The British originally came to India to trade. Gradually they worked themselves into power, and India became one of the countries of the British Empire. In Pune [Poonah, Poona] and its suburb Khadki [Kirkee] they had a big military set-up. It was therefore only natural that the British felt the need for having a church for their military personnel. Thus garrison churches came into existence. This is the oldest established Church in Poona or its neighbourhood. The Church was built by Lieut.Nash of the East India Company’s Engineers. The tower at the west end of the church is surmounted by a mixture of lath and plaster.
The church accommodates over 1000 worshippers. The bell in the tower at present replaced the original one and was brought from Kaira Church. The Church foundation were laid by Bishop Reginald Heber (Image to the right) in 1825. The Bishop has left an excellent account of his journey up to Poona from Bombay. He describes the Church as spacious, convenient building but in bad architectural taste. The seating arrangements appear o have been altered by successive chaplains with a view to accommodate increase demands, as a military Church and to supply the needs of an increasing civilian population. The organ seems to have quiet a history of its own.It reached Poona in 1869 when an organ chamber had to be built for its reception. Unfortunately in a few years time it became quiet dilapidated, and was sent to England for repairs and its place supplied by a harmonium.It was only in the year 1905. The organ, thoroughly repaired and renovated, was re-established and re-opened.
Being the oldest and the most represented Church of Poona St. Mary’s naturally contains a great many memorials of “Sages who wrote and warriors who bled”. The stones and brasses commemorate many noble names.
One who was buried in the Church itself has placed over him the following inscription; Beneath this stones are the mortal remains of Sir Robert Grant (Image on the left) , Knight Grand Cross of the Guelphs of Hanover, one of Her Majesty’s Most Honorable Privy Councilors and the Governor of Bombay. He died at Daporee on the 9th July 1838, in the sixtieth year of his age. The stained glass window over the communion table was erected by Colonel Nasmyth, a superintendent of Trigonometrical Survey. The late Mr.R.G.Oxenham, Director of Public Construction, designed the window. The north side gives an Annunciation of the Virgin and Moses at the Burning Bush . The south side represents the Ascension above ,the translation of Elisha. The middle window potrays Our Lord in Majesty whilst beneath is Moses in prayer for victory over Amalek. The Baptistery window, to the memory of Brigadier-General Sewell represents Noah’s sacrifice, the Israelites crossing the Red Sea and the Circumcision and Baptism. The Lectern, which dates from 1870,was executed by a native boy under the superintendence of Colonel Finch, from designs by a London firm. The Altar Cross was presented by a lady in memory of her brother.
Beside these there are many monuments to the officers who died in action, and some who died here from other cause This church was part of the Church of England, which later became an independent Province of the Anglican Communion with the name ‘Church of India, Pakistan, Burma & Ceylon’.The word ‘Burma’ was dropped after that country became independent. A major change occurred in 1970 when the Church of North India came into existence as a result of union of six different church denominations, and this church became a part of the Church of North India.