St Peter's Church - Churches and Syanagogues
30-11-2018    78 times
St Peters Church

People of Calcutta are mostly unaware about the Neo-Gothic structure of the St Peter’s Church, located in the heart of Fort William in Calcutta.

Siraj Ud Daulah, the young Nawab of Bengal, was apprehensive about the politico-military presence of the British in Bengal. He was already annoyed, as the British East India Company deliberately abused the trade privileges granted to them by the Mughal rulers, which caused heavy loss of customs duties for the government. Apart from that, they gave shelter to some of his officers, who fled to Dhaka after misappropriating government funds. Hence, when the British company started further enhancement of military preparedness at Fort William in Calcutta, Siraj could not take it anymore and he ordered to immediately stop the procedure. However, the British company did not pay any heed to his warning. As a result of their indifference to his authority, the infuriated Nawab attacked and captured Calcutta from the British in June 1756, and finally demolished Fort William. However, it was a short lived victory and being betrayed by Mir Jafar, the commander of Nawab's army, Siraj was completely defeated by the British force under the leadership of Lord Clive at the Battle of Plassey on 23 June 1757 and was subsequently executed on 2 July 1757.

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After removing Siraj, Robert Clive started rebuilding the British fort in 1758, which was completed in 1781 at a cost of approximately two million pounds.

St Peter Church, in Fort William, Calcutta - by William Prinsep 1835
St Peter's Church, in Fort William, Calcutta - by William Prinsep 1835
St Peter Church - 1866
St Peter's Church - 1866

The St. Peter's Church came up much later, within the compound of the new fort. Built by Capt Hutchinson and designed by John Brohier, the structure of the church is polygonal in form and has extensive defenses including bastions, earthworks and a moat.

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The foundation stone of the proposed church was laid in 1822 and after completion of the construction the building was opened for worship in 1825. Later, it was consecrated in 1828. The church is decorated with beautiful stained glass, marble relief works and a copy of the Last Supper.

St Peter Church - interior
St Peter's Church - interior

However, today the church is no longer in operation. The building now serves as a library for the troops of HQ Eastern Command. Numerous memorials were erected there to honour the military personnel who died in battle or otherwise in military service. There are no burials here - the memorials are all cenotaphs. Some of the memorials are for people buried in another cemetery but many are for those who lost their lives in other countries or who died at sea.

St Peter Church - interior
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Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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