Wednesday, 16 December 2015

200 year old Scottish Church St. Andrews

One of the oldest Scottish churches.St.Andrews Church,Chennai. en.wikipedia.org'
One of the oldest churches. St. Andrews Church,Chennai,
de.wikipedia.org

Because of the British presence for a pretty long time,  coupled with influence of other European countries in India, there are innumerable, majestic historical churches that are the constant reminders of British colonialism in India and the impact of foreign rulers on the Indian society. These churches, following different styles of architecture, were built to serve the British and other Christian faithfuls. These are just beautiful monuments frozen in past history. 

St. Andrews Church is  a popular one in Egmore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Often referred to as Kirk, it is one of the oldest living churches in the world. It still follows  the Scottish Presbyterian tradition of worship.  Built  on a site of 1780 'Free masonry lodge' near Ft. St. George, the land was  marsh  prone to flooding.  Despite this problem,  Major Thomas Fort De Havilland and Colonel Caldwell of Madras Engineers were  instrumental in the construction of this church that was consecrated in 1821 AD. Special care was taken to have a better and solid foundation foundation,  consisting of 14 feet circular masonry brick wells of 9  feet depth with a bed of pottery was dug to ensure that the building did not sink or fall apart because of the marshy land. The former was a traditional Indian style of foundation technique, 



Interior St. Andrews Church, Chennai.adosachennai.wordpress.com
 
sinking shafts in wet soil up to 23 feet in depth. 


Stained glass window panel.St Andrew Cathedral, Chennai www.virtualtourist.com
St Andrew Cathedral,Chennai. lifewithjeeves.wordpress.com

The East India Company bore the expenses towards the entire construction of this church.  This church, built in the Gregorian architecture style using St.Martin's Lane, London as a model,  has majestic  170 feet tall  steeples and has withstood the vagaries of time.

This church with towering steeples has indeed, as mentioned earlier,  stood the test of time and its grandeur and elegance have not yet diminished. With  51.5 diameter round sanctuary with 16 'Corinthian columns', it is one of the few monuments in the world to be supported by a columns of such height. This church is characteristic of  black and white checkered marble floor, beautiful mahogany wood work and special Syrian masonry technique and these enhance the majestic appearance and beauty of this historical church.

The church  has fantastic colored stained glass window panels of  St.Peter and St.Andrew, specifically brought from Scotland. The interiors are colored with  lapis lazuli giving the impression  of an 'azure sky' in the canopy of heaven.
 

The church's original bell was made  at a Gunpowder foundry in Bengal and erected by Major Havilland. However, this bell was dismantled and later another one was fixed. Reason:  The bell tolled for the first time on the funeral of Dr. Allan, the Kirk's First Minister and Revered Pastor; it was considered as a bad omen.

It is believed that the  pipe organ in the church is one of the oldest ones in Chennai. This 200 year old church, specially built for the Scottish community serving in the East India Company at that time, has the facade resembling  St Martin-in-the-Fields in London.


Ref:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Andrew%27s_Church,_Chennai