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Holy Trinity Church remains the main church in Murree

September 09, 2018

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The pews of Holy Trinity Church were installed more than 150 years ago.
The pews of Holy Trinity Church were installed more than 150 years ago.

The Holy Trinity Church is one of many churches the British built in Murree during their rule, several of which still stand today.

The Holy Trinity Church was built in 1857, the same year that the people of the subcontinent waged war against their foreign rulers. The first brick of the church was laid on March 2, 1850, but the church bell first rang on May 17, seven years later, to signal the formal start of church services for army and civil administration officials in the British army’s Northern Command.

The main prayer hall can accommodate more than 400 people at a time. The east, north and south windows of the hall are stained glass, in the Anglo-Indian style, and the roof and floor are wood. The church furniture, such as the altar, lectern, pulpit and so on, are wooden and decorated with Kashmiri carving.

A pipe organ used for hymns and carols as old as the church itself stands in its original place, but is no longer in working condition.

Along the wall, plaques hold details of prominent individuals who died in Murree during the colonial period.

Maj W.U. Cole and Maj F.S. Dimon, 3rd Dragoon Guards ((Prince of Wales’), died in Murree on Sept 3, 1982; a plaque has been installed in memory of both men by the officers and members of their regiment.

The church was one of the first buildings on The Mall.
The church was one of the first buildings on The Mall.

Another plaque has been installed in memory of Maj Gen John Anderson Barstow of the Queen’s Bengal Army, who died in Murree on June 9, 1863, at the age of 66.

A white marble baptismal font also stands in the main hall, which is used to baptise children. It was installed in memory of an army official who died at the Morcha outpost in Balochistan on April 11, 1890, at the age of 26.

Keyboard of the pipe organ in the main hall.
Keyboard of the pipe organ in the main hall.

“For the last 161 years, the church has provided baptism services for children from the region. Many British were baptised at this church until 1947,” Reverend Naeem Shakir, the pastor in-charge, told Dawn.

Among the many baptised by the church was Murree-born Gen Reginald Edward Harry Dyer, who was known for his military action in Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar.

A plaque at the entrance of the church hall.
A plaque at the entrance of the church hall.

Reverend Shakir said it was tradition to donate windows or other items in memory of people who had played significant roles in their fields.

He also pointed out a brass Bible stand and a sermon post, which were installed in memory of senior British army officers.

Reverend Shakir said the church building was one of the first on The Mall, and other buildings cropped up around. It was originally a red brick building, but was later restored in grey bricks.

The pastor in-charge said the church was in need of government attention in order to improve its condition. The Holy Trinity Church is the main church in Murree, he said, and requires a befitting restoration.

The brass steeple and bell of Holy Trinity Church. — Photos by Mohammad Asim
The brass steeple and bell of Holy Trinity Church. — Photos by Mohammad Asim

Just 10 years after the Holy Trinity Church began church services, the first brick was laid for the Roman Catholic Church, which stands between the Jesus and Mary Convent and Combined Military Hospital on The Mall.

Although the church is need of preservation work, the wood floor and roof are in good shape, and the main prayer hall can accommodate more than 300 at a time.

An old worker of the church, Matloob Masih, said the sculptures of Jesus and Mary, Latin letters and other items in the hall were old things that the British had brought with them.

The church is also attached to a house and office for the bishop, and has the oldest library in Murree.

Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2018