Sunday, 25 December 2016

St. Andrew’s Church (1866), Bangalore - Scottish legacy


There are several  historical colonial churches in India that remind us of the Scottish legacy.  During  the EIC rule, numerous Scottish people worked for the company and its military operations  and  churches were built out of necessity  in places like Kolkata, Madras, Bangalore, etc to cater to the religious needs of Scots and their families. These places accounted for a large European community.

St. Andrew’s Church,  named after the patron saint of Scotland, St. Andrew is on the Cubbon road, Bangalore.  This historical Presbyterian church built in orthodox Presbyterian Scottish architecture, with a tall belfry and chiming clock at the apex of its tower is yet another landmark in this area of this big city  and it was open to the public on  18 November 1866. The Rev. Stewart Wright, one of the  chaplains of the Church of Scotland in the Madras Presidency, and pastor in charge of the newly formed congregation preached the dedication sermon. Two years earlier on 22 November 1866 the foundation stone for this impressive structure was laid  by none other than  Lady Grant, wife of Lieutenant-General, Sir Hope Grant, the then Quartermaster-General of Her Majesty’s Forces. It is recorded that total cost of this place of worship was  Rs. 45,000/- inclusive of plot.  The net  the  cost of interior decorations etc., was partly borne by the public subscription  and by the government. When St. Mark church was damaged in a fire accident in on 17 February  1923, its patrons were accommodated in this  church till it was rebuilt in 1927.

Andrews Kirk, Bangalore (around 1895. en.wikipedia.org
A fascinating  pipe organ was  installed on 3.5.1881 by its builders
Clock Tower, St. Andrew's (2004). en.wikipedia.org
Peter Gonacher and Co., Huddersfield, England to be used during services. However, because of pretty long use, wear and tear after more tan 125 years of glorious service, the pipe organ showed signs of cracking.  Because it is an antique and is part of a heritage site under the restoration project it was restored back to its old glory, beauty and sound. The restoration work was meticulously done by an English company - M/s Middle Organ Company. The highlight of worship  service of  re-dedication  was the great music exponent  Prof. Dr. Richard Marlow, Director of Music, Trinity College, UK was  invited to perform an Organ Recital on this renovated Organ on the evening 4th of January, 2009. 

St. Andrews church. .Bangalore, Alamy
The Church,  then known as St. Andrew’s Kirk, used to  celebrate St. Andrew’s day, Burns’ night and so on. After India's independence in 1947, this  Church  became part of  Church of South India (CSI). Actually it joined the CSI in September 1959. Presently it is under the Central council of  Karnataka Diocese with the Bishop as the head.
restored pipe organ istalled in 1881. en.wikipedia.org
Considered as one of the beautiful churches in India  Major Sankey (an Irishman from Tipperary), chief Engineer and  Mr. R. C. Dobbs, the Executive Engineer of Mysore were responsible for the design and execution of the work to the minute details. Earlier Sankey designed the Anglican Cathedral of All Saints at Nagpur. The dimension  of this brick colored Gothic structure is 105 feet (L) X 57 feet (width) X 43 feet (height). Thee impressive features of this church  that catch our attention  are large gables with stained glass windows  and the impressive 90 feet tall tower. the richly ornate pulpit is made of quality teak wood; the most impressive being the  25 ft. stained glass above the altar. It is a careful fusion of  15 panels into one, created by Scottish artist Alex Ballantine and his assistant Gardiner, in order to commemorate the diamond jubilee of the reign of Queen Victoria in 1897. At the base are the  paintings of the Old Testament characters of Abraham, Moses, King David and Prophet Isaiah. The apostles of Christ - St.Andrew, St Peter, St Paul and St John are at top. The symbol of the church of Kirk is noticeable above -  the burning bush along with  alpha symbol on the right and omega symbol on the right (signifying beginning and the end). On the very top is painted Jesus Christ. This pulpit along with harmonium was gifted to the church by the ladies of the congregation. In the mid 2000s, the restoration of this heritage  structure was completed,  coinciding with 146 anniversary - Nov. 2006. It was done under the expert guidance of the Engineers from the Indian Inst. of Sciences, Bangalore. 
Stained color glass panel St. Andrews church. . bangalore.citizenmatters.in

Tit-bits:

01. The church was consecrated in memory of Mary Elizabeth McGoun (died 1867), wife of Col. Thomas McGoun of the 6th Madras Native Infantry (died 19 April 1868 at Marseilles on the way back to Scotland. There is  a memorial stone at the St. Andrew's Kirk, Madras. The monument to the memory of Mary Elizabeth is located at the end of the church altar.

02.  Native Indians were allowed to sit in the back pews. The Church mainly catered to the  Scottish military personal of the local area of Madras Presidency and Scottish civilians. They formed the main congregation then. 

http://standrewschurch.org.in/brief_history.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Andrew's_Church,_Bangalore