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Churches of Bengal: Christ Church of Burdwan

The oldest and prettiest church of Burdwan city is also perhaps its most neglected

Somen Sengupta | Published 21.12.21, 08:38 PM
The Christ Church of Burdwan is also known as Church Mission Society Church

The Christ Church of Burdwan is also known as Church Mission Society Church

Joydeep/Wikimedia Commons

In the first half of the 19th century, the Burdwan royal family was facing an inheritance crisis. But even in those difficult times, Maharaja Tej Chand donated land for establishing schools and temples. In 1816, the royal family donated a large piece of land to one Charles Stuart to start a social service organisation called Church Mission Society. 

Stuart, also known as ‘Hindoo Stuart’, established the society that very same year and dedicated it’s time and resources to further English education. Soon, it involved itself in many social services. During that time, the Christian population of Burdwan was growing and a church was needed to cater their needs.

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In 1831, the royal family again donated land on the north of today’s Curzon Gate, near GT Road, to a Christian missionary named Revd J Weitbrecht, who on the same year established a small yet beautiful Protestant church — popularly known now as Christ Church of Burdwan. As it was supported by the Church Mission Society, this Anglican church is also known as Church Mission Society Church.

The church is located just off GT Road in Pakmara Lane, next to Burdwan’s famous Curzon Gate

The church is located just off GT Road in Pakmara Lane, next to Burdwan’s famous Curzon Gate

Aniket Mukherjee

It is the oldest church of Burdwan town and perhaps its most neglected, despite its rich history. Its design and architecture also make it the most attractive church of the region.

Built in typical European style, it has a semi-circular dome on one side and a portico on the other. There is a sharp pediment crowned with a cross that covers the front of the semi-circular part of the church, while its rear is open with four arched windows made of glass and wood. At the front, there is a bell tower with a huge iron bell that hangs above the main entrance.

Built in typical European style, it has a semi-circular dome on one side and a portico on the other

Built in typical European style, it has a semi-circular dome on one side and a portico on the other

Somen Sengupta

The prayer hall is small. As it is Protestant church, no idol is worshipped inside. 

The church is painted red. Its roof is thatched and covered with baked red tiles. The tower that stands at the entrance of the church houses a bell, which is now out of order.

The rainwater pipes are shaped like lion’s heads

The rainwater pipes are shaped like lion’s heads

Aniket Mukherjee

The rainwater pipes are made of iron and their mouths are shaped like lion’s heads.

The prayer hall is full of marble plaques commemorating the lives and untimely deaths of some Europeans and Americans.

Some of the dedicatory marble plaques inside the church

Some of the dedicatory marble plaques inside the church

Aniket Mukherjee

Sunday services are still held and a fair number of local people attend. The midnight mass on New Year’s Eve and special services from December 25 to 27 are distinct fixtures on the church’s calendar.

In the festive month of December, a series of musical events, services and fairs are held. One such event is the joint musical choir, which is participated by many Catholic churches of the districts. It generally takes place around December 15 every year. During Christmas week, the church is illuminated with colourful lights and a small fair is organised on the land adjacent to the church. 

A service inside the church

A service inside the church

Aniket Mukherjee

It is important to note that though Curzon Gate is the most well-known landmark of Burdwan city, Christ Church is of a much older colonial heritage.

The church is located just off GT Road in Pakmara Lane, next to Curzon Gate. As the church land is encroached upon by hawkers and shopkeepers, one may miss it at first glance, but its bright red bricks and baked soil tiles are ultimately hard to overlook.    

 

Somen Sengupta is passionate about heritage and travelling and has been writing about it for 26 years. When he is not executing duties as a senior executive in an MNC, he keeps an eye out for intriguing historical trivia and unearths forgotten stories. This also makes him an avid quizzer.

Last updated on 22.12.21, 04:34 PM
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