A visit to St Marys Church Chennai
The settlement called Madras is very young as it celebrates its 371st birthday today. This settlement slowly grew over the 300 odd years adding villages , older than itself to its boundaries, growing into the metropolis that we know today. Nestled in South India and often dubbed conservative by those who are yet to experience the multi dimension spirit of the city, the story of Madras , the settlement started with Fort St George. Probably it started even earlier , 371 years ago on this day when the Britishers leased a piece of fishing hamlet and converted into their southern headquarters. Ive dedicated an entire post last year to the birth of this city, but today, I would like to celebrate by speaking about the oldest surviving monument in the Fort complex – the St Mary’s Church on Church Street.
Built in 1680 , this is where apparently Robert Clive got married. You can ask to see the marriage register at the Fort Museum. Clive’s house , which was called Admirality House today houses the office of the ASI, but coming back to the church – this is probably one of the oldest Protestant churches in Madras. Designed by a gunner, built through local subscriptions, there are several tombstones and memorials here – of missionaries, governors and former officials and their families
A statue of General Conway, known as the soldier’s friend stands here , as he was known to improve conditions in the army.The organ , which is the fifth to be installed dates back to 1894 and is still played during service.The altar plate is said to donated by Elihu Yale, Governor of Fort St George and who later founded the Yale University in 1687 , but the most interesting aspect is a painting by an unknown painter. The painting is a replica of Raphael’s Last Supper , which is now in the Vatican. The British apparently brought the painting from Pondicherry in 1761 .
As the sun streams in from the garden, you sit here for a while and imagine the days of colonialism, the era of Black and White towns , of Armenians, French and British ruling over the country .