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St. John's Church information

St. John's Church

St. John's Church, originally a cathedral, was among the first public buildings erected by the East India Company after Kolkata (Calcutta) became the effective capital of British India. It is located at the North-Western corner of Raj Bhavan, and served as the Anglican Cathedral of Calcutta till 1847, when the see was transferred to St. Paul's Cathedral. Construction of the building, modelled on St Martin-in-the-Fields of London, started in 1784, with Rs 30,000 raised through a public lottery, and was completed in 1787. It is the third oldest church in the city, next to the Armenian and the Old Mission Church. The land for the St. John's Church was donated by the Maharaja Nabo Kishen Bahadur, the founder of the Shovabazar Raj Family.The foundation stone was laid by Warren Hastings, the Governor General of India on 6 April 1784. Two marble plaques at the entrance mark the two historic events. Built by architect James Agg, the St John's church is built with a combination of brick and stone and was commonly known as the "Pathure Girja" (Stone Church). Stone was a rare material in the late 18th century Kolkata. The stones came from the medieval ruins of Gour, and were shipped down the Hooghly River. The minutes book in the church office tell in detail the story of how the ruins of Gaur were robbed to build St John's church. The church is a large square structure in the Neoclassical architectural style. A stone spire 174 ft tall is its most distinctive feature. The spire holds a giant clock, which is wound every day. One of the driving forces behind the construction of the cathedral was Chaplain William Johnson, the husband of Begum Johnson."Wikisource link to Chapter 7". Calcutta: Past and Present. Wikisource. Tall columns frame the church building on all sides and the entrance is through a stately portico. The floor is a rare hue of blue-grey marble, brought from Gaur. Large windows allow the sunlight to filter through the coloured glass. The main altar is of a simple design. Behind the altar is a semi-circular dome and the floor is of dark blue, almost black, stone. To the left of the altar hangs a painting of The Last Supper by the British artist of German origin, Johann Zoffany. On the right is a beautiful stained glass window. The walls of the church contain memorial tablets, statues and plaques, mostly of British army officers and civil servants. James Achilles Kirkpatrick, popularly known as the White Mughal was the central character of William Dalrymple best selling work of history White Mughals died in Calcutta on 15 October 1805 at the age of 41. He was buried at the North Park Street Cemetery, but neither his grave nor the cemetery exists today. James Achilles Kirkpatrick's father James Kirkpatrick, popularly known as the Handsome Colonel, along with his brothers erected a memorial in memory of James Achilles Kirkpatrick on the southern wall of the St. John's Church. The overblown and oddly inappropriate epitaph, erected still stands to this day.

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