Belief Instilled Amidst the Guns

Siddhant Agarwal

All Saints Garrison Church is situated in Lucknow Cantonment on 209, Mahatma Gandhi Road. This church was built in 1860 but at that time it was small compared to today. With the passage of time, as Lucknow Cantonment began to expand, the number of troops increased as well and a need for a bigger church was felt.

It was decided in 1908 that a bigger church was extremely necessary. After the new church was reconstructed, it was rechristened as All Saints New Garrison Church.

In the North-West corner of the All Saints New Garrison Church, about 15-20 feet away, is a stone on which it is written in English that the altar of the church constructed in 1860 was in this place. This proves the fact that the new church is situated a little South-East of the old church.

This was the first church to be built for the Anglican Church. It was designed in 1908 by a British Engineer named Jones Ransom, who has also made the design for the Saint Mungo’s Church of Scotland in Lucknow Cantonment. When he returned to England, the work was completed by Lishman under the supervision of Architect John Baggs.

The total cost incurred in the construction of this church was Rs. 91,000/-. The building of this church is quite large and imposing. The architecture of this church is inspired by Magdalene College, Oxford. Above the main door of the church, situated in the west, is a tall tower which houses the church bell.

On the main door of the church, a message greets all the visitors. Carved in stone, it reads, “Whosoever thou art that enterest this church, leave it not without one Prayer to God for thyself, for those who minister, and for those who worship here.”

As mentioned, the main design of the church was prepared by Mr. Ransom, but after he moved to England, the subsequent engineers made a few changes to the design. For example, the tower was constructed a little shorter than it was originally intended and the side walls were also reduced in thickness and height, so that some savings could be done. Yet, even after these changes, the building is still imposing and elegant. This church has a larger seating capacity than any church in Lucknow. The quadrangle of the church is also quite large and has seating areas made out of ply. The prominent feature of these seats is that every bench has a niche for keeping guns on the upper-back side. This was probably done so that every soldier who was either on duty or was returning from duty could participate in the prayers, along with his weapons.

Another reason might be because during the Revolt of 1857, the revolutionaries had entered the churches to attack British and many officers had to lose their lives, so people might have been permitted to carry weapons in the church during prayers. During the British rule, the Sunday prayers were attended by many people, but the church is slowly losing its sheen. Apart from festivals, no more than 50 people attend the Sunday prayers now.

Writer is an avid reader. Writing short stories and debating are his interests.

(Published in The Lucknow Observer, Volume 2 Issue 17, Dated 05 August 2015)

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