St. Thomas Cathedral, Mumbai
St. Thomas Cathedral, Mumbai, completed in 1718, is the first Anglican church in Mumbai (then called Bombay), to improve the "moral standards" of the growing British settlement. It is located on Veer Nariman Road, close to Horniman Circle Gardens and the Flora Fountain.
The name of nearby Churchgate station has reference to this church. One of the gates in the Fort which the East India Company had built to protect their settlement was the entrance to the St. Thomas Church. It was called Churchgate. That is why the whole area towards the West of the Church is called “Churchgate” even today. The street leading to the Church was originally called Churchgate Street and has been more recently renamed (like many streets in Bombay) and is now known as Veer Nariman Road.
The island of Bombay which was a Portuguese possession became a part of the dowry of the Portuguese princess Infanta Catherine of Braganza on her marriage to Charles II of England under the Anglo Portuguese treaty of June 1661. In 1668 King Charles transferred it to the East India Company for a loan of pounds Sterling 50,000 at 6% interest and with a rental of pounds Sterling 10 per annum!
Gerald Aungier was placed in charge of the British East India Company's newly acquired factories at Surat and Bombay, which had until then belonged to Portugal. As Governor of Bombay from 1672—1677, Angier built a church, a hospital, a court of justice and other civic amenities on the English model, and fortified the Company's commercial establishment. The foundation stone for the church was laid in 1676, on Bombay Green, at the present site of the St. Thomas' Cathedral, but over 40 years elapsed before construction could be completed. Richard Cobbe, the Chaplain, completed the construction of the building between 1715 and 1718. It was opened for divine service on Christmas Day 1718, and since then has served continuously as a church.
The church was consecrated a cathedral in July 1837. The tower and the clock at the western end were added in 1838. About 25 years later a major renovation scheme was launched to enlarge the chancel. This was completed by 1865.
Here, many a Briton were laid to rest under elaborate marble tablets engraved with touching elegies — generals and clerks and young maids all lying together in the silent, sundappled interior. Most of the tombstones bear eloquent messages.
Recently the congregation in St. Thomas Cathedral is being led by Rev. Avinash Rangayya.
- J. L. Mehta, Advanced study in the history of modern India 1707-1813, Sterling Publishers (2005), p. 338. ISBN 1-932705-54-6
- Richard Cobbe, Bombay church: or, A true account of the building and finishing the English church at Bombay in the East Indies, London, John Rivington (1766)
- "About Us", St. Thomas Cathedral website
- UNESCO Bangkok, "Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation"
- St. Thomas Cathedral website
- "St. Thomas' Cathedral", Maharashtra State Gazetteer: Greater Bombay District (1986-7; online, 2007)