St. John's Church, Bangalore, India

Heritage & History

Introduction

St. John's Church, Bangalore though built in the year 1858, has a history dating back to 1853 for in it's neighbourhood (Haines Road) there was a Chapel built in the year 1853, and named after the locality "Mootoo Cherry". Very soon it was filled to capacity and later the congregation was shifted to a bigger Church - the St. John's Church.

Bangalore Cantonment in 1853

In the 1850's Bangalore Cantonment was a small rectangular piece of land under the Madras Presidency. In the Cantonment, St. Mark's Church, Holy Trinity Church, the European Barracks and the Parade Ground were all situated on a ridge which ran from East to West. To the North of this ridge, and running parallel to it was a smaller ridge. In between the two ridges the land was low lying. On the slopes of both these ridges and facing the depressed land was built many small bungalows and houses for pensioners and other connected with the Cantonment. The settlement on the side of the Northern ridge was known as "Mootoocherry" and that around the Southern ridge was known as "St. Mark's district. Mootoo Cherry was occupied by the poor Tamil settlers from North and South Arcot Districts.

Why Mootoocherry Chapel was built

In his book " The Churches in Madras Diocese" Rev. Frank Penny (1922) who had take references from St., Mark's Records just before it was destroyed by fire on February 2nd 1923, has written that St. Mark's Church, Bangalore was established during the period 1808 to 1912. Till the year 1854, Bangalore had two Chaplains. They had spiritual charge of the whole Cantonment including the Brigade Troops, the pensioners and their families and various officials of the Mysore Government. There were also six out-stations ( Srirangapatnam, Nandidurg, Roya Cottah, Chithradurga, Hunsoor and French Rocks), which had to be visited periodically. While one of the Chaplains was in Bangalore, the other went to visit the out-stations. As per records, Rev. W.W. Lutyens was the Chaplain of (St. Mark's Church) Bangalore since 1840. He built the "Holy Trinity Church" in 1850. Rev. Robert Posnett who joined him later in 1853 also conceived the dea of a separate Parish on the Mootoocherry Ridge, with Church, School, Reading Room and Library complete. The Rev. R. Posnett's real intention was to help the Eurasian (Indo British) descendants of British soldiers, who were not admitted in St. Mark's Church, and whose children were not welcome at the Cantonment Schools.

Mootoocherry Chapel

The Rev. R. Posnett appealed to the then General Officer Commanding for funds to build a Chapel and School. The G.O.C. was favourabl;e and sent the appeal top the Quarter General, but it being a new idea to the Government (the construction of a Chapel for civilians) help was refused. The G.O.C. however was sympathetic and gave a site midway between the lines of the two Infantry Corps. Rev. P. Posnett raised the necessary money from the officers in the Station and a room was built on the Mootoocherry Ridge. It was 47 feet long and 16 feet wide; and was divided by a screen into two compartments, one for Infants and the other for Girls above 8 years of age. The room served as a Library and Reading Room for the Eurasian Bandsmen in the mornings and for Divine Services on Sundays. The monthly expenses were met by the officers of the garrison through the Chaplain of St. Mark's Church.

The exact site of this Chapel-cum-school room is not known. It is not known when it was constructed and dedicated, nor does one know how much it cost to build. Rev. W. Holder in 1950 writes in St. John's Centenary Journal " The exact site of this Chapel-School room is obscure, though a building, reputed to be such stands on Haines Road.." However, records my be found in "Madras Government Archives", "Madras Diocese Office", "Bangalore Garrisons Office", or in the "Indian Church Trust, Calcutta".

Here it would be interesting to produce some extracts fro Rev. R. Posnett's letters to the Bishop of Madras dated 23rd April 1853. " It should be mentioned that the Divine Services is celebrated at Mootoocherry twice during each week, on Sunday evenings and Wednesday evenings in the School room... but this room is now filled to excess, the attendance for the last few months ranging from 100 to 115". "It is also proposed to sell the present school room in which there are 52 girls and 16 boys under instruction as it is an inconvenient and otherwise objectionable position". The above extracts show that Rev. R. Posnett wanted to sell the Chapel-School, but exactly when it was sold is not known.

New Mootoocherry Church Complex

Rev. R. Posnett then ventured to construct a separate building for "Church", "Schools" and "Library". In April 1853, he applied to Major General Sewell for a site and the present site was granted in October 1853, to build a new Mootoocherry Church of "High Anglican Order". The site was a piece of unused land near the Roman Catholic Chapel measuring 565 feet on the Northern side, 600 feet on the Southern side, 310 feet on the Eastern side and 500 feet towards the West. In October 1853, Rev. Posnett put an enclosure around it to build the new Mootoocherry Church with School and Library. Rev. Posnett made a ground plan and sent the same to the Bishop of Madras along with a letter. The original estimated to build the School building and Library for Rs. 2000/-. He later decided to go for Gothic architecture, the designs were prepared by the engineer who designed the Bangalore High Court (Attara Kacheri). Three Schools one each for boys, girls and infants were started on the same premises on 28th May, 1854, and dedicated by Rev. R. Posnett. The school and the reading room being now open, Rev. R. Posnett made plans for the new Church at Mootoocherry in "Gothic" architecture. In September 1854, Rev.W.W. Lutyens and Rev. R Posnett left and handed over the charge to Rev. D.S. Clarke and Rev. A.J. Rodgers. Rev. R. Posnett had been at Bangalore for only two years, but he had been able to accomplish much. Thus, the Rev. Robert Posnett, God's chosen and anointed man founded "God's Church-God's People" of St. Johns' Church to the Glory of God.

The First School Management Committee

St. Mark's Chaplain & St. Mark's Lay Trustees as Ex-Officio; Major Cherry & Captain Fresh Field from the 1st Light Cavalry; Captain Miller, Supt. of Police. The responsibilities of this Committee was to keep the buildings is a proper state of repair, selection of teachers, books and the procurement of stationery etc., Collection of monthly subscriptions from the congregation for current expenses of the Schools, and Books for the Reading Room. The residence of the School Master, was in the centre of the buildings. Rev. Posnett felt that to maintain the services of a properly trained Master and Mistress a good wage needed to be paid. He wrote letters to Henry M. Batt, Chief Secretary of the Government of Madras and Major General Sir Mark Cubbon of the Mysore Government, for a grant towards maintenance of the schools opened for the children of "Queens" and "Companys" European Pensioners residing in the Cantonment of Bangalore in the place called Mootoocherry. The Government of Madras and Mysore gave a grant towards this .

St. John's Church, St. John's School & St. John's Hill

On April 12, 1858, when the new Mootoocherry Church was built and dedicated to the Glory of God, in honour and memory of St. John the Evangelist, by Rev. T.Dealty, Bishop of Madras, the name Mootoocherry was changed to "St. John's Library"; South side road wads named as St. John's Church Road. From 1858, St. John's School was managed directly by the St. John's Church Committee also called the "Vestry Committee". After a few decades, the Library Building was pulled down, but the School remain till date. It is believed that the School building was used for Worship Services when St. John's Church was under construction. Immediately after the establishment of the St. John's Church and St., John's School, the St. John's Hill became a populous district of Bangalore with a large number of European and Eurasians moving into the area, and building cottages all around. The Spire of the St. John's Church also called "Sigappu Koil" stood magnificently conjured up the semblance of an English village.


A Monument in front of St. John's Church remembering those who died in the Great War (First World War).

An Appeal

In Aid of Asha Nivas - Home for the Aged at St. John's Church, Bangalore, India

The old are not getting younger and the young are getting older. Most of the older people are in the twilight years of their lives and some are infirm requiring daily care, assistance and companionship. With life expectancy increasing and the erosion of the family system where children no longer wish to take care of the old and infirm, society is being looked upon for succour and timely help. Older couples and those single bereaved ones look forward to a resting place in homes for senior citizens. One such home is ASHA NIVAS situated in the premises of the St. John's Church.

Asha Nivas was founded in August 1978. From a modest beginning of one block comprising of four compact double rooms for aged couples with an adjoining building of six single rooms, it became necessary in 1984 to construct an additional block consisting of one more double room and six single rooms. It was occupied almost as soon as it was built. At present there are 23 residents, some of whom are very old and infirm. Many very deserving applicants could not be accommodated owning to the acute shortage of accommodation. The demand is increasing and the need for expansion has become inevitable.

Since church land is available in the immediate vicinity of Asha Nivas, construction of aditional accommodation is feasible. Furthermore, a need has arisen for extensive repairs to be carried out in the older rooms which were built in 1978. Besides, there is a need to carry out maintenance repairs to the remaining rooms, to enable these old people to live in relative comfort with the day to day basic facilities. Rising costs, wages and salaries, food prices have all put a very heavy strain on the meagre finances available and the modest income.

Consequent to the pressing needs of Asha Nivas and particularly for the welfare, well being and basic necessities of the old senior citizens, a fund raising campaign is being initiated. As a start, a Programme of SACRED MUSIC is being scheduled on Sunday 25th May 1997 at 6PM at St. John's Church.

This appeal for your generous contribution and donations towards the Endowment Fund created for the purpose for the well being of ASHA NIVAS come at a time when these old people can no longer be neglected. There is no doubt that, well wishers will be forth coming and we request you to make the programme of SACRED MUSIC on 25th May 1997 a grand success by sending you donations/advertisements for the brochure.


Appeal

Renovation of the Chapel at St. John's Church Cemetery, Kalpally, Bangalore, India

The date when St. John's Cemetery was established at Kalpally is unknown. However, there are graves which date back to 1820. Originally, only European Christians were buried here. There are also a large number of graves of British Military personnel who died during the First and Second World Wars.

A War Memorial was erected in the Kalpally cemetery in 1884 by the Non Commissioned Officers of the 42nd Company of the Royal Engineers in memory of their comrades, who died both in peace and war. This monument presently occupies a place of Honour at the entrance to the Madras Engineers Group and Centre (Madras Sappers) Museum. It would be reasonable to assume that European Soldiers in Lord Cornwallis' Army have been interred in the "HALSUR" (now know as Ulsoor) area after the storming of Bangalore in 1791. Since Independence, the Cemetery is being used to cater to the needs of St. John's Church and other Christian Communities.

A Chapel was constructed in 1858 and was in constant use till it was reappropriated in the early Nineteen Sixties and unfortunately used to house the watchman, which has led to its deterioration and disuse.

In order to be able to re-use the Chapel for the purpose, it was originally established, it is necessary to carry out repairs and renovate the existing structure as well as construct a watchman's quarters in the premises for which a plan sanction and approval to construct by Bangalore City Corporation has been obtained. Futher more, it has become most desirable to restore the sunken graves, amintain the monuments and head stones of the existing graves, provide proper roads and pathways within the Cemetery and beautify the premises.

There is an acute paucity of funds for the Cemetery and in order to be able to meet the expenditure for the above Commitments, we appeal to the St. John's Congregation and other Well Wishers to generously contribute for this very worthy cause. Your donations may be made to the St. John's Cemetery Fund. Our target is Rupees Ten Lakhs.

"In this none too happy world of ours, we must give for the greater happinesss of others and that we must give freely".

We appeal to all our generous friends and well wishers to kindly place an advertisement in a forthcoming brochure and contribute liberally to this noble cause.

The Tariff and more details can be had from:

The Convener, Sacred Musical Programme, St. Johns' Church, 132 St. John's Road, Bangalore 560 005, India

The Convenor, Asha Nivas - Ms. T. Dawson

The Convenor, Cemetery - Ernest Shaw

This Page is still under construction, history of St. John's to be concluded shortly.

Photos of St. John's Church will shortly be added on Ron's Collection of Photos of Churches.


e-mail: Ronnie 1 (or) Ronnie 2

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Thought for the Day:" Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, For you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man's sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, Fon in the manner their fathers did to the prophets. But woe to you who are rich, For you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full, For you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, For you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did they fathers to the false prophets." Holy Bible: Luke 6:20-26



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