Address: 2/2 Council House Street,
Kolkata: 700 001
Phone: (033) 2243 6098
8.00 AM-5.00 PM (Sunday-Saturday)
Ticket Rate: Rs 10 for Indians
Sunday morning at 9. After a lazy bed tea, I took the road to photoscape. City walks to me is nothing new to me. In college days, I took the walks with the narrow by lanes of Bhawanipore or College Street. So, weather is a no hindrance for me; especially in summer.
So that Sunday was for me for photoscape. I began it with my cycle. After 30 minutes paddling, I reached to Government Place or Raj Bhawan. Crossing the lands of advocates- High Court and Bangshal Court, I dropped near a church. It’s St. John’s Church. It is one of the oldest churches in oldest Kolkata.
It is originally a cathedral, and among the first building of colonial Kolkata erected on public finance basis by British East India Company. It is the third oldest church in Kolkata after Armenian Church (1724) and Mission Church (1770). The land where St John Church is erected was donated by Maharaja Naba Krishna of Shobhabazar Rajbari. The foundation stone was laid by the Governor General of Bengal, Warren Hastings. The funds for the construction of St. John Church were raised through public lottery.
While walking through the red lanes in the complex of St John’s Church, a feeling works. It is that a place where I am is far from pollution. No sounds can tear the silence. It is a slice of 17th Century Kolkata in the midst of the busy bee.
St John’s Church was opened to public in 1787, designed by James Agg of Bengal Engineer. It is just look like St. Martin in the Fields Church of London. This kirk served as the Anglican Cathedral of Kolkata till 1847, when the new cathedral of St. Paul’s was constructed.
St. John’s Church is an example of plundering done by early British. St. John’s Church has its 174 feet high clock tower. It was built with a combination of brick and stone. The stones of St John’s Church were a rare material in the flood plains of ancient Bengal. The stones used in the church, were shipped from the medieval architectural splendour of Gour now in Malda District.
St. John’s Church has the tall columns frame building on both sides. The entrance point of St John’s Church is through a curved entryway underneath a stately porch. The floor of this church is very interesting. It is a rare mixture of blue and grey marbles brought from Gour. The main altar contains intricate and minute mosaic works and behind the altar is a semi-circular dome. To the left of the altar of the kirk hangs the painting of Last Supper drawn by Johann Zoffany. This is an Indianised Last Supper.
On the right of the main altar of the church is a small and simple altar with the panels of stained glass. The interior walls of St. John’s Church is studded with gorgeous marble memorial tablets of Company style, dedicated to British army officials and civil servants The Last Supper of Johann Zoffany is not an exact replica of Leonardo-da- Vinci’s masterpiece. Rather, Zoffany gave an Indian touch to this last supper of Jesus Christ and his followers. The Indian styled sword, water jugs and goat skin made water bags give the painting a distinctive Indian touch. The painting was originally drawn in 1787 and restored in 2010 by German painting conservator Ranate Kant.
The most unique feature of Zoffany’s Last Supper is the selection of models. Jesus Christ and his twelve disciples were portrayed as eminent personalities of late medieval Calcutta. Jesus was portrayed as Greek priest Father Parthenio, Judas as auctioneer William Tulloh, from his name known as Tollygaunge. While John, who looked distinctively feminine, was represented by W. C. Blacquiere, a police magistrate. The marble memorial tablets on the wall also have a distinctive Indian touch. The women in sarees and men with turban are common features of the painting of this Last Supper. The coconut and banana trees in the backdrop create a distinctive Indian tress.
James Achilles Kirkpatrick, referred as The White Mughal was the central character of William Dalrymple best selling novel “White Mughals” died in Calcutta on 15 October 1805 at the age of 41. He was buried at the North Park Street Cemetery. The memorial of James Achilles Kirkpatrick still exists in the walls on St. John’s Church.
James Kirkpatrick, popularly known as the Handsome Colonel of Bengal, along with his brothers erected a memorial in memory of James Achilles Kirkpatrick on the southern wall of the St. John’s Church.
In the complex of St John’s Church, there are the Job Charnock’s Mausoleum, Black Hole of Calcutta Monument, Second Rohilla War Memorial, Charlotte Canning, Countess Canning Memorial, Francis (Begum) Johnson’s grave, graves of the Judges of Supreme Court of India, now called as High Court of Calcutta and the grave of Lord Braboune.
Enjoy this Phototour: