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St. Andrew's Church

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St.Andrew's Church (Kirk)

St.Andrew's Church, more popularly referred to as 'Kirk' is situated across the Gandhi Irwin Road, Egmore, Chennai. The church has a 200-year old history behind it. It is one of the oldest 'living churches' in the world. The church was specially built for the Scottish community serving in the East India Company at that time. The fašade resembles St Martin-in-the-Fields in London.

Raised on a site of 1780 'Free masonry lodge', the church was consecrated in the year 1821 AD. Major Thomas Fort De Havilland and Colonel James were the guiding forces behind the construction of this famous monument. The church is built on a marshy land prone to sinking and flooding. This land was purchased because of the low cost and its proximity to Fort St.George.

The East India Company bore the expenses towards the entire construction of this church. Special engineering efforts were taken to ensure a strong foundation. A foundation of 14 ft with circular masonry brick wells of 9- feet depth with a bed of pottery was dug to ensure that the building did not sink or fall apart because of the marshy land. This British church with towering steeples has indeed stood the test of time.

The church stands till today as one of the finest of Gregorian architecture. The church was modeled on St.Martin's Lane, London. The church attracts visitors from all over the world. Architects and students marvel at its unrivaled beauty and grandeur.

The church has a 51.5 diameter round sanctuary with 16 'Corinthian columns' and it is one of the few monuments in the world to be supported by a columns of such height. 'Syrian masonry technique' has been used to add glory and elegance to the building. Splendid mahogany wood work, black and white chequered marble floor enhance the stunning beauty of the church.

The interiors of the church are colored with lapis lazuli to give an impression of an 'azure sky in the canopy of heaven'. The breathtakingly rich glass stained window panels of St.Peter and St.Andrew were specially brought from Scotland. There was a controversy surrounding the original 4 m diameter bell manufactured at a Gunpowder foundry in Bengal and erected by Major Havilland.

The bell tolled for the first time on the funeral of Dr.Allan, the Kirk's First Minister and Revered Pastor. This was considered as a bad omen and soon the original bell was dismantled and a new one has been erected in its place.

The church boasts of one of the oldest pipe organs in the city of Chennai. Maestros like Handel Manuel and Victor Paranjothi have led the gifted choir of this church renowned for its beauty and song. Today the church houses two landmark institutions namely:

  • A cosmopolitan congregation that is very active in worship

  • A school of Protestant educational institution for children of all faiths.

St Andrew's Church