St. Stephen's Church

St. Stephen's Church is situated in Ooty on the road that leads to Mysore in the Tamil Nadu, India. This is considered as one of the oldest churches in the Nilgiris district and dates back to the 19th Century.

During the 19th Century, The Governor of Madras named Stephen Rumbold Lushington greatly felt the need for a cathedral that would exclusively serve the British in Ooty. This led to the birth and concept of building the St. Stephen's Church in Ooty and its foundation stone was laid on 23rd April, 1829 ensuring that this date coincides with the birthday of King George IV and John James Underwood who was then the Captain of the Madras Regiment was kept in charge as the architect of this Church.

St. Stephen's Church was consecrated on 5th November, 1830 by the Bishop of Kolkata [then Calcutta], His Excellency John Matthias Turner. The Church was then open to services and public communion on Easter Sunday 3rd April, 1831 and in 1947, the Church was managed under the Church of South India.

St. Stephen's Church depicts the true architecture of the Colonial style of design wherein the beams that hold the church and made of timber were directly imported from the Lal Bagh Palace of Tipu Sultan which was situated on the Island of Seringapatam.

The Material for constructing St. Stephen's Church was carried from Seringapatam up to Sigur Ghat after Tipu Sultan was defeated by the British who achieved a conclusive victory after they breached the walls of the Seringapatam fortress and stormed the citadel. It was during this Battle when Tipu Sultan, then the Ruler of Mysore was killed in action. The British retained indirect control of the kingdom but restored the Wodeyar Dynasty to the throne after their victory.

Captain J. J. Underwood was then assigned as the chief architect and the foundation stone of the Church was laid after which St. Stephen's Church took shape at a construction cost of about Rs. 24,000 during that era. As you enter, you will notice a large painting depicting ‘The Last Supper’ on the western side of the wall situated above the paneled doors.

St. Stephen's Church features beautiful stained glass windows that depict the crucifixion of Lord Jesus Christ and also shows Our Lady Mother Mary holding baby Jesus in her arms. Instead of the usual large hollow bell hanging from the attic, four hammer-like structures are tied on inverted V-shaped wooden planks fastened by wires that produce a musical sound when pulled from the floor. This entire arrangement is placed on a tall and very strong stool with complete access in all directions.

St. Stephen's Church also features a pulpit that is reached via a flight of steps to the left of the chancel, fixed bench-like seats with backs with a raised chancel and a room attached to the Church in the cellar.

St. Stephen's Church is an iconic landmark of Ooty that stands in the prime land as a monumental church that conveys its history to Indians and foreign visitors as well. This Church is the first angelical Christian worshipping centre that was established in the Nilgiris District in Ooty.

St. Stephen's Church serves the spiritual needs of the staff including students of various educational Institutions residing in and around Ooty as well as visitors who attend the church services during their vacation in Ooty. The Church ministry also comprises of the Sunday school, a weekly bible study held every Wednesday, Prayer cell groups and Youth Fellowship programme.

St Stephen’s Church organises ‘The Mission Sale’ on an annual basis in which the Church ministry and various Christian and Social Welfare Organizations participate. This is one of those events where the participants are encouraged to bring forward their handicraft products for the development of their respective missions and the entire Christian community looks forward to every year.

Special Services at the St Stephen’s Church are held during December and January at 09:30 AM for Holy Communion, Christmas, New Year, Easter and the Harvest Festival.

St. Stephen Church Ooty

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