St Mary’s First British Church In India, Madras, 1880 Photo

St Mary's First British Church In India, Madras, 1880 Photo

A beautiful photo of St Mary’s the first British Church in India from 1880. Located inside Fort St George, Madras, now Chennai. Construction of the church began in 1678 and was completed in 1680. It also has the distinction of being the oldest masonry structure in the Fort. The architect is believed to have been William Dixon.

A musical pipe organ was installed in 1687. The church’s interior had the indispensable hand-pulled punkahs to cool the congregation. It was on the sole initiative of the Governor of Fort St George Streyusham Master (1678-1681) that the church was built. The steeple was added in 1710. St Mary’s had more than once been utilized for military purposes.

When the French took Madras in 1746 they used the Church as a reservoir for fresh water. When the French again tried to besiege Madras in 1758 (although unsuccessfully), it served as a lookout post. And was used as a British Barracks, where 150 men were quartered. The steeple sustained such damage that it was found necessary to demolish it in 1767. It was rebuilt in 1795. During the war with Hyder Ali, the church was used as a granary in 1782. Despite the dire calamities it faced in the past, the Church still serves its congregation proudly today.

Read also Know Fort St George – 12, The Church of St Mary’s.

Did you know – the first marriage ceremony in the church was that of Elihu Yale, the future Governor of Fort St George (1687 to 92), after whom Yale University in the USA was named. 

Past posts – Raja Ravi Varma’s Wife Bhageerathi Bayi, Rare 1870 Photo., British Cantonment At Deolali – Old Postcard 1895., Army Games Bombay British India Era, Old Print 1895.

The images are of the actual items from my collection. And Not a photocopy, pirated, reproduced, stock photos, or taken from other sources.


Photo Details

Year -


Photograph Size -

11 x 9 inch

Photographer -

Nicholas & Co