Located on 2/2, Council House Street, at the North Eastern side of the Writers’ Building, St.Andrew’s Church was basically built to serve the Scottish Presbyterian community of Calcutta. It stands on the plot, which was once occupied by the Old Court House. This was the same Court, where Maharaja Nandakumar was tried and sentenced to death in 1775. With time, the Court building became dilapidated and was demolished in 1792.
The Anglo-Indian Presbytery was created by the Charter of 1813 along with the Anglo India Episcopate and The Rev. Dr. James Bryce arrived in Calcutta on 28th November 1814, as the Chaplain at the Bengal Ecclesiastical Establishment. It seems that right from the beginning, there was a positional rivalry between Rev. Bryce, and Bishop Fanshawe Middleton, the first Bishop of the Indian Episcopate, who headed the Anglican St. John’s Church located near the Government House.
St Andrew’s Church, also known as the Kirk, is the only Scottish church in Kolkata. The foundation stone of the Church was laid on the 30th day of November, 1815 by Marquis of Hastings, which was also attended by The Countess of Moira and the Countess of Loudon. Since the foundation stone was laid by the Governor General himself, the Church was also known as Lat Sahib ka Girja. Designed by Messrs Burns, Currie and Co, the construction of the Church was completed in 1818, and it was dedicated to St. Andrew. Like the St. John’s Church, St. Andrew’s church was also designed in the lines of St.Martin’s in the fields, London.
Today, standing beside the Writers’ Building and looking straight towards the long stretch of Old Court House Street, St. Andrew’s Church, with its imposing Grecian façade and the tall majestic columns, is mostly engulfed by heavy traffic. The building consists of a massive square structure based on a high plinth with a massive triangular pediment, supported on the tall Doric pillars forming a royal portico in the front and a high spire on the top of the building. In 1835, the clock fitted to the tower.
It is said that, the first Bishop of Calcutta objected to the idea of the erection of the spire, as he was under the impression that only the Church of England had the authority to allow the construction of such a church. But Reverend Bryce, the priest of the church, did not pay any heed to it and declared that he would definitely erect the spire of the Church, which will be higher than the steeple of the St John’s Church and he would also place on the top of it a cock to crow over the bishop. Finally, Bryce won the battle and he was able to get the necessary permission for a higher steeple.
The interior of the Church is very simple. There are the numerous stone tablets that adorn the walls and commemorate the Scotsmen who passed away in India, miles away from their home and were buried in the Scottish cemetery which falls under the supervision of the church.
Location of St. Andrew’s Church