St. Mary's Church In The Fort

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Location : Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Famous As The: First Anglican Church
Built In: 1678-79


St. Mary's Church is the first Anglican Church in Chennai, located in the premises St. George Fort. St. Mary's Church was built in 1678-80 and it is also the oldest surviving British Church in India. St. Mary's Church is often described as the Westminster Abbey of the East.

During the tenure of Governor Streynsham excavations for the Church building began and its construction was completed in 1679. The Church was christened St. Mary's as its foundation was laid on the Annunciation day of the Virgin Mary (the feast observed by Christians to mark the day when Mary was told of God's plan that she would be Mother of Jesus).

St. Mary's Church was built largely from personal donations. The original building was about 60ft. by 90ft. Its outer walls were 4ft thick and its roof 2ft. thick and bomb proof. The original structure of the building, which William Dixon built and Edward Fowle embellished, was in rectangular shape made with brick and polished in lime, with a bomb proof, curved roof.

Later Additions
Few additions made later include the Sanctuary, Steeple (1710), Tower (1701) and the Vestry. The Spire to the Church was added in 1795 and was designed by Colonel Gent. The interior of the Church has beautiful wooden work and stained glass arches. In 1985, artisans, from Karaikudi, undertook a major restoration work.

A huge painting of The Last Supper drawn by an unknown artist is only one of the attractions to the visitors. The tombstones, memorial tablets on the six detached pillars and the Church Records bring back memories of the city's past. The Church also has the earliest register of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials in the country. The Visitors Book, dating from 1903-1947, is also an interesting piece from the past.

A Monumental Place Of Worship
St. Mary's started, as a Church of the first congregation, then became the Governors congregation. Later it became a Garrison Church and today it remains a monument protected by the Archaeological Survey of India.

One can find reminders in the Church of Clive, who was married here in 1753, and of Elihu Yale, the early Governor of Chennai who later founded the famous American University bearing his name.

HOW TO GET THERE

Air: Chennai has an airport with national and international terminals. Regular flights connect Chennai with the major cities within the country and countries like Singapore, America, U.K., etc.
Rail: Chennai is well connected by rail with all the major places within and beyond the state.
Road: State transport buses and private buses connect Chennai with the major towns and cities within the state and country. For local transportation local trains, city buses and auto rickshaws are available.

WHERE TO STAY

Being the capital city of the state Chennai is well equipped with luxury as well as budget and economy class hotels for accommodation.



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