Barry Cox's "Tree Church" arose from his lifelong fascination with ecclesial architecture and love of nature
It started with an epiphany. New Zealander Barry Cox was suddenly struck by the desire to build a church… in his backyard, and made out of trees.
“I walked out my back door one day and thought, ‘That space needs a church’ – and so it began,” Cox, a devout Catholic, told New Zealand Gardener.
A former altar boy whose childhood aspiration was to become the pope, Cox developed an interest in church architecture as an adult. He spent his vacations traveling throughout New Zealand, Europe and America studying “the proportions, angles, heights and pitches of church roofs, walls and porticoes.”
“I cleared the area in April 2011 and made the iron frame, drawing on all the research I had done over the years of studying churches. I wanted the roof and the walls to be distinctly different, to highlight the proportions, just like masonry churches,” he told New Zealand Gardener.
The idea for his “Tree Church” sprang as much from Cox’s love of trees as from his fascination with church architecture. He is the owner of Treelocations, which specializes in re-homing semi-mature trees.
Cox’s “Tree Church” is now a popular spot for weddings. While he had originally planned to build it for his own enjoyment, Cox agreed to let a nephew get married there, and soon word of this unique venue spread. In 2015 he opened it to the public for tours or private events.
In addition to the Tree Church, which seats 100, visitors can visit a labyrinth walk and extensive gardens.
While the church itself is constructed out of trees, from its roof to its walls, it features an altar from Cox’s family church in Shannon, New Zealand, which is made of marble from the Lake Como district in Italy, where Cox’s ancestors lived.