TODAY -

Four Churches in one compound

S Balakrishnan *



A 'walk' during Madras Week a few years ago revealed surprising aspects – four Churches in a single compound ! And three of them more than 200 years old !

As if these two surprises were not enough, the cemetery attached to the Church had more surprises – a grave as old as 1795 (the first one here), a grave of a soldier who guarded Napoleon at St. Helena, another of a war hero against Tipu Sultan, etc.

First mention about the earliest of these Churches is in 1796. The 4-in-1 Church complex is in Poonthamallee town (originally Poovirundhavalli), a western suburb of Chennai, bang on Poonamalee-Avadi High Road. During British rule, Poonthamalle played a crucial role as it is the western gateway to Chennai city; beyond Poonthamallee lay the Arcot Nawabs.

Therefore, the East India Company and then the colonial British rulers always had an eye on Poonthamalle. They extended their grip on this suburb by constructing Churches and other buildings like barracks, etc. The barrack was converted as Asia's first school for visually impaired in 1931, a century after its completion.

The earliest of these four Churches is a tiny, lovely, humble structure, probably erected for the soldiers of East India Company. As the congregation increased, the need for a bigger Church building was felt that necessitated the construction of a moderate Church. When we visited the complex, we noticed that a balwadi was being run in the earliest Church. The second one was now in use for Bible classes.

The third Church, St. Mary Magdalene Church, that came up in 1818 has celebrated its bi-centenary in 2018. The fourth one, also named CSI St. Mary Magdalene Church, a very spacious one, has come up recently to serve the faithful flock.

It was gratifying to note that the old, historical Church buildings were not demolished; in fact, they are being maintained fairly well, with the floor shining and reflecting the natural sun light that peeps through the vintage windows.

While the earliest structure is a very humble building, the second building has a three-tiered façade and a double-deck tiled roof with arched pillars and windowed verandahs on either side. Two palm trees rise to the height of the front tower, adding natural beauty to the old edifice. The four projected side entrances add charm to the whole structure.

An additional attraction is the local floor tile called 'Aathangudi tile' that has been laid from the doorway to the altar. Ceiling fans and bulbs dangle from the high-rise ceiling. The façade of the bi-centenary Church building has an open verandah with tall pillars rising to ceiling. The arched foldable window doors and the wooden doors have innovative wooden venetian blinds!

Here also the altar is simple with just a cross. The verandahs are covered with 'Madras ceiling'. Cluster hanging lamps shed muted light in the interior. The antique holy water font was the star of attraction among other antique furniture, etc.

The modern new structure, built close to the 2nd Church, has a high rising tower. The first two Churches could be of CSI Wesley but I am not very sure with these Christian nomenclatures.

The cemetery attached to the Church threw up more historical surprises. The first grave is of the year 1795, i.e., 225 years old ! It was for Capt. Ambrose Rosell, 37, of His Majesty's 52nd Reg., who passed away on 3rd July 1795; it was raised by his Brother Officers. He was the elder brother of Irish Radical Thomas Russel who was executed in Ireland.

Another one belonged to Major Donald Mc Donald of East India Company's 2nd Batt. of 42 Regiment Native Infantry. He died on 19th June 1799 during the siege of Seringapatam (Srirangapatnam near Mysore in Karnataka) at the battle with Tipu Sultan.

A very interesting and pitiable grave is that of Ensign (a position in navy) John Ingleby of HM 53 Regt., who died on 4th June 1818, aged just 25, almost immediately on arrival in Madras from St. Helena, guarding Napoleon Bonaparte who was defeated in the Waterloo battle. The grave was erected by his brother officers who accompanied him from St. Helena. Unlike the Churches, the cemetery is in a very poor condition.

It is pertinent to point out here that the very first Anglican Church to be raised on the east of the Suez Canal was in 1680 in the precincts of the Madras Fort (Fort St. George), dedicated to St. Mary the Blessed virgin, under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of London; thus came established the presence of the non-Roman Catholic Church in Madras/India.

I came to know of this interesting historical/religious fact also during a Madras Walk in the Fort area. With the Covid pandemic, no Madras Walk was probably organised during the last two years. I eagerly look forward to a Madras Walk during 2022 that could spring more new surprises.

But Covid could throw a surprise with the rise of 4th wave.


* S Balakrishnan wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer can be reached at krishnanbala2004(AT)yahoo(DOT)co(DOT)in
This article was webcasted on April 26 2022.



* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • ILP Check point at Jiri : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 27 June : Govt of Manipur
  • The untold story, lest it be forgotten
  • Assistance to victims of Assam Flood
  • A glimpse of 'Yangna Paikhredako Punshi'
  • Market innovations in developing country
  • COVID-19 : Impact in Manipur :: News Timeline
  • Anti-drug day expose state pathetic situation
  • The wedge amongst the Nagas
  • Coming of Manipur University in 1980
  • COVID-19 Status 26 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Laitonjam Lanchenba: Best Swimmer
  • Our capital Imphal - the city of sanity
  • Workshop : ND & PS Act, 1985
  • Mara Prabhu - Lord of the trees
  • Essence of international anti-drug day
  • July 1 : Taking the fight to plastic
  • Miss Shirui Lily 2022 #3 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 25 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Flesh Trade : Connection between Goa & NE
  • Importance of Soil Testing & Management
  • ST status Vs Classical language for Meetei
  • Life, faith and belief
  • MANISFA General Secretary appointed
  • Flood Watch : 23rd June #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 24 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Community led in ensuring HIV treatment
  • Approach to ideology & development
  • Solar Energy solution for healthcare facility
  • Yoga for health, beauty and immunity
  • Innovation Prize Launched for Designers
  • Knotty higher education sector
  • Classical language status and ST demand
  • Flood Watch : 23rd June #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 23 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Birds and Bees Talk launched 3rd phase
  • Luck matters, Rio's first entry into cabinet...
  • Need to deal with dumping of waste materials
  • Training on mushroom at Nagamapal
  • 1961 as base year: Take it or leave it
  • 10 years too late : JCILPS
  • Phamnaiba Jagoi @ Thangjing : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 22 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Women's cleanliness enjoys equal rights...
  • Life in some hill villages
  • The MCI Restoration II
  • 'BRO Cafes' on 75 border roads
  • Protest over boundary row headache for Govt
  • Issues on the indigenous question
  • Drug Menace In Manipur : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 21 June : Govt of Manipur
  • ST tag for Meiteis - A perspective!
  • Manipur State Welfare : Politics 1-0 Citizens
  • International Yoga Day at Assam Rifles
  • International Yoga Day at IBSD Imphal
  • International Yoga Day at NSU Imphal
  • Manipur Lokyukta: Fighting against corruption
  • Vision to distribute local rice under NFSA...
  • Taking the fight to the drug menace
  • Landslides - Imphal-Jiri [Jun 17] : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 20 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Thangjing in folklore of Koireng tribe
  • Health Workshop on Diabetes at Pune
  • Everyone is a thief :: Poem
  • E- barton for CM & Governor
  • Intensive cultivation of vegetables
  • High time to encourage e-vehicle operators
  • Scripting success story with Rs 500
  • Leima Jagoi by Transgender #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 19 June : Govt of Manipur
  • June 19 2022 : Father's Day message
  • Nine Hills One Valley : Ottawa Film Fest
  • Shirui Lily Festival or mud festival ?
  • Yoga for Women organised
  • Flight link to Mandalay dream come true
  • Action of Govt needs to be backed
  • 21st Great June Uprising #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 18 June : Govt of Manipur
  • The Great June 18 Uprising :: News Timeline
  • Revive environmentalism in Meetei ethos
  • COVID-19 Status 17 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Elephant army of Lord Guruvayurappan
  • Who will be next at Rashtrapati Bhawan
  • Hiyang Tannaba @ Loktak #1 : Gallery
  • Freedom movement against British #2
  • Inequity and health security
  • Donating blood is an act of solidarity
  • Unregulated deposit schemes & BUDS Act
  • Extension of entry age : Agnipath
  • Citizens feeding on adulterated food items
  • Of food safety and street vendors
  • Pooja Elangbam, IAS, 81st ranker in AICS
  • COVID-19 Status 16 June : Govt of Manipur
  • NE Model @Delhi Kids Fest : Gallery
  • Manipur Rajkunja
  • Effective Legal Aid to Women Prisoner
  • How to avoid cracked heel during hot summer
  • Aid to artisan must to promote local product
  • Education for whom ?
  • Kabui Dance @Nongshaba Haraoba : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 15 June : Govt of Manipur
  • 'Let's Talk About It' : music album
  • Significance of World Environment Day
  • The MCI Restoration
  • North East CSR Award 2022
  • Prolonged sitting or standing spoils your leg
  • State fast-tracking towards drug making hub
  • 'Progression' from smuggling to manufacturing
  • Bonny Elangbam : Longest distance covered
  • COVID-19 Status 14 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Interaction with Makakmayum Hosni Mubarak
  • India to become $5 trillion economy
  • Exploring traditional medicines of NE
  • Freefall of the kids after COVID-19
  • Honour the tax payers, expose defaulters
  • NE needs more than 'unprecedented'
  • Miss Shirui Lily 2022 #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 13 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Water management in paddy cultivation
  • PM Modi hails Nagaland Gaon Burahs
  • Blight of Nature :: Poem
  • Moreh as Las Vegas
  • NHIDCL's reputation at stake
  • Drugs, poppy & 'alternatives'
  • Thaopai Shithaine of Poumai #2 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 12 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Jadonang Park, Tamenglong :: Gallery
  • Freedom movement against British #1
  • Multi-Tasking Staff at Leima Traders
  • Toning down rhetoric that hurts religion
  • Shirui Lily fest brings to fore plastic menace
  • Conservation of pony & grazing fields
  • Kakwa Lairembi Haraoba #2 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 11 June : Govt of Manipur
  • The unheeded cry of children in labour
  • Why present distribution of urea fails?
  • World Day Against Child Labour 2022
  • Sunrise on the Civil Aviation Horizon
  • Arambam Samarendra Ningshingba :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 10 June : Govt of Manipur
  • NE Ex-Super Model at Delhi Kids Fest
  • What Diphu has, Dimapur & Kohima don't
  • Towards Manipur Budget 2022-23 ...
  • NE Social & Behaviour Change inaugurated
  • Fighting corruption remains an uphill task
  • Environment needs more than tree plantation
  • SN Chand: The father of Manipuri cinema #3
  • COVID-19 Status 09 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Degree Certificate for Survival #2
  • Value chain management of Umorok
  • Pulses for Nutrition Security in Manipur
  • Keeping your skin oil free during summer
  • Demand for impartial probe into IMC scam
  • Politics of isolating the NSCN (IM)
  • Raas @Manipur Rajbari, W Bengal :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 08 June : Govt of Manipur
  • A rare book on Birds of Manipur
  • Condemns bomb blast in Manipur
  • Market Innovations made America great #2
  • Jal Jeevan Mission : PHED Manipur
  • Disturbing data on lifestyle diseases in state
  • Tough talk against drug menace
  • Trekking to Shirui Peak, Ukhrul #2 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 07 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Take a leaf from sunderban if you're serious
  • Testimony of brother Ninghor Mahongnao
  • Local leaders unitedly push for One Health
  • Letters from the Republic of Dust #2
  • Soil testing for better crop production
  • Despicable threat to school
  • Outrage at Little Flower School
  • Ibudhou Thangjing Lam Thokpa #3 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 06 June : Govt of Manipur
  • India-Taiwan Global Bamboo Tech Forum
  • Condemns bomb attack at LFS
  • RSS chief sounds logical
  • Career options in Environmental Science
  • We reap what we sow
  • NRC in focus as keyboard warriors spar...
  • Coming together of COCOMI, UNC
  • HSE Result 2022 : Statistiscal Abstract
  • HSE Result 2022 : Subject Pass Percentage
  • HSE Result 2022 : District-Wise Pass %
  • HSE Result 2022 :Science Topper
  • HSE Result 2022 : Arts Topper
  • HSE Result 2022 : Commerce Topper
  • HSE Result 2022 : Science Stream Result
  • HSE Result 2022 : Arts Stream Result
  • HSE Result 2022 : Commerce Stream Result
  • COVID-19 Status 05 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Nagaland: Is it fair to blame Indrajit Gupta ?
  • 4th Plenary Session of WMC at Sugnu
  • World Environment Day at Tamenglong
  • World Environment Day at Lilong
  • World Environment Day at Haraorou
  • Musing :: Poem
  • Yet another World Environment Day observed
  • Mounting pressure for solution
  • Padmashree Award Moirangthem Muktamani
  • COVID-19 Status 04 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Congested road at Shirui Village :: Gallery
  • Degree Certificate for Survival #1
  • Admission for National Sports University
  • World Environment Day at Imphal
  • Include Meeteis in the ST list
  • Inhumane act of De-addiction centres
  • UK band Monuments @ShiRock #2 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 03 June : Govt of Manipur
  • 'Provocation' charges arrests on social media
  • Gerinda Loitongbam: Natl Women Award
  • Timeless Memories :: Poem
  • Ket Meth releases music video Trauma'
  • 8 years of Modi Govt: More hits than misses
  • Bad example commanders
  • Posers parents may raise within
  • Miss Shirui Lily 2022 #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 02 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Letters from the Republic of Dust #1
  • Workshop on Food Processing at Lilong
  • 1st June is the Global Day of Parents
  • 'Developing human resource in Manipur'
  • Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen)
  • 'Yoga for personality development' orgd
  • Row over boundary fencing project
  • Brain storming session of the Congress
  • Lunghar (Imp-Kohima / Jessami) #3 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 01 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Delphi Oinam : Topper at Nagaland HSLC
  • Teaching at Churachandpur Govt College
  • Jadonang Park at Tamenglong renovated
  • Quality seed production of rice (HYV)
  • Audiobook for NEET aspirants launched
  • Naga issue: From bush war to shadow boxing
  • Tenants in Nagaland tag on the NSCN (IM)
  • Wakhom Leikai Lairembi Haraoba #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 31 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Pageant winners showcase Robert's collection
  • MIFF to pay homage to Irom Maipak
  • Awareness on Legal rights of women prisoner
  • Election petitions galore in Manipur
  • Training program on mushroom at Nagamapal
  • Must expedite process for border projects
  • Wanted : A far sighted leader
  • Naga Indigenous Wrestling :: Gallery
  • June Calendar for Year 2022 : Tools
  • UK band Monuments @ShiRock #1 :: Gallery
  • Ibudhou Thangjing Lam Thokpa #2 :: Gallery
  • SN Chand: The father of Manipuri cinema #2
  • Licypriya speech at East Timor :: Gallery
  • On 200th Anniversary of MK Binodini Devi
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2022 #2: Gallery
  • Harvesting Fest of Tarao #4 :: Gallery
  • Id-ul-Fitr @Hatta Golapati :: Gallery
  • Rules of English Pronunciation : Download
  • Sub-Syllables in English : Book Download