St Paul's Church

Built: 1858

Location: Hunters Road Vepery Madras

Consecrated: 1858

Denomination: Protestant

Notes: In 1825 the S.P.C.K. Had transferred its missions in India to the S.P.G. Which appointed missionaries to act at the church in Vepery alongside the Chaplains of the East India Company.

However, the Government Chaplains officiating at St. Matthias Church, adopted an unfriendly attitude towards the society. Further there was a clash between the English and Tamil services, which caused a dispute in 1844 and made the joint occupancy of the church undesirable. It was therefore arranged that the church should be transferred to the Government and that the society should receive in compensation a sum equal to the entire cost of the site and the construction of a new church. The formal transfer of St. Matthias Church took place in 1852.

The S.P.G. Missionaries and their Indian congregation then withdrew from St. Matthias Church and left it to the English congregation under the care of the Government chaplains.

A new site of 1 acre 82 cents (S. No.925) was chosen by Rev. John Guest and Rev. H. Bower and the purchase was made from Mrs. Anne Hill (or her son Thomas Hill) for a cost of Rs. 8,500 on 22nd May 1853 and later transferred to the Mission by them on 14th July. The foundation stone of this new church (later known as St. Pauls Church) designed by Rev. S. Percival, the mission architect was laid by Lord Harris, the Governor of Madras, on 9th February 1855 in the presence of distinguished persons such as Bishop Daniel Wilson, the Metropolitan of India and Bishop Thomas Dealtry of Madras, the Venerable V. Shortland, Archdeacon of Madras, and Rev. A. R. Symonds, Secretary of the S.P.G Missions. During the next three years, the structure grew into a beautiful Gothic building in spite of a severe storm in 1856 which stopped its construction for some months. The St. Pauls Church was opened for worship on 19th of September 1858 by Rev. Guest and Rev. H. Bower, when a congregation of over seven hundred attended.
The consecration took place on 18th November 1858, and Bishop Dealtry preached on Psalm XXVI. 8 : “ Lord, I have loved the habitation of Thy house, and the place where Thy honour dwelleth.” .

The mission areas of Egmore, Vepery and San Thome had zealous and reliable native pastors, and the appointment of Rev. S. G. Yesudian, an energetic Tinnelvelly evangelist, to Vepery St. Pauls Church in 1863 led to a much needed development of evangelistic work in Madras District.

References: The Church In Madras, Rev Frank Perry, (1904)