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St. Mary's Church

This pretty 17th-century church forms part of the historic Fort St. George and presents a reminder of when Chennai was a British-ruled trading post.

Revisit olden times at St. Mary’s Church, where over three centuries of history lie within an enchanting colonial monument. Get a glimpse into the ecclesiastical life of important figures during the British occupancy of India. St. Mary’s Church sits in a quiet garden amid the bustle of the historic Fort St. George. Established by members of the East India Company, the church dates back to 1678.

The church has a simple exterior design shaded by tall bushy trees. The prominent features are the spire and clock tower, added at the end of the 17th century. Note the thick walls and roof, specifically designed to withstand harsh weather conditions and bombings. 

Enter the church to see an interesting collection of religious paintings and sculptures, commemorative plaques and memorials. Many of the exhibits have information signs in English. Check out the tombs of former governors of Fort St. George and military leaders who fought in the wars of the Indian subcontinent. Admire the marble statue of Adjutant General Conway and a bust of Vere Henry Lord Hobart.

Walk through the church’s nave and admire the three aisles, characterized by stone archways. Go to the altar to see a painting by an unknown artist entitled the Last Supper. Look for the registry, which documents marriages such as that of Elihu Yale, a philanthropist and co-founder of Yale University.

Situated in Fort. St George, the church is about a 10-minute drive from Chennai’s city center and the George Town neighborhood. The nearest train station is Chennai Fort Railway. While here be sure to explore Fort St. George, a 17th-century citadel and former headquarters of the East India Company. A major highlight is the Fort Museum, which has displays of military artifacts and a portrait gallery, among other exhibits.

St. Mary’s Church is open from Monday to Saturday and admission is free.


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