St. Paul’s Church – Kandy


St. Paul's Church in Kandy, Sri Lanka, presents a rich tapestry of history, architecture, and cultural significance, nestled in the heart of the country's "Hill Capital." Its story begins in 1825 when the second Bishop of Calcutta, Reginald Heber, recognized the need for a dedicated church building during his visit for a Confirmation Service. The British military garrison and a few Ceylonese were using the ancient Audience Hall of the Kings of Kandy for worship​​.

Significantly, King George III contributed a silver-gilt communion set to the church, acknowledging its service to the British military garrison. This set is still in use, particularly during Easter and Christmas services. The British government later allocated Crown land for the church's construction in 1843, highlighting religious harmony and tolerance, especially given its proximity to the Temple of the Tooth, a sacred Buddhist site​​.

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Construction of the first Episcopal Church in Kandy began with laying the cornerstone in March 1843. Though still under construction, the church opened its doors in 1846, reflecting a simplistic design due to limited funds. The church was formally consecrated and named "St. Paul's" in January 1853 by the first Bishop of Colombo, James Chapman, serving primarily as a garrison church for British regiments​​​​.

Priests at St. Paul's, referred to as "Chaplains," played a significant role in the military history of the British occupation of the Kandyan provinces. Memorial tablets in the church honour the contributions of these chaplains, officers, and men, including those from the Ceylon Rifle Regiment and the Ceylon Mounted Infantry​​.

Architecturally, St. Paul's is notable for its cruciform design, airy interior, and absence of pillars except for the central centre aisle. The church features a simple square west tower with battlements adorned with clocks and housing a set of chimes and a medium-sized bell. The entire structure is made of terracotta brick, a unique example of British architecture in Sri Lanka, characterized by its austere brick walls and towering presence​​.

Over the years, the church has undergone various structural changes. In 1878, Archdeacon Matthew spearheaded significant enlargement and adornment efforts, and in 1908, wrought iron entrance gates fabricated in England were added. These enhancements contribute to the church's aesthetic and historical richness​​.


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