St. Mark's Church, Mercara Fort, Karnataka - early colonial Anglican church

St. Mark's Church,  Mercara, Karnataka Facebook
The St. Mark's Church, located within the Mercara Fort, Coorg, is one of the oldest churches in India and was built in  1859. Thanks to the efforts made by the  officers and men of the East India Company, that ran the proxy government in India for the British Crown.  The church building, it is recorded,  was funded by the Government of Madras and  it was  being managed by  the Church of England in India, Diocese of Madras. After India's independence the Church was closed  and in 1971 it came under the control of the Government of Karnataka. Now, it is converted into a museum under the management of  the Karnataka State Archaeological Department.
St. Mark's Church, Mercara (2013)
According to the history of this region, Coorg had been  under the rule of a Hindu king for several centuries and was a peaceful period. The invasion of  Hyder Ali and Tippu Sultan of Mysore in 1765 changed the peaceful political scenario that had marked this region for a long period. Their unjust rule, religious suppression and forceful conversion of non-Muslims to Islam  caused devastation and the people were not quite happy as they lived in a state of fear, anxiety and pain, particularly the  Kodava people at Seringapatam.  In the wake of the defeat of  Tippu Sultan in the Third Anglo–Mysore War (1789–92), Coorg became an independent land  under the suzerainty of the British. Later in 1834, the EIC took over the  Coorg Kingdom  from the last Raja Chikka Virarajendra who was forced to retire on an annual  pension of £12,000  and sent to  Khasi. Soon, a regiment of the Madras Army and British civil servants moved in and stationed here - Coorg to run the administration.

It is said the it was in the 
Regimental Mess of the Madras Army  the first church services for the officers and men at the Coorg Station were held.  The church records point out that  in 1842, the church service was conducted here by the  chaplain stationed at the Mangalore military station. In the 1850s not fewer than 90 people had attended the services.
St. Mark's Church, Mercara, en.
 Above image: St. Mark's Church, Mercara by Rev. Frank Penny's Book 'The Churchin Madras, vol III  .....................

In the late 1840s the ownership of this church became a contentious issue, As the church was funded by the Madras government, they wanted to control it. But the EIC officials made large contribution, so, Bishop Dealtry and others  wanted the new church  to be vested with the Bishop and Archdeacon of Madras. Finally, the  Governor-General of India interfered and decided in favor of the Government of Madras. The cost of construction of the church was BINR 9650. Rev.  One Rev.A Fenell was transferred to Coorg from Mangalore to look after the church affairs . On 19 April 1859, the new church  was consecrated by Bishop Dealtry  and named it after Saint Mark, the Evangelist. In 1883 the military regiment was withdrawn, however, the church membership never dropped as more and more Europeans moved over to this place to engage in Coffee plantations. Further, the added advantage was pleasant weather conditions in this mountainous region  and undeveloped wooded areas near-by.  In 1868, Rev. J W Wynch got a government grant to  modify the vestry into a chancel. This was completed in 1870. In 1881 and 1877 major repair work was done in the flooring and roof.  

The church built in the Gothic style, has stained glass decorative windows and rooms. The stained glass on the west window, depicting 'Lord as the Good Shephard' was raised in memory of Rev A Fenell (died 1897). The lectern was gifted by Mrs. J S Trelawney and the altar vases were donated by Mrs. J T Morgan The dimension of the building is: 48feet x 24feet. The chancel added in 1871, has a breadth of 20 ft. and a depth of 22 ft. The organ chamber was came up in 1896  through  local subscriptions,_Mercara