|St Stephen's Church - Calcutta - 1849commons.wikimedia.org.|
|Diamond Harbour Rd, Kidderpore. double-dolphin.blogspot.com|
|St Stephen's Church - Calcuttadouble-dolphin.blogspot.com|
Typical Gothic in architecture, the steeple was not built to look like a rocket. Rather, the architect designed it to look like a ship’s lantern from the old days. Perhaps, we may be wondering why the Church that has a steeple resembling a ship’s lantern is constructed on Diamond Harbour Road. The answer is simple and is linked to its proximity to the docks in Kidderpore docks and the houses of sailors and seafaring people. There is a likelihood that this would have been the first Church to be seen by a any new comer to this place traveling East towards the city after getting off the ship. St. Stephen’s Church was close to the St. Thomas Boys’ School in Kidderpore Bazaar and the school is functioning well today.
It was in 1846 the Church was consecrated and on the 6th of January, 1844 its foundation stone was laid by the Governor General, Edward Law, 1st Earl of Ellenborough, along with the Venerable Archdeacon and Rev Thomas Dealtry. This church is believed to have been frequently visited by the Governor General and his family members whose residence was at Belvedere. That place is converted into a library. Having been established as a Chaplaincy in 1848, it became a parish church in 1870.
The church has an impressive interior with fine architectural style. There are are two closets, on both sides of the altar and they are meant for nuns, who may have received their communion through windows in the closets. There are many plaques on the walls, the older among them commemorating European dead, whereas the newer ones are Indian. Among the older plaques is one for Edgar Belhouse, 3rd officer of the ship Khyber, who was drowned in the Hooghly on 11th May, 1890. Because of its proximity to the wharves on the Hooghly, many of the plaques inside the church commemorate former parishioners who died at sea. Behind the altar stands a very large and strikingly beautiful stained glass window as well as a fine pulpit. The Church also has an original organ which has fallen into disrepair; it is not functional now. After India's freedom, because of the departure of a large chunk of Christians in this location, the community became a small one and the church, unfortunately, fell into disuse. Owing to sheer negligence and poor upkeep, this old legacy of the colonial period had begun to rot leading to the collapse of beams causing cracks in the ceiling and promoting leaks. The windows took the beatings as well. The members of the church in 2013 began to take steps to repair and restore the church back to old glory, Obliviously, they depended on donations from the public. The credit goes to the students of the adjacent St. Thomas School. many of whom were congregants of the church. Through their sustained efforts and with cooperation from the heritage lovers of West Bengal and others later, the church was saved from near oblivion, and now it is in good shape. However, the original marble flooring was not saved and relaid with a new one.