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The St. John’s Church is a huge rectangular construction in the neoclassical architectural style. A stone spire 174 ft. tall comprising a giant clock is the most distinguishing feature of the church.

History & Architecture

St. John’s Church is the third oldest Church of Kolkata and the first Anglican Church of the city. The land was donated by Maharaja Naba Krishna of Sovabazar. The foundation stone was laid by Governor-General Warren Hastings. Funds for the construction of the church were raised through a public lottery. St. John’s Church was opened to the public in 1787 and was designed by architect James Agg of Bengal Engineers. It was modeled according to St. Martin in the Fields Church of London. St. John’s served as the Anglican Cathedral of Kolkata till 1847 when the new cathedral of St. Paul’s was constructed. St. John’s Church, with its 174 feet high clock tower, is built with a combination of brick and stone. Stone was a rare material in the flood plains of Bengal. The stones, used in the church, were shipped from the medieval ruins of Gour, via the Hooghly River.
St. John's Church Kolkata

Church Interiors

St. John's Church Kolkata
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Tall columns frame the church building on both sides. The entrance is through an arched gateway beneath a stately portico. The floor is a rare mixture of blue-gray marbles brought from Gour, Malda. The main altar contains intricate mosaic works and behind the altar is a semi-circular dome. To the left of the altar hangs the painting of Last Supper drawn by Johann Zoffany. On the right of the main altar, is a small and simple altar with a panel of stained glass. The interior walls of the church are studded with beautiful marble memorial tablets, dedicated to British army officials and civil servants. Zoffany’s Last Supper is not an exact replica of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece. Rather, Zoffany gave an Indian touch to the Biblical event. Indian styled swords, water jugs and Goatskin made water bags give the painting a distinctive Indian touch. The painting was originally drawn in 1787 and restored in 2010 by the painting conservator Renate Kant.The most unique feature of Zoffany’s Last Supper is the selection of models. Jesus and his twelve disciples were portrayed as eminent personalities of Kolkata. Jesus was portrayed as Greek priest Father Parthenio, Judas as auctioneer William Tulloh. While John, who looked distinctly feminine, was represented by W. C. Blacquiere, a police magistrate. The marble memorial tablets on the wall also have a distinctive Indian touch. Women in sarees and men with turbans are a common feature. Coconut and banana trees in the backdrop create a distinctive Indian environment. The most interesting plaque in the church is the plaque of James Achilles Kirkpatrick, the central character of William Dalrymple’s best selling work “The White Mughals.” He died in Kolkata on 15th October 1805 and was buried in the North Park Street Cemetery, which no longer exists. James Achilles Kirkpatrick’s father James Kirkpatrick, along with his brothers erected a memorial in memory of his son and can be seen on the southern wall of the St. John’s Church. The memorial of James Pattle, the great-great-grandfather of William Dalrymple, is also located on the walls of White Mughal’s Memorial of the Church.

Church Compound

The Church was built on a graveyard, so the compound has several tombs and memorials, but only a couple of them are older than the church itself. The oldest tomb belongs to Job Charnock, who was once Job Charnock’s Mausoleum, considered the founder of the city. The octagonal Moorish styled mausoleum also contains the grave of Charnock’s wife and several other people.

At the far end of the compound, lies the beautiful tomb of Francis (Begum) Johnson, a lady who married 4 times and lived up to the age of 87. On the Northern balcony of St. John’s Church, lies the elaborately decorated memorial of Lady Canning. The compound also houses the controversial Calcutta Black Hole Memorial, Second Rohilla War Memorial and several other graves.

St. John's Church Kolkata
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Rohilla War Memorial

The memorial contains the body of officers, killed in the Rohilla War.

Black Hole Monument St. Johns Church

Black Hole Monument

John Holwell, the British survivor and later the Governor of Bengal erected a monument at the location of the Black Hole disaster. It was removed in 1822 and again restructured by Lord Curzon in 1901 at the Southwest corner of the Writers’ Building. This was again shifted to its present location at the compound of St. John’s Church in 1940.

Last Supper 1787 CE Johann Zoffany St Johns Church Kolkata 2015 05 09 6650 St. Johns Church

Zofanny’s Last Supper

Johann Zoffany, gave an Indian touch to the historic Biblical event Last Supper in 1787. This painting is not an exact replica of Leonardo’s masterpiece.

St. John's Church Kolkata

Church Vestry

The room of Warren Hastings, one of the Governor-Generals of British-ruled India has been reinstated accurately identical when he used it along with his chair, old Bibles, wooden cupboards & furniture.

Church compound

St. John’s Church is one of the first public buildings constructed by the East India Company after Kolkata became the capital of British India. The construction of the St. John’s Church commenced in 1784 and was concluded in 1787.

St. John's Church Kolkata
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Job Charnock’s Mausoleum

Job Charnock, an aspiring British Colonial administratorarrived in Sutanuti village in 24th August, 1690. He merged the three villages of Sutanuti, Govindopur & Kolikata to form the city of Calcutta. Charnock’s son- in law Charles Ayer erected the octagonal Moorish style tomb in the graveyard of St. John’s Church in 1695.

Exterior view of St. John’s Church

St. John’s Church is one of the first public buildings constructed by the East India Company after Kolkata became the capital of British India. The construction of the St. John’s Church commenced in 1784 and was concluded in 1787.

St. John's Church Kolkata

Pipe organ

Pipe organ is the largest and the oldest in Calcutta, it is more than 200 years old.