St. Olav’s Church, Serampore - 211 year old Danish church restored to old glory

St. Olav’s Church,  Serampore. Twitter

Restored Danish Church, Serampore. UCAN India Mobile Sit

Locally known as the Danish Church, St. Olav’s Church  located on Dr. Bishwanath Jot Sarani at Tin Bazar near Serampore court in  Serampore city is a historical place of worship. Serampore was then known as  Frederiksnagore and this small Danish colony had the unique distinction of having 100 plus buildings constructed  between 1755 and 1845 under the Danish rule. Way back in the 18th and 19th centuries this town in the Hooghly district, was colonized by the British, French and the Danish and the countless monuments here reflect different styles of these colonies.

St Olav's Church Serampore

St.Olav’s Church, Serampore.

This old and beautiful Danish church has a fine open portico at the entrance with  twin columns under a broken-base pediment containing the royal monogram of Christian VII, king of Denmark. The bell-tower on the portico had a clock, but the church bells, it is said, are never used. The bells were apparently made in  a Danish factory here in 1804 as suggested by the inscription "Frederiksvaerk 1804". The church is flat roofed, both inside and out. Of particular interest to architects is the fact, the flat- roofed church does not exhibit any Scandinavian design and the architecture design falls within the realm of British style, resembling  contemporary churches in British India, in particular, those in Calcutta. Many of these  churches were modelled after popular British styles  such as  that of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London.

Interior Of The Danish Church,Serampore WB.

Administered by the Calcutta Diocesan Trust Association, the 211-year-old church had been closed to public  since 2013 as the roof  caved in. However,
St.Olav’s Church, Serampore. Wikimedia//Creative Commons

in April 2016 after extensive repair and restoration work, the historical church was given a new lease of life, retaining the old charm and beauty.
The credit goes to  Serampore College and architectural firm Continuity  and  the National Museum of Denmark (NMD) who mutually collaborated to make this project a success  The restoration team included Conservation architect Manish Chakraborti from Kolkata and Dr Flemming Aalund from NMD. The conservation project was rewarded by the 2016 UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Awards. Reports point out that the original doors, windows and furniture were restored without tampering their heritage value. As for flooring, it was  relaid with sandstone from Rajasthan. Lime mortars and organic pigments were used on all walls, following the original color scheme established through a careful scientific paint analysis. The total cost of restoration was about Rs. three crores and it was borne by Danish organization Realdania and National Museum of Denmark.