Sunday, 3 July 2016

Havelock memorial Chapel, first Baptist chapel of Agra, India

Havelock memorial Chapel, Agra, UP. www.colonialwalkagra.com


The Havelock Memorial Chapel, Agra. Illustration for The Illustrated London News, 14 August 1875.www.lookandlearn.com/
Agra city near Delhi is home to the world famous  beautiful marble structure the Taj Mahal. It is a mausoleum built centuries ago by the Mogul ruler Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. Not many people are aware that there are many colonial British buildings built by the British when this area was under their control and they speak volumes of their legacy in this part of the subcontinent. It was in 1829 Agra  became a British possession. Havelock Memorial Church, built in honor of one of the British generals of the Indian Mutiny of 1857, is located in the army cantonment area at Agra, Uttar Pradesh.  The other British buildings of interest are Queen Mary’s Library, Central Post Office and Circuit House.

The Havelock Chapel is an old and historical building that was built in classical  style through public subscription. Fittingly it was named after Sir Henry Havelock,  who  took the initiative and built the first ever  Baptist chapel in Agra in  1832. In 1873 an extension to the chapel was  added  by the  Baptist  missionary the Rev. Gelson Gregson. Considered as one of the most complete Chapel, a sum of  Rs.12,000.00 was spent on the building and the furniture. The purpose of this Chapel was to serve the English soldiers and others who needed the church services. That is the reason why this  Chapel has a large reading room  and library for the use of soldiers from the nearby garrison. The major employer was the British East India company. The  huge building measures 105 feet  by 500 feet. The Chapel catered to  people of various ranks. The 13th Regiment contributed liberally for the construction of the first Chapel and the 65th  Regiment later made liberal donation for the construction of the extension building.Besides, many British higher-ups made monetary contribution for the successful completion of this chapel.

One will be surprised to know that the founder of  the well-known travel company (Thomas Cook and Co) Mr. Thomas Cook,  contributed more than one thousand books  to the library called the Havelock Library. There is a  portrait of him kept in the library. 

It is an impressive building  built in Gothic style with  gentle Gothic arches  and corrugated iron roof and it has large enclosed verandahs paved with red and white sandstones. They are used as aisles and the library hall is easily accessible from sides.
  
Sir Henry Havelock, is  still remembered for his valuable contribution for his services to the British society in and around Agra and this Chapel is his prized work undertaken with hard work and perseverance. The Havelock Memorial Chapel will take us right back to the colonial days that saw so many ups and downs, change of so many high officials and military regiments who played a greater role in the establishment of the British Empire across the globe, using India as a spring board.
Ref:
http://wiki.fibis.org/index.php/Havelock_Memorial_Chapel