto by the Holy Spirit, aiding by their benefactions.”

After the service Mrs Ellerton Stainbank served refreshments. The benefactors in England included Mr Stainbank’s parents, and as his mother’s birthday, and also Mrs Rolfe’s, were on 1st November it was fitting that the Church’s dedication should be to All Saints.

The Church was completed and the girls of the school that Mrs Rolfe was running at the Homestead subscribed for a font which the mason cut from stone on Coedmore. The first service in the new church was held on Sunday, 25 August 1867 when the Revd Neville Rolfe baptised Mr and Mrs Ellerton Stainbank’s fifth child, Henrietta Marian Jessie, the sponsors being, according to the register, Miss HME Stainbank, Miss ME Stainbank, Mr RB Tanner and Mrs Tanner. Mr Stainbank wrote,

“The Church looked very well, Ellerton and Rolfe having done it up during the week, levelled the floor and put in window frames temporarily ornamented with evergreens.”

Unfortunately at a later date some youngsters set fire to the thatched roof and the Church was burned down, not to be re-built, for with the departure of the Rolfes to England and the closing of the school, the congregation had departed. However, when the present All Saints’ Church at Bellair was built the windows and font, which had been carefully stored at Coedmore, were incorporated in the new building. The bell, which as an old ship’s bell belonging to Mr Stainbank’s father, was lent to a church at Umgeni, and to quote Mrs Dering Stainbank, “we had to ask very nicely, when the time came, to have it back.” It is now supported by two Natal Government Railway metals and still calls to worship the All Saints’ congregation and among them the Stainbanks of Coedmore.

The Vineyard, June 1966.[/symple_toggle]

[symple_toggle title=”ALL SAINTS’ CHURCH, BELLAIR”]

All Saints’ Church, Bellair, as you will see on the foundation stone in the East wall, was erected by public subscription in AD 1892. Towards the end of 1891 a committee was formed to collect between £400 and £500 (R800 – R1000) which was thought to be sufficient to build a church. Members of the committee were Mr Dering Stainbank, who gave the site on the main road, now Sarnia Road, Mr Charles Hitchins, Mr N H H Fisher and Mr Downing. These gentlemen went around Durban besides Bellair and Malvern asking for donations. People evidently gave liberally for early in the next year Messrs Street-Wilson and Barr made plans for a church and tenders were called for. When the envelopes were opened it was found that the builders wanted from £500 and £700 (R1000 – R1400), considerably more than was expected. Suggestions were made to cut down on the plans or to buy their own materials and contract for labour only. Evidently difficulties were overcome for Mr George Lawrie of Durban was engaged to build. On 12 March 1892 the men met to mark out the foundations. Others were there including the Revd. Ainslie Turpin, Vicar of the Parish. The vicarage at this time was at Isipingo where St James’ Church had been built some years earlier.

It was decided to have no foundation stone laying ceremony but a stone was built into the east wall with the inscription, “This Church was built by public subscription AD 1892, Street-Wilson and Barr Architects, Durban, Geo Lawrie, Builder.” The windows from All Saints’, Coedmore were used in the new church and also the font which had been given by the girls of the Homestead School and had been saved from the fire. The bell was also from the Coedmore church. The church was small when built. The congregation entered by the door facing the main road and the nave extended only about a foot beyond this. Later the church was enlarged when St Monica’s Home was moved to Hillary in June of 1920. The first service, on 25 October 1892, was taken by the Revd H L Johnson, Vicar of St Cyprians, then in Smith Street.[/symple_toggle]

[symple_toggle title=”THE ASCENSION WINDOW”]The Ascension window was given by the Stainbank family in memory of Mr Dering Stainbank who died on 13 July 1907. The window was made in England. On the way out the ship was lost but fortunately the firm had a copy of the design and another window was made. This arrived safely and soon added to the dignity and beauty of the chancel[/symple_toggle]

[symple_toggle title=”THE ST FRANCIS WINDOW”]The St Francis window was given by James and Elizabeth Keith in memory of Elizabeth’s parents, Kenneth and Gwen Stainbank, who died on 12.11.1982 and 24.10.1982 respectively. The artist who designed and constructed the window is Guido van Besouw. It depicts St Francis surrounded by the typical flora, fauna and birds found in the Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve.[/symple_toggle]

[symple_toggle title=”SACRED VESSELS”]

A number of sacred vessels have been given in memory of various persons. The sacred vessels include :

a) a ciborium given in memory of Elizabeth Hodson, daughter of the Revd Howard and Mrs Hodson, by her Godfather Vernon, Bishop of Natal. (Elizabeth died on 2.11.1961)

b) A chalice which was originally owned by the Very Revd James Green, Dean of Maritzburg, 1849 – 1906, and given to All Saints’ Church, Bellair by his granddaughter Mrs J P Jeudwine and her husband the Revd G P Jeudwine

c) a paten given by Revd G P and Mrs Jeudwine in memory of their eldest son Harold Phelps Jeudwine. (Died R A F Bomber Command, Crème, 25 May 1941)

d) a wafer box given in memory of Ruth Dering Stainbank who died at the age of 18 on 30 August 1947, given by her parents

e) an alms dish given by the All Saints’ Women’s Guild and friends, in memory of Ethel Stainbank. (Died 20 November 1942) and

f) a private communion set given by the people of Hednesford, Staffordshire, England to the Revd William Collet, Vicar of Hednesford. It is unknown how this came to be given to the parish.[/symple_toggle]

[symple_toggle title=”THE RECTORY”]The rectory was built during the time of the Revd Herbert Jones in 1905 – 1910. The architect was Mr Ritchie, who also designed a house of similar style near where the Hon. Jameson used to live. The rectory used to be in Wakesleigh Road and the roof was blown off during a storm. The Revd Herbert Jones recalled that his mother’s sewing machine still bore the marks of the wetting that it received when the roof was blown off during that storm.[/symple_toggle]


The plain facts are these. In the Bellair district of the Parish of Umhlatuzana, in the Diocese of Natal, there lived a widowed lady who presided over an estate, itself perhaps unique in all South Africa. The house, which stands in grounds of stone some three hundred-odd acres, is built to resemble an old English castle with tower, battlements, embrasures and all complete even – as their friends facetiously observe – down to the “dungeons” which are, in fact, no more than unusually spacious cellars!.

The widowed lady was Ethel Stainbank; her husband had been dead more than thirty years when this story opens, so that she was in very deed the “Matriarch”, as some of her friends affectionately called her. She was a very devout churchwoman and for many years Enrolling Member of the Mothers’ Union; a friend to the poor and a mother to all – without regard to race or colour. She died in 1942 and people of all races came from miles around to attend her funeral.

But here is the event which deserves record for all time. At the Memorial Eucharist which was being celebrated at the church which was, most appropriately, dedicated to All Saints, an elderly woman, herself a devout Christian, described a vision which she saw upon that occasion. It was a most vivid and moving experience, and it is perhaps best described in her own words :

“In the midst of the sanctuary, where the priest was celebrating the Holy Mysteries, I saw a great and wonderful light. Ethel Stainbank was standing there and beside her was the figure of her late husband and her two sons, William and Arthur (killed in the Great War of 1914 – 1918). She appeared to be looking for someone and at that instant the figure of Christ appeared, as it were, ‘coming round a corner’. Ethel seemed embarrassed at having nothing to offer Him, and, seeing this, her husband said, ‘But you have your Crown’, which was, in fact, plainly to be seen on her head. She raised her hands as though to offer the Crown to her Lord, and the vision vanished.”

The artist has sought to catch the principal features of this vision and the figures seen in the vision are depicted on the lower part of the window. The smaller pictures above the main theme are illustrative of the acts of mercy and kindness for which she was so justly famous.

The artist who designed and constructed the window is Miss W Vann Hall, of the Ezayo Studios.

The Vineyard, 5 January 1949[/symple_toggle]