St. Martins Garrison Church of Delhi built in non-neo classical style with no Gothic elements

St. Martin’s Church, Delhi,

 colonial St. Martin’s Church, Delhi,

The  colonial St. Martin’s Church inaugurated in 1929 by the then commander-in-chief William Birdwood Bart and the daughter of   Arthur Gordon Shoosmith, one of the primary architects involved in the creation of the  new capital of the Raj under the Crown administration is in good shape now and the services are regularly held here. a historical church where Arthur Gordon Shoosmith' s daughter  was the first one to have been baptized on 17 February 1931. Shoosmith born (1888) and raised  in St Petersburg, Russia and  and Finland.  He was educated in England before attending the Royal Academy Schools in 1911.

Architect Lutyens’ Delhi dominates the narrative of British colonial  style which is not only visible in the residential areas but also  in the the Civil Lines area, developed to accommodate British officers and administrators, etc. The design style showcases numerous bungalows  often featuring verandas, large windows, and spacious gardens aiming to retain comfort  in a tropical country without compromising on  architectural beauty.

colonial St. Martin’s Church, Delhi,

 colonial St. Martin’s Church, Delhi,

 The church, located on  Church Road, Birjlal Dua Marg, Pratap Chowk, Delhi Cantonment, is a good example a fusion of  Indo-European and the architect carefully adopted the Western style of construction in non neo classical form using local construction materials with a view to suite the tropical weather condition and Delhi's hot summer season. This made the people attend the services quite comfortably indoors in all weather conditions. The design style is a departure from the strongly colonial style adopted across Delhi's civil lines.

About the church interior, it is similar to a Roman basilica with a big rounded dome at the  center, and several curved arches extending towards the vaulted roof. An interesting aspect is it is devoid of Gothic architectural elements as one find in many colonial churches in India. There is no such inclusion in the whole plan, but for the western styled  tower with brick buttresses and a visible cross that that is from outside.  No visible artificial  embellishments that impart artificiality. The only decorative feature is  a series of  arches at the entrance; the look of the place of worship is like the stepped pyramidal temples of ancient Mesopotamia.

British architect Sir Edward  Lutyens, who was entrusted to design a model township for the administration of the  Raj, was of the view a building made of a single material would have greater strength and his associate Shoosmith who designed this church agreed with him. The native construction material is  sourced locally. It is said  Shoosmith procured  three and a half million locally well burnt  bricks for the entire structure that externally looks like a fort with features like buttresses and parapets. The rust colored building is accentuated with glass windows to keep the interiors naturally lit. Rectangular in plan at the base, a slant is imparted to the structure   by the brickwork stepping inwards in sets. 

In 2000  restoration work was carried out with help from conservationists to save the church from further damages. The church roof was leaky and was not kept clean and tidy prior to 2000.  After protests from the heritage lovers and historians the structure was  saved from destruction. The work covered nave, aisles and choir, their peeling plaster walls, rickety parquet floors and damaged or missing furniture and fittings. The church has a spiral stairway to reach the upper level 

No doubt with clear planning and construction with right native material this fort like church  served as a sort of garrison church during the Raj and now the devotees come from all walks of life. I understand the Sunday mass is quite popular;  time for the people to be free from mundane life and engage in spiritual  aspects to keep the mind and soul at peace with the body.  Both Hindi and English services are regularly conducted here keeping the Anglican tradition and the unique choral heritage.