North Indian churches built in Gothic/Gothic-Revival style - 01

Gothic architecture flourished in Europe during the medieval period. Abbot Suger (about 1081–1151)  that reflects on the old traditional values, sensibilities  and classism  had begun to decline as the industrialization was in progress. Later structures carried overtones of radicalism and liberalism  and the Neo-Gothic style  lacked  creativity. Obviously, they looked drab, dull unreligious. Gothic Revival was introduced by conservative architects and thinkers  to revive the old style  associated with conservatism and deep-rooted old values  To them  Gothic architecture  was central to religious experience.    The Gothic Revival was supported by medievalism, which had its roots in antiquarian concerns of survivals.  This style was widely used in the churches and colleges in Europe. Gothic-Revival became a sort of pan-European movement. It came to India when the Raj started building memorials, government buildings and universities. The churches followed suit. 

The churches built during the colonial period  are architecturally impressive, and awe-inspiring and stand apart in the urban and  semi-urban space in India.

1. St. Paul’s Cathedral, Kolkata

St.Paul church, Kolkata, wikipedia. 

St. Paul church, Kolkata.

St.Paul Church, Kolkata,

St.Paul Church, Kolkata,

St. Paul’s Cathedral, first  Anglican cathedral in Asia Kolkata, best known for its  impressive Gothic revival architecture is the largest one in Calcutta. It is on the Chowringhee  road close to the famous Victoria memorial built by Lord  Curzon to honor Queen Victoria. This place of worship came up  to cater to the needs of growing population in the early 1800s. The  construction began in 1839 and completed  completed in 1847. Yet another distinction is it was  the first cathedral built in the overseas territory of the British Empire. The cathedral was restructured after two earthquakes in 1897 and 1834. 

St. Paul cathedral, Kolkata.

The church was designed by  military engineer, Major William Nairn Forbes (1796–1855)  of the EIC Army  along with  architect C. K. Robinson. The  design of spire and tower  was on the model of Anglican  Norwich Cathedral, Norfolk (it has  second largest cloisters in England).   St Paul, built on a plot of 7 acres of land  included  a chancel, a sanctuary, chapels and a 201 feet  tall spire; seating capacity 800 to 1000 people at a time.  The north  large entry  and gate made of wrought iron was named   Sir William Prentice Memorial Gate, after Sir William Prentice an active member of the congregation.   The cathedral (it was the largest span when built)  has the shape of a shallow curve arching over iron trusses decorated with Gothic tracery. Another noted feature is the nave of the cathedral is built spaciously without any aisles on its flanks.

Special light weight  bricks with good compression strength and well ground lime (chunum) used in the construction. The ashlars used were of Chunar stone. The external and internal walls of the   cathedral were plastered with fine chunam (lime plaster) in the form of stucco for extra protection from rain and seepage. The beautiful  stained color glass windows were designed by an English company and one of stained color glass windows on the west side in the half-sunk arches was dedicated to Lord Mayo who was assassinated   in  the Andaman islands on a visit  to supervise the famous Kala Pani jail (Cellular Jail) meant for criminals and hard-core freedom fighters. 

Bishop Daniel Wilson under whom  the cathedral work was finished finally and John Paxton Norman, an acting Chief Justice Calcutta high Court   were buried in the grave yard of the cathedral.,_Kolkata


02. The Christ Church, Shimla, HP:

Christ Church, the Ridge, Shimla, HP.

Stained glass windows,Christ Church (1850),Shimla,wikipedia

Shimla is the home to the oldest church in North India - the Christ Church, next to St. John's of Meerut city. Consecrated  on 10 January 1857 by Bishop Thomas Daltrey, Bishop of Madras, the era of British India, it is a fine example of the Neo-Gothic style. The estimated cost of construction at that time was Rs. 40,000 to  Rs. 50,000.The importance of  virtue of Faith, Hope, Charity, Fortitude, Patience, and Humility  is emphasized on the five  well-made stained glass windows of this church. The pipe organ of the church, the largest in India  is one of the oldest in this part and  was installed in September 1889, but was renovated in 1932.  The chancel window of the church  was designed by Lockwood Kipling (father of Rudyard Kipling). 

Christ Church. Shimla,

Christ Church built in an impressive area was meant to serve the large Anglican British community living in Shimla and nearby hills. . It is one of the long lasting legacies of British rule in this part of Shimla and in India. An important land mark in the capital city of Shimla, Himachal Pradesh it  was designed by architect  Colonel J. T. Boileau in 1844. It is an important heritage site in this city.


03. All Saints Cathedral, Allahabad, UP:

All Saints cathedral, Allahabad, UP, India.

All Saints Church, Allahabad,

All Saints Church, Allahabad, UP.

All Saints Church, Allahabad, UP.

Locally called Patthar Girja or The Church of Stone, its foundation stone was   laid by Lady Muir Elizabeth Huntly Wemyss in 1871. The church was consecrated in 1887 and the construction was completed in 1891.This impressive Anglican church  was built on a land  allocated by Sir Muir, the Lieutenant Governor of the North West Provinces. About the design Architect Sir William Emerson struck to   the Gothic style of 13th century European cathedrals, hence it stands apart in this neighborhood. Being a famous architect he designed  the Crawford Market in Mumbai and the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata. 

Gargoyle. All saints church, Allahabad. India

What is unique about the interiors is that the structure has high ceiling with  red tiled roof with vaulted hallways, classic columns,  and  porches for carriages, low windows that could be easily covered with mats to protect interiors from hot winds and dust. This design was implemented taking into account the hot tropical climate for much of the year in Allahabad. The  creamish white stone with fine red sandstone dressings on the exterior, the red tiled roof and fine stucco work enhance the look of the fa├žade. The other attractions are the Gothic arches, a tower, flying buttresses and snarling gargoyles (to drain out rains falling on the roof, etc).

An impressive altar with mosaic and marble inlay, artistic  pulpit, a  fine piece of workmanship in alabaster with three panels and excellent stained glass windows highlight the dominance of European architecture. The church  has several  plaques in honor of British people who died in these provinces.,_Allahabad