‘The Church in Madras’
A 3-volume red hardback set (I.88.1) housed in Gladstone’s Library, Hawarden, Wales.
Written by Rev Frank Penny from 1904. Final volume published in 1912.
Frontispiece: Presented by the Secretary of State for India (1905, Vol 1-2), Presented by the Secretary of State for India in Council (1912, Vol 3).
Vol 1 1640 – 1805 Inc. St Mary’s, Madras, page 81
Vol 2 1805 – 1835 Inc. St Stephen’s, Ooty, page 320
Vol 3 1835 – 1861 Inc. All Saint’s, Coonoor, page 169
It was thrilling to see on page 196, the word ‘should’ written in pencil in the margin by William Gladstone replacing ‘shall’, proving that Gladstone himself read these volumes!
The East India Company (EIC)
The EIC was neutral about Christianity and its work, but their Charter of 1698 (renewed in 1792 by William Wilberforce) required them to employ Chaplains. These, in turn, had to be approved by the Bishop of London and had to be from the Protestant Communion.
However, the EIC officially discouraged and sometimes prevented the work of missionaries and Christian mission. The Royal Danish Mission and the SPCK (mostly Germans) worked in the south of India for the ‘Great principle of the duty of promoting Christian Knowledge’. There was therefore a marked difference between the work of the EIC Chaplains and that of the SPCK missionaries.
Fifteen Churches were built within the bounds of the Madras Presidency by the Company and six or eight more were built privately.
By 1835-61, 41 Churches had been built in India.
See also – Bishop Stephen Neill, ‘The History of Christianity in India’.
Just yards from the beach, south of Chennai, this Church is traditionally built near to or over the site where ‘Doubting’ Thomas, the Apostle to India, was reputedly martyred in AD72, having come to India in AD52.
This large white Roman Catholic Cathedral dates from 1896, and was given the status of Basilica in 1956.
It is one of only three churches worldwide said to contain the tomb of one of the twelve disciples of Jesus.
Marco Polo recorded a chapel on the seashore during his travels in Asia in 1293. The original small church was built by the Portuguese in 1523. The Prelates on this brass plaque in the Basilica date back to 1600.
Coonoor was one of three Hill stations established by the British Raj in the Nilgiri Hills in Southern India. Elevation 1720m.
The Church was dedicated in 1851 and opened in 1854. A distinctive cream-coloured English-style Church in India.
‘A charming and restful spot of great natural beauty’ (The Church in Madras).
My journal entry (October 2014):
‘After lunch, we visited All Saints Church, next door to the Gateway Heritage Hotel. This was quite a revelation – a beautiful interior, well looked after and clearly still well used. It has a dark wood, vaulted roof space, lots of stained glass and is well painted both inside and out. Someone opened up for us. So glad that he did. The large and reasonably well tended graveyard contained the usual poignant memorials to those who died in India – from the military, the church and the planter community. All far from home’
Ooty or Ootacamund in the Nilgiri Hills was one of three Hill stations in the area favoured by the British Raj. Elevation 2240m.
Ootacamund became the summer headquarters of the Madras Presidency, nicknamed ‘Snooty Ooty’.
The Church was dedicated in 1829, opened at Eastertide 1831 and is the oldest church in the Nilgiris.
It has a beautiful dark wooden ceiling with huge beams hauled by elephant, following the capture of the city palace of the conquered and feared enemy of the British, Tipu Sultan, in Seringapatam over 100km away.
My journal entry (October 2014):
‘We arrived at St Stephen’s Church, a cream-coloured, somewhat squat building dating from 1831. Climbing the steps, we entered the Church after first removing our shoes. It had a gorgeous dark wood interior with white paint and the usual array of brass memorial plaques. Outside, I wandered through yet another unkempt Anglican, colonial graveyard full of decaying tombs and headstones, now in the hands of CSI but utterly uncared for and overgrown. How many relatives know anything about any of these graves? There must be thousands of such spots all across India, gradually fading away into the past’.
Like so many of us, I’m guilty of living way too much in the future – planning, thinking, dreaming, hurrying – and today somehow can seem far less significant. This attitude can be like; let’s just get through today as, in our heads, it’s already past, and move urgently onto the next thing!
Living like this means I have almost certainly missed some of the key events in the life of our family, something I now regret. Mother Teresa is quoted as saying, ‘Yesterday has gone, tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today’.
This is what the Bible has to say in James 4:
‘Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’.
It’s ‘WHO’ you are today that counts. It’s ‘WHAT’ you do today that matters.
Do enjoy TODAY.