|St. Anne Church, Fort William, Calcutta, c1730.George Lambert, puronokolkata.com|
The Church of St Anne, built outside old William Fort during the operations of East India company in Kolkata , was consecrated on June 5, 1709. It was the oldest church in that region. Subsequently in 1722 the Church was in ruin because of lack of maintenance and unstable political conditions prevailing in those tumultuous days of the British company and the then ruler of Bengal. The main supporting huge wooden beam became rotten and weak as there was no protection against termites. Further, the beam in the dilapidated building was ready to cave in at any time. So, urgent repair became a necessity to retain the church. Two years after in September,1724 the Church was further damaged by powerful lightning strike. Restoration work was not taken up immediately for various reasons. With the temporary occupation of Calcutta by the Mogul troops , the English Settlement was wantonly damaged, and St. Ann’s, the first English Church, was reduced to a heap of rubble and trash by the invading Muslim army. When the British company gained their control back after some time, the site of the demolished church and the adjoining plot were granted to Thomas Lyon in 1776, after whom Lyons Range is named, to construct buildings to accommodate the junior servants of the East India Company or the writers. Incidentally. Lyon was acting on behalf of Richard Barwell, member of the council, when Warren Hastings was governor. Writers’ Building was the first three-storey building in Calcutta. Designed by Thomas Lyon in 1777, the Writers' Building had gone through several extensions over the years.