Erskine College

History

Erskine College, located in Island Bay, Wellington, is listed as a Category One Historic Place and is a former Catholic girls’ boarding school. Originally constructed in 1905/06, the building was named the Convent of the Sacred Heart, and it was intended that its structural design be a combination of French Gothic and Edwardian Collegiate architecture. The chapel (Chapel of the Sacred Heart) wasn’t built until 1929/30. The name was altered in the late 1960’s, to avoid confusion with the Sacred Heart College which is located in Lower Hutt, Wellington. The site was named after Mother Janet Erskine Stuart, the fifth Superior General of the Society of the Sacred Heart. Although the site fell into a state of decay in the 1990’s, Learning Connexion art school reoccupied the buildings between 1997 and 2009; during this time the chapel was also refurbished and used for small wedding services. The entire site was declared unsafe in 2012 due to the increased fears of earthquake threats, and it has since remained abandoned.

Our Version of Events

Just as I was preparing to depart New Zealand, it was decided that there was an hour to kill. Erskine College suddenly jumped onto the cards because there were rumours of a chapel lurking within its depths that has been largely unexplored. After a quick food stop at New World, we made our way to the old college on the hill. Quite conscious that I’d put on some cleaner clothes for the flight home, we made our way through some rather muddy woods at the back of the site – to avoid detection and make for a better story. Despite the rain pouring from the trees, and the steep muddy slopes, we managed to reach a point of entry largely unscathed and clean. I even managed to climb up the site of the building and through a window without getting my hands dirty; or so I thought at the time.

Sure enough, after ten minutes of wandering, there she was!.. A chapel which was, for the most part, quite pristine, save for the odd crisp packet. By this point though, time was ticking away fast, so we quickly made every effort to grab as many photos as possible. As it turns out, however, I think I should have aimed for quality over quantity, as many of my photographs came our rather blurry on account of my rushing around. Unfortunately, because of the time limit and the sheer size of the site, we only managed to explore a fraction of the college, but, I guess a quick explore is better than no explore! Afterwards, we raced to the airport so I could check my bag in (early bag check-ins for international flights apparently), then, after a beer in the airport bar, we quickly left again to check out an abandoned prison. Up on the hilltop, however, we managed to get a flat tire after driving over a particularly large piece of rock, and so, after fitting the spare, I decided it was time to stop fucking around and go get the plane. Sure enough, back at the airport I soon discovered that my trousers had half the hillside on them, and plenty of chapel plaster dust… And so, that’s how my journey to New Zealand ended; trying desperately, ten minutes before my flight, to brush off all the ‘foreign contaminants’ before I attempted to leave the country and re-enter the UK.

Explored with Nillskill.

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