St. George's, Hyderabad



St. George's Church Hyderabad played an important role in the State of Hyderabad in the spiritual and social welfare of the Anglican Community in Hyderabad. Therefore it is only right that such a prominent institution, which was from its earliest beginnings as Christ Church and then St. George's, be recognised for the role it played in touching the countless people who passed through its portals.

Many of the people and their families who stayed in Hyderabad, were of Anglo-Indian background and had their roots in either England, Germany, France, Portugal or Holland. Most of these people were the basis of its foundation and future development. Some passed through with only a fleeting visit. Many stayed and became involved in the administration or ecclesiastical management of the Church and Schools. If only the walls of the Church could speak, it would no doubt have countless stories to tell of the meetings, services, special Church functions such as baptisms, weddings, and funerals that it witnessed.

It gave no consideration to the mighty or lowly who visited its hallowed presence. It accepted the humble prayers and praise offered to Almighty God of many denominations. During special days like Easter and Christmas, it looked itsā splendorous self, decorated by flowers grown in the Church compound and where the voices of the choir and congregation were lifted up in praise and worship in one accord to the glory of God. In early days specially marked family pews were reserved and had their names placed on cards under small brass plaques attached to each pew.

When members passed on they were laid to rest in the small churchyard adjoining the Church compound. When this was filled, they were laid to rest at the Protestant Cemetery at Narayanguda a few miles east of the church on King Koti road.

This history is taken from collected documents held by the Anglican Community of Chadderghat who for many years administered the Church.

THE NEED FOR A CHURCH IN HYDERABAD

Resultant of the steady influx of foreign people into the sub-continent from the earliest times, ostensibly to trade, the commercial competition was great and particularly the rivalry was more intense between the French and the British. Therefore in a country of Princes and Rajahs a spirit of jealousy took root. When the opposing commercial bodies saw this they promised protection of one against the other.

This protection necessitated further in-roads into the country not by traders but by soldiers and the commanders of these troops went beyond the purposes for which they were allegedly introduced by using the troops to subdue smaller rulers or zamindars by force of arms.

The power struggle in the Nizam's State involved both the British and the French and both sides continued to struggle until in 1758, the French forces were recalled to Pondicherry to take part in the attack on Madras. In 1779 a British Resident was installed at the court of the Nizam. Eleven years later under the terms of a fresh treaty, two battalions of Sepoys under British officers were supplied to the Nizam who was responsible for their salaries. A separate clause stipulated that these men were not to be used against the allies of the Company. So gradually the British became a force to be reckoned with not only in military terms but also financially.

Through this period numerous families made their mark in Hyderabad Civil and Military Service under the Nizam's Government and their influence not only helped shape the city but also the church, which in this case was firstly Christ Church and then St. George's. It is pertinent that some recognition is given to these families by briefly mentioning them and their achievements in Hyderabad. The increase of families settling and growing in Hyderabad necessitated the need for a Church. It was then through the good grace of Nizam that this was made possible.

About 1836 under a Firman-e-Mubarak the Community through the good offices of the Resident obtained a piece of land from the Nizam with permission to build a Church. Thus a small Church the present Boys' School, was erected in 1844 and built by the congregation. It was known as Christ Church. Rev Frank Penny in his book on the Churches that were constructed in South India says the Chaderghat folk are very proud of their Church.

The Baptism Register of this original Church which is still held in the St. George's Vestry , has as its introduction the following words penned:

The Church near the Residency to which this register belongs was built by voluntary subscriptions for the use of the Protestant inhabitants worshipping according to the form and manner of the Church of England with the sanction of the Supreme Government of India, on a piece of ground granted for the purpose by His Highness the Nizam's Government at the instance of the British Resident at Hyderabad.

The plan of the building was furnished by Mr. T.W.Wray, Postmaster, who was devoted such time to Superintendence of the work.

The foundation stone was laid in the month of February 1844 and the building complete and opened for Divine Service on the 19th September 1844.

Major General Fraser being Resident at Hyderabad; Major General Anderson - Brigadier Commissioner at Secunderabad.

Revd. G.H. Evans and Revd. A.J. Rogers Chaplains at Secunderabad.

The Church is to be considered the Property of the Protestant Congregation assembling therein and is to be named Christ Church.

This Church had no regular priest but the Chaplains of Secunderabad Cantonment, Presbyterian and Wesleyan Ministers and Laymen conducted services in the Church, the Prayer Book being always used at such services. The Church was licensed and not consecrated that it might be used by Protestant Ministers, and also because there was a feeling that the British might not be permanently in Hyderabad. In 1848 the subscribers to this Church in reply to a letter from the Resident enclosing one from the Bishop of Madras, stated that they did not wish the Church to be consecrated. The first burial took place in 1845. The ordinary affairs of the congregation were managed by Secretary and Wardens, while important matters were referred to the whole Protestant community. The Resident was consulted before any meetings were called.

As a rule the services were conducted without any friction. There was an exception in 1861: The Reverend A.C. Bell, Chaplain of the Church of Scotland, refused to use the Prayer Book. He was a little man, but full of fight. The Reverend H.P. James, Church of England Chaplain, big and boisterous, went bull-headed into battle. At first he was ready to permit the Chaplain of the Church of Scotland to use the Payer Book in the Church, as had been done in the past. Rev. Bell's obstinacy, however, aroused the odium theologicumā in the Anglican clergyman using the Church as setters forth of erroneous and strange doctrine. He hoped that no order of Government would compel Chaplains to allow their Church to be invaded by any sect. Like most men who use strong language he considered it all a matter of sacred principle.


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