College on view at Open Christchurch weekend

24 May 2021

The College doors opened last weekend, and the public poured in to take advantage of Open Christchurch – an inaugural festival showcasing 46 of the city’s unique buildings.

So many visitors in fact, that the volunteer Old Boy tour guides and current students were amazed – at both the interest shown and the stories shared.

“I really loved the fact that I could share the history of the Dining Hall, but so many people came with information from their ancestors, things I didn’t know, including one whose relative had built the barracks that College students studied in from the early days,” says Richard Harnett of Flower’s House.

“A lot of people were interested in the function of the Dining Hall today, and as a boarder I was able to explain how it was used on a daily basis – where we were served three meals a day – plus its role as a venue for special functions.”

College had three of its iconic buildings open to the public – the Hare Memorial building, the Library and the Dining Hall.

“There were some Old Boys; there were young families. One man asked if I’d been to Europe, and when I said ‘no’ he said to be sure to go, but that I’d got it all here anyway, gesturing to the Dining Hall.”

Thimeth Wiesinghe, Year 12 from Julius House was another who helped – showing people through the library.

“We would have had at least a couple of hundred people through on Saturday afternoon. There were a lot of questions about the school, how it operates today, and there were opportunities to talk about its good scholarship programme, and the school’s ethos of encouraging boys to do service activities. It was quite cool talking to people who were keen to hear what I said, and it was fun to see how much interest there is in the school, and the important role it obviously fills in the wider city.”

He thought it was an excellent idea for the school to open its doors to the public, to show what is on offer, and to make it a bit more accessible.

Assistant Director of Drama Robyn Peers says Dr Jessica Halliday and the City Council saw Open Christchurch as a chance to highlight both heritage and new builds in the central city, and as a way to bring people into the inner city.

“It was so successful – a great initiative. College had the oldest building of the 46 venues on offer – Big School, which was built in 1863.”

Robyn gave the visitors a brief introduction to College and its buildings, and explained College life today and the House system.

“It was wonderful to see so many people interested in our built environment and curious about our school.”