Among the famous churches in India, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, have you ever heard of one which allowed people to carry weapons inside? All Saints Garrison Church, located in the Cantonment area of Lucknow, is one of them.
Before you jump to any conclusions, you should know how and why such a development came to take place, and the circumstances which led to it. As you enter the church, a sign greets you at the main door which reads, Whosoever thou art that enterest this church, leave it not without one Prayer to God for thyself, for those who minister, and for those who worship here.
It is a large impressive building to come across, one that is visible from quite a distance. At one point in time, it served as a church for those British residents who settled in the Cantonment area after escaping the British Residency when it was attacked by Indian sepoys. Even though it wears a forlorn look today, it does not fail to impress with its size and aesthetical elements. Stare at it from a distance for quite some time though, and you will feel a loneliness in the atmosphere, as if the church was yearning for the days gone by. Among the many churches to visit in Lucknow, this is one which you should not miss.
Though the All Saints Garrison Church impresses visitors with its size today, it wasn't always so. It was first built in 1860, and was considerably smaller in terms of its size and proportions then. As time passed, however, the Lucknow Cantonment (the new settlement of the British after they had escaped the Residency) grew in size, as did the number of troops. Naturally, the need for a larger church was felt.
After the construction of the new church was completed, it was named All Saints New Garrison Church. In fact, if you head towards the north west corner of the church about 15 to 20 feet away, you will come across a stone. The stone stands at the very same spot where the altar of the church was constructed in 1860.
The new church was built in 1908 by Jones Ransom, a British engineer who is also credited with having created the design for Saint Mungo's Church of Scotland in the Cantonment area of Lucknow. Although he had made considerable progress with the construction of the church, he had to leave it midway and return to England. The work was then completed by Lishman who was supervised by the notable architect John Baggs.
The most interesting part of its history though, is the decision to allow guns inside its premises. It is commonly believed that during the Revolt of 1857, the Indian sepoys had entered the premises to attack the British and as a result, many had lost their lives. To avoid that tragedy, people were permitted to carry weapons inside during prayers.
In terms of architecture, the All Saints Garrison Church stands second to none. It is imposing, particularly its facade which is marked by an enormous tower. Even though the church was originally built by Jones Ransom, it underwent subsequent modifications under engineers who succeeded him. An example of this is the tower, which, in its original form, was meant to be taller than its present height. Another example is the side walls which were greatly reduced in both thickness and height, so as to save the overall expenses.
However, even though its construction was largely influenced by considerations of money and expenses, it still manages to retain its elegance. When it comes to the seating capacity though, this church has a larger seating capacity than any other church in Lucknow. Its large space is also visible in the quadrangle, which has seating areas made of ply.
It is the seating arrangements though, which strike the attention of the visitors and stand out as far as the architecture of the church is concerned. All the benches consist of a niche which was once used for keeping guns on the upper back side. This was done to enable the soldiers returning from their duties to participate in the prayers and other rituals while being in possession of their weapons.
Lucknow is dotted with plenty of tourist places which offer great opportunities for sightseeing and exploration. After visiting All Saints Garrison Church, here are some of the other places which you can check out.
All Saints Garrison Church is a place of worship and can be visited throughout the year, subject to the timings of the church. However, it is located in the Cantonment area of Lucknow. It can get quite hot during the summers, with temperatures averaging 42°C. This can be daunting for a lot of people. If the heat is not a bother for you though, you can visit the All Saints Garrison Church during this time. Others find the cool and pleasant weather during the winters to be perfect for a trip to Lucknow. You can also do the same if you prefer travelling in such weather.