Old British 'Military Church' of M'lore

St. Paul’s Protestant Church adjacent to Nehru Maidan in Mangalore. (Right) St Paul’s cemetry at Old Kent Road.

This quaint church is said to be one of the oldest Protestant Church in South Canara. The fact that it was built in 1842 to cater to the needs of British military units stationed in Mangalore and the small English community engaged in the local administration gives it a heritage value.  

St.Paul’s Church now stands in a unique style on an half acre land. During the time of British it was the main seat of administration called Fort St Sebastian. Old photographs depict a cannon being fired in front of the church at mid-day.

After the death of Tippu Sultan in ‘Seringapatam’ war, British became sovereign rulers and Mangalore became a strategical point. A garrison was stationed to guard the Western passes to Mysore.

The Chaplin of the military Rev. Whitford, requested a permanent church in 1841 which was granted soon and in 1842 Rev. Alfred Fenell took charge of the St Paul’s church and completed the construction work at a cost of about Rs 6000. Interestingly it is said that the work was done with the help of prisoners. It was inaugurated on January 5, 1843 by Bishop Spencer from the Church of England.  

In 1897, extensive renovation was made and later the clock tower was added by the church members. The two sided clock was made and fitted by the Basel Mission which still gives the time. St. Paul’s cemetery is now maintained by CSI churches and can be seen on Old Kent Road, near the railway tracks of the present Mangalore Central Station.

In the earlier days Basel Mission used St. Paul’s for worship which was predominantly in Kannada, until the construction of ‘Shanthi Cathedral’ at Balmatta in 1862.

Later on it came to the possession of Basel Mission and then to CSI. St Paul’s completed 150 years in 1993 and it was extended with two side wings. There are about 150 families and students who use St Paul’s mostly on Sunday’s. In 2003, then CSI Bishop of Mangalore Rev. C L Furtado opened a new community hall at the rear of the church donated by Manorama Joshua.

With lots of changes taking place all around hope these heritage monuments will not lose their importance and be forgotten edifices for the citizens of the future.

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