Saturday, 1 April 2017

Fascinating Christ church, Lucknow - the first English church in N. India

Christ church, Lucknow, UP.Flickr com,

Christ Church in Lucknow city, Uttar Pradesh has the unique distinction of being the the first  historical  English church in Northern India and the third in the country. Located along with a school in the Hazratganj area, there had been no other English church was built between 1700 and 1819. The first English church was built in 1680 in Madras (Chennai) the famous  St. Mary's Church) where Robert Clive and E.Yale of Yale university fame got married. This was followed by the beautiful  St. John's Church in the city of Calcutta in1770.
Interior. Christ church, Lucknow,UP. double-dolphin.blogspot.

Christianity had been in India for centuries ever since the arrival of St; Thomas  in 52 AD  on the coastal Kerala and he established churches there long ago.  There is a mention of a Bishop in India and  in 325 AD and however the first European Church was built in Cochin in 1510  where Vasco da Gama was initially buried. In 1524 his mortal  remains were transferred to Lisbon where they were buried again in 1538. 

A sum of 540 pounds was spent on the Gothic Church in Lucknow  and additional money was spent on walls, gates, etc and the Church building was in the Residency area that belonged to the Nawabs of Awadh, Whether the Nabob built the church or bore the expenses for the EIC  is a subject of discussion.
construction 

The church is not a big one and could accommodate about hundred and thirty persons. The Church, following the  the Gothic style with twenty steeples on its top,  had a cross  built over the entrance on the north.  It was originally known as the Church of England and was designed by General Hutchinson. During the great rebellion - The Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, the church came under heavy attack by the rioting mobs, consisting mostly of Indian soldiers, The rebels (freedom fighters) made the worst attack on the church on July 31 and August 5, 1857. Because the British  used the church as a store-house for ghee. etc it became a main target by the rebels, were besieged and used the church as a store-house for ghee. Fortunately the British did not blow up the church as the situation became grim. Christ Church was designed by Lt. Swetenham of the Royal Engineers and was consecrated by Bishop Cotton on 26th November, 1860.
Christ church, Lucknow, UP. Pinterest
In the early stages, Christian burial grounds in India were away from the churches and and they were not built as part of the church. In India, earlier,  it was not the practise to have burial grounds attached to the churches. In Lucknow, a  strange situation  had developed where the garden of the church was converted into a cemetery. The first to be buried there were victims of the surprise attack by the rebels at Mandiaon cantonment on May 30, 1857.
Stained glass panels.Christ church, Lucknow, double-dolphin.blogspot.in

It was in 1857-58 St. Mary's Church faced severe damages by the mobs. Cconsequently,  in the next three years the tomb of Nawab Saadat Ali Khan at Khas Bazaar and later on at the Imambara Sibtainabad (Built on the grave of the fourth king of Awadh, Amjad Ali Shah) became make-shift  places of  Christian worship  including mass for Christmas.  
Stained glass panels.Christ church, Lucknow,double-dolphin.blogspot.in

Situated towards the east of G.P.O, in 1860, the church. in Hazrat gunj, became a  a memorial to the people who died in the rebellion.   and the  interior walls of the church still retain a large number of marble tablets and polished brass plaques erected in the memory of the British army officers, civilians and clergy that died during the conflict. 

One marble tablet in the transept is dedicated to James Grant Thomson, Deputy Commissioner of Muhamadee, who was murdered by the mutineers at Aurangabad in Oudh, June 5,h 1857, according to the inscription.  The church was enlarged and improved in 1904 and later in 1916. A belfry appears attached to the transept on the south. The bell tower  with a pointed spire  with a cross at the pinnacle. The cross is reported to have twisted  - just out of shape due to an earthquake in 1933.

 The stained glass trip-tych murals representing the iconic figures of the Christian faith  are quite impressive - the large one being in the backdrop of the altar on the east whereas the smaller one appears on the west, above the main entrance. The three panelled murals  framed within intersecting arches enhances the beauty of thr church interior.
Ref:
http://double-dolphin.blogspot.in/2015/08/christ-church-lucknow.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ_Church,_Lucknow

Hindustan Times, A Time in History
Wednesday 23.12.1998 — Early Churches of Lucknow