Saturday, 21 November 2015

St. Anne Church ,(1730) that got lost with time - colonial India

St. Anne Church, Fort William, Calcutta, c1730.George Lambert, puronokolkata.com
 During the early colonial days, the British East India company had a poor relationship with the local Muslim  Resident ruler and the political situation was volatile. So, there were frequent skirmishes  and clashes with the Mogul troops over the continuance of English company's operations in that region in violation of trade agreement between the two parties. Under these circumstances, the English people were unable to have a permanent  church in one place to meet their spiritual needs. St Anne church was the only available place of worship then.

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. 
Ref:
http://puronokolkata.com/2014/03/11/saint-anne-church-old-fort-william-calcutta-c1830/