Being the first Christian shrine to be built in the capital city of India, St. James’ Church is one of the oldest churches in Delhi that date back to 19th century. Even after locating near one of the most teeming places in Delhi, Kashmiri Gate, the church boasts serene and spiritual surrounding that attracts a large number of people from every region. Initially, St. James church was known as the Skinner’s Church who was the founder of this revered shrine. For devotees, the church proffers a perfect ambiance to indulge in a deep prayer or to meditate for a while. Although on a normal, the church does not receive a large gathering of devotees, however, a number of tourists still visit the place every day. Unlike the other days, Sundays are always thronged with pilgrims, mainly the members of the Church. Other than this, the festivals which are celebrated at the church with so much ardour and devotion are Christmas, Palm Sunday, and Easter. Amongst these, Christmas marks the significant footfall of both tourists and devotees at this religious place in Delhi. For children, St. James’ Church also organises Sunday school which aims to connect them with the religious education. The school also impart them Biblical knowledge along with the Christian values. Coming onto the history of this place, there is a beautiful story associated with the construction of this pristine church.
St. James’ Church was built by Colonel James Skinner who took an oath while lying wounded on the battleground that, if he survived, he would build a church to thank God. However, it is said that the construction of the church was observed somewhere between 1826 to 1836 and it was designed by Robert Smith. In 1836, this popular church in Delhi got consecrated. At present St. James’ Church serves as an important religious centre for people of the Christian community. The importance of this holy abode can be discovered with the fact this gorgeous is also visited by many important personalities which include a visit of Queen Elizabeth II in 1961, Justin Welby in 2015 - the present Archbishop of Canterbury. Along with that, the Archbishop of Canterbury of 1995 has also visited this place in 1995. Above all that, the church also houses various tombs; amongst those one tomb is of William Fraser - The British Commissioners of Delhi, whereas, the other one is of Thomas Metcalfe who was an agent to Governor General in India. Besides these, the remains of James Skinner are also buried here in the church in a white marble vault under the communion table. However, the remains were exhumed from Hansi where he was initially buried. Along with that, the church is also the resting place of Skinner’s family including his fourteen wives and children. They all are buried in the north of the church.
St. James Church was built by James Skinner on his own expense. However, the architectural design of the church is given by Major Robert Smith. Built on a cruciform plan, the church boasts a basic Renaissance Revival architectural design with three porticoes entrances, a central dome in an octagon shape and circular space under it and stained glass windows placed above the altar. The church’s building also includes a cross on the top and a copper ball, which are believed to be the exact replication of that of a church in Venice. However, during the 1857 revolt, both the copper ball and the cross got damaged which later replaced. The church complex also has lawns which have a capacity of accommodating around 1200 people at a time. The lawns are also used for marriage, thanksgiving, anniversary, baptism, birthday, and confirmation. Whereas, the Parish Hall also hosts various function and can accommodate up to 100 people.
St. James' Church, Church Rd, Mori Gate, New Delhi - 110006, India
The timings of St. James’ Church varies as per the season. In the summer, the service timing of church starts from 8:30 in the morning. Whereas, for the winter season (October to March), the church operates from 9 in the morning.
How to Reach
Kashmiri Gate serves as the nearest metro station to St. James’ Church in Mori Gate. The distance between the church and the station is just a few metres, and hence, can be easily covered by walking. Kashmiri Gate station lies on Yellow Line and is one of the busiest stations of Delhi metro.
Best Time to Visit
One can visit the church at any time during the year. However, the time of Christmas is considered the best time to visit St. James’ Church in Delhi. During this time, the church receives a heavy gathering of visitors and the festival is celebrated in a special way.
Nearby Tourist Attractions:
Once you are done with visiting St. James’ Church, there are plenty of more options where you can straightaway head to. These attraction are located in near proximity to the church.
- Chandni Chowk
- Lal Quila (Red Fort)
- Jama Masjid
- Chawri Bazar
- Nicholson Cemetery
- Mahatma Gandhi Park
- St. Stephen’s Church
- Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib
- Salimgarh Fort