St. Mary's English Church Nadakavu, Kerala - British India

St. Mary's English Church, Nadakavu.

St. Mary's English Church, Nadakavu.
After the British Crown took over the administration from the East India company, the British established their strong presence in the Southern State of India  what is now called Kerala, more British military soldiers  and civilians moved in. At one point of time they needed Church services and decided to have a church built at a place called Nadakavu'.  No sooner had the original plan of this Church been first drawn up  in Gothic design by the then British Chief Engineer Col.Faber than the civil district administration and the British military were drawn into a controversy. Literally they were at loggerheads over the right location of the proposed church. While the British military wanted the church built at their barracks, considering their easy accessibility,  the British civil servants were particular about its location in a civil area.

This  unwanted controversy over simple a matter put  the project in cold storage  until a new Chaplin, Rev. Mickee, was appointed in 1860. Having come to know that both sides were not willing to give up their stand,  Rev. Mickee made a compromise deal with two adamant sides that  the proposed church  could be built at an equidistant location both from the military barracks and from the Civil Station. It so happened Nadakavu' was the most appropriate location for St. Mary's English Church.  

A fresh plan was drawn up by the  District Engineer Cap. Beans R. E., and the estimated  cost of the  project was  Rs.9085.00; part of the cost Rs. 4500.00 was borne by the Government through a grant and  rest of the cost was met by other sources, including donations from the local community.

 On 8 June, 1863 the foundation was laid  and the church was completed in September 1864 and later was consecrated by Bishop Gell on 28 September, 1864 and  named in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The church built in  Anglican traditions has a nice  Altar-piece which  is a replica of one of the paintings by the Italian renaissance artist, Raphael, named Madonna del Granduca; it is the only church in Kerala that has an impressive Altar-piece. The other notable features are wooden Tie Beam Roof truss,  combination of collar-braces, queen- post truss, and distinct wooden arches of oriental style (as found in the Persian architecture of North Indian monuments). Among the British churches in North Kerala, the arches  here are unique in style, without deviating from the English tradition. Of particular interest to the visitors is the Baptismal Font of the Church that is carved out of a single solid block of black wood ( commonly call Mahogany in West coast) by an unknown skilled local carpenter. 

 Yet another British tradition being followed here is  the lighting of candles during prayer Services and during Eucharistic Services.   One fascinating fact about  St. Mary's English Church is it is  the only Church in North Kerala Diocese where Eucharistic Service has been   conducted in the English language  ever  since its inception - 150 years ago. Indeed a great feat and the tradition continues even today.