St Marys Church, Poona
Published: F.B. Stewart & Son, Poona. c.1910
St. Mary’s Church (CNI) located in the Cantonment-Camp area of Pune city is the oldest standing church structure in the mid-western region of India and was called ‘The Mother Church of the Deccan’ by the former Metropolitan of the then Anglican Communion in this part of the world, The Most Reverend Bishop Reginald Heber.
Built in the early 1820s and consecrated on the 3rd of July, 1825, this church building has since then been a place of worship for people from different walks of life even as it has served as a historical landmark. Initially it was built for the purpose of worship for British military officers who were from the Protestant denomination of the Church of England, i.e. the Anglican Church. Gradually, apart from military officers, civilians too who were Christians and subscribed to the faith and practice of the Anglican Church in India, began to worship here.
St Mary’s Church, Camp, Pune (official website)
The British originally came to India to trade. Gradually they worked themselves into power, and India became one of the countries of the British Empire. In Pune [Poonah, Poona] and its suburb Khadki [Kirkee] they had a large military set-up. It was therefore only natural that the British felt the need to have a church for their military personnel. Thus garrison churches came into existence. This is the oldest established Church in Poona or its neighbourhood. The Church was built by Lieut. Nash of the East India Company’s Engineers. The tower at the west end of the church is surmounted by a mixture of lath and plaster.
On the north and south of the tower are respectively vestry and lamp room on the ground floor, with a staircase on the south leading up to the gallery. The interior of the church is 97 feet long from the west door of the church step, and transept 88 feet long from north to south. The width of the naive is 15 feet and transept 35 feet. The top of the spire is 103 feet from the ground. The eight round pillars, four on each side of the nave, are remarkable for the excellency of the chuna plastering with which they are covered having a surface almost like marble.
The church accommodates over 1000 worshippers. The bell in the tower at present replaced the original one and was brought from Kaira Church. The Church foundation were laid by Bishop Reginald Heber in 1825. The Bishop has left an excellent account of his journey up to Poona from Bombay. He describes the Church as spacious, convenient building but in bad architectural taste.
St Mary’s Church, Camp, Pune