… a continuation Post of Exploring Poonamallee
15th April 2018.
During our Exploring Poonamallee heritage walk, we covered 19th Century Churches constructed by the Britishers for their officers and Soldiers. The structures are constructed with brick and lime mortar. A Cemetery was also shared between St Mary Magdalene Church and CSI Wesly Church.
St. MARY MAGDALENE CHURCH
The earliest 1796 AD Chaplain was there at Fort St. George. After Converting the Mohammaden Fort of Poonamallee in to a Garrison, it was felt a need of a Church to cater the British Officers and Solders. 1806 AD Rev Hough belonging to Christian Missionary Movement laid down the in 1815 AD and W Sawyer started the construction of this Church for Poonamallee and St Thomas Mount. The Church has the Simple alter, Two chairs, teak wood windows for ventilation, Belgium glasses in alter and the floors are paved with cudappa slabs. The bronze bell was brought from London. Bishop Middleton consecrated the Church on 13th April 1819 AD.
To cater more no of people the Church was expanded on sides in the form of cross to a size of 2142 sq foot in the year 1845 AD and started function a full time Church exclusively for Poonamallee alone. It was happy to note that the old Church wad not pulled down after constructing a new Church with modern amenities. The Church is being used to conduct Bible classes for children on Sundays.
CSI WESLEY CHURCH
There are two old Churches stands east and west side of the new Wesly Church. These churches are part of Methodist Mission. Both Churches might have been built during 19th Century and exact dates are known. Compared to the St Mary Magdalene Church, it was believed that these two Churches catered for the Soldiers. From the records of the Mission in 1823 AD, Elijah Hoole visited this Church for prayers and preached in Tamil to the congregation. At present the Churches are being used for conducting Bible classes to the Children.
St. JOHN THE BAPTIST’S CHURCH.
This Church comes under RC and this parish existed from 1818AD. This Church was constructed in the year 1840 AD by Rev Doctor Carew on a burial ground of Mohammaden Fort of Poonamallee to cater British Soldiers. Latter from the year 1912 AD the Church was used by the pensioners and the Native of Poonamallee Catholics. It was built in the shape of a cross of 59 feet length with a separate Bell tower.
The old Church was pulled down and a new Church was built. The new Church was consecrated on 24th April 1990, by the Dr Casimir Gnanadickam, Arch Bishop of Madras – Mylapore. The 19th century the original Bell tower was retained and stand tall to reminds the past.
A memory stone is also found at the entrance of the Church with inscription plaques on all four sides erected from the public fund. The inscriptions states that this was erected in recognition of Rev Fr. J P Fitzpatrick, who served nearly 40 years as an Ex-Officio member of the Contonment Committee & R C Military Chaplain of Poonamallee. He was born in Roscommon Ireland on 28th May 1848 and died at St Patrick Monastry – Adyar on 17th September 1927 AD.
On the back side it was inscribed that the Lighting was inaugurated by Dewan Bahadur R N Arogyaswami Mudaliar, Ex- Minister, Govt Of Madras on 9th June 1920.
St. MARY MAGDALENE CHURCH CEMETERY
This cemetery was consecrated on 13th April 1819AD. Those who deceased in the Poonamallee garrison was laid to rest in this cemetery. Initially this cemetery was used for both officers and Soldiers of the Garrison – St Mary Magdalene Church & CSI Wesly Church and now the Cemetery is under the control of St Mary Magdalene Church. Some historically important and oldest graves are….
The earliest grave was for a Captain Ambrose Russel belongs to 1795 AD., the elder brother of Irish Radical Thomas Russel ( Who was executed in Ireland )
Major Donald Mc Donald – 1799 AD, who headed the 2nd Battalion in charge of the siege of Seringapatnam. Belongs to 34th Battalion of Madras Native Infantry in Vellore in 1794 AD which became 84th Punjabis in 1903AD, and the regiment was absorbed in Pakistan Army. He died in the year 1799. AD.
Lieutenant Patrick heron Newall in 1809AD, who served in Madras European Regiment.
Ensign Ingleby – 1818 AD from St Helena where Napolean was held captive.