St. Thomas Cathedral

St. Thomas Cathedral, Mumbai, is the 300-year-old cathedral church of the Diocese of Mumbai of the Church of North India. It is named in honor of Saint Thomas the Apostle, who is believed to have first brought Christianity to India. The cathedral is located in Horniman Circle, the historic center of Mumbai. It is in close proximity to famous Mumbai landmarks such as Flora Fountain and Bombay House. It is one of the oldest churches in Mumbai.

The foundation stone of the church was first laid in 1676, although the church was only finally consecrated for divine service in 1718. It is the first Anglican church in Mumbai (then called Bombay), within the walls of the fortified British settlement. The cathedral is a landmark in South Mumbai and one of the oldest churches in India. The Cathedral and John Connon School was created in 1860 in order to provide choristers to the church. It is used by the school for its Founder's Day Service on 14 November every year, Carol Service on the last day before the school's Christmas vacation, and other special occasions.

The Churchgate railway station derives its name from the St. Thomas Cathedral, as the station was linked to the cathedral by a road leading through one of the three gates of the fortified island city of Mumbai. The walls of the Bombay Fort were demolished in 1862, and the gate leading to the church was replaced by the Flora Fountain in 1864.


As the tallest structure in Fort, St. Thomas Cathedral once acted as a visual landmark. Over the years, the spire was remodeled to make it look more Gothic. It houses a belfry and clock tower. Though the bells are no longer operational, they are still in the spire, where they were installed in 1798. The clocks, however, are still operational.

View of Nave and Apse

St. Thomas Cathedral is the first Anglican church in Mumbai and one of the oldest structures within Bombay Fort. The church was built on an open space known as Bombay Green, which was later developed as Elphinstone Circle (Horniman Circle). The surrounding area is named Churchgate, after the city gate, which stood close to the church.

Marble memorials, West wall

St. Thomas Church was dedicated to the spiritual needs of the Anglican community living within Bombay Fort. The foundation stone was laid by Governor Gerald Aungier, who pressed for the establishment of the church. Among the historic treasures kept at the church is a silver chalice presented by Gerald Aungier to the Anglican Christian community in 1675.

Memorial to Richard Cobbe

Memorial to Richard Cobbe, the East India Company chaplain who "stirred up his countrymen to complete the church." Though the foundation stone was laid in 1676, construction got delayed due to a lack of funds, raids by hostile enemies, and repeated plague outbreaks. The church was consecrated for divine worship on Christmas Day, 1718.

Stained glass artwork

St. Thomas church was inaugurated by the then Governor of Bombay, Charles Boone, on Christmas Day, 1718. At the time, it was referred to as the Church of Bombay. The church was consecrated on 7th June 1816 by Thomas Fanshawe Middleton, the first Anglican Bishop of Calcutta, and dedicated to St. Thomas the Apostle.

North aisle

Reverend William Kew Fletcher, arch chaplain at the time, saw an opportunity to restore St. Thomas Church during the economic boom in the wake of the American Civil War (1861-1865). The work was assigned to James Trubshawe, architect to the Government of Bombay, who prepared renovation plans in the traditional Gothic Revival architecture that was popular at the time.

Choir and Apse

James Trubshawe had ambitious plans for a complete makeover of St. Thomas Church, but the plan couldn't be executed in its entirety. Nevertheless, he recognized the emerging trend of Gothic Revival style and incorporated Gothic elements (like stained glass windows) to make the church appear visually consistent with Victorian Gothic buildings in Mumbai.

Latin inscription on Chancel steps

In recognition of Reverend William Kew Fletcher's services towards the restoration of St. Thomas Church, his friends laid down a memorial in the form of Latin inscriptions on the steps leading to the Chancel. The inscriptions mention his name, ecclesiastical rank (arch chaplain), and Roman numerals of the year, MDCCCLXXI (1871), in which it was inscribed.

Choir room

Entry to the St. Thomas Church is from the west (seen on the right). Walls on both sides of the entrance lobby are covered in memorials. The antechamber (seen in the center) is used as the choir room. Above the choir room door hangs an old photograph of the Church Gate, which was demolished along with the ramparts of Bombay Fort in the mid-1860s.

Chancel Gate

The chancel gate of St. Thomas Church was presented in 1865. Painted in black and gold, the wrought iron gate is intricately designed in a geometric pattern with decorative floral motifs. The detail is typical of Gothic tracery and known as patera, with the use of flowers, flowing creepers, and leaves. The separate floral elements are riveted to the gate.


View of the central hall of St. Thomas Church from the lobby. The chancel gates separate the hall from the lobby, also called the narthex. The purpose of the narthex was to allow those not eligible for admittance into the general congregation to partake of the service from a distance. The floor is covered in Minton tiles made in Staffordshire, England.


Stained glass works on the fanlight with a golden cross. A foliage motif paired with a blue band runs around the border. A fanlight is a semicircular or semi-elliptical-shaped window with glazing bars or tracery sets radiating like an open fan, hence its name. This fanlight is placed above the door on the entrance (west) to St. Thomas Church.

Baptismal Font

Adjacent to the west wall, on the left side of the entrance, is the baptismal font. The font was presented in 1861 and made from Caen stone. Five squat pillars made of green color Devonshire marble uphold the font. The squat pillars rest upon basements also made from Caen stone, which in turn is supported by a plinth made from basalt stone.

Canterbury cross

Dated from around 850 CE, a Saxon-era brooch was discovered in 1867 during excavations at St. Georges Street, Canterbury. Cast in bronze with complex decorations, the design was replicated for a stone cross erected at Canterbury Cathedral. Similar replicas, mounted on fragments of stone from Canterbury Cathedral, are placed in Anglican Cathedrals worldwide. The cross sent to the Diocese of Bombay is embedded in the west wall of St. Thomas Cathedral (at the bottom, between the two plaques as seen in the above figure).

Lady Chapel

The Lady Chapel (seen here) is a traditional British term for a chapel dedicated to "Our Lady", Mother Mary. The chapel has some notable memorials, including Daniel Seton, Lieutenant-Governor of Surat Castle (top left), and Katherine Kirkpatrick (top right), mother to James Achilles Kirkpatrick, who served as Company Resident at Hyderabad (Deccan).


Kneeler at the St. Thomas Church altar. A kneeler is a cushion (a tuffet or hassock) used for resting the knees in a kneeling position during Christian prayer. Seen in the background are the brass eagle lectern and the grand piano.

Brass Eagle lectern

A specially crafted brass eagle lectern was donated to the church in memory of Lieutenant General HF Hancock, who served in Mumbai as Under Secretary to the government and as inspector of Railways. Later, he got posted in Kolkata, where he was Secretary of Public Works Department. Hancock died in Calcutta in 1887 at the age of 53. The eagle acts as a symbol of St John, one of the Twelve Apostles.

Lectern with IHS inscription

Lectern (Bible stand) with IHS Monogram of the Holy Name of Jesus. IHS stands for the first three letters of 'Jesus' in the Greek language: Iota (I), Eta (H in capitalized form in Greek), and Sigma (S). In Latin, the inscription came to stand for Jesus, Savior of Humankind, derived from Iesus (Jesus) Hominum (of humankind) Salvator (Savior).

Seats used by King George V and Queen Mary

The two chairs used to sit during prayer services by King George and Queen Mary are marked with commemorative brass plaques with the date of their visit to St. Thomas Church. The royal couple had arrived in Mumbai onboard the steamship RMS Medina, and after spending a few days in Mumbai, they left by train to attend the Delhi Durbar.

Pew used by Mother Teresa

Another famous visitor to the St. Thomas Cathedral was Mother Teresa (1910-1997), who attended prayer services at the church on 8th January 1983. A commemorative plaque is now placed on the pew (a long bench, seat, or enclosed box) used by her on the occasion, now placed at the front of the congregation.

Commemorative plaque, Mother Teresa

Commemorative plaques were placed on the pew, marking the visit by Mother Teresa on 8 January 1983. A second plaque was added to Mother Teresa's canonization at the Vatican City on 4 September 2016 by Pope Francis. Henceforth, Mother Teresa was known as Saint Teresa of Calcutta.


The original pulpit at St. Thomas Church was made of stone. The current pulpit is made of green Italian marble made by sculptors in Italy. It was donated by AK Leslie and his wife, Grace Emily Leslie, in loving memory of Emily's father, Sir George Cotton. The three figures on the pulpit are allegorical representations of Faith, Hope, and Charity.


St. Thomas church has had a choir ever since the church was founded in 1718. When the church was elevated to the status of cathedral, following the creation of the Diocese of Mumbai in 1837, a choir school was founded for the purpose of training singing boys for divine services. Till the late 1970s, most choristers came from Cathedral & John Connon School.


Famously known as the "Bullion King of Mumbai," Premchand Roychand was a benefactor to St. Thomas Cathedral. His generous contributions helped complete renovations, which lasted from 1862-1867 and resulted in an enlarged apse, chancel, and organ chamber (seen here). It cost Rs 1,63,000, which was partly raised by public donations, and the rest was funded by the government.

Communion table

Till the mid-1950s, St. Thomas Cathedral had a huge British congregation headed by an English priest. With the steady departure of the British population and the emigration of Anglo-Indians from India, the congregation now comprised mostly Indian Christians. The church is headed by the Anglican Bishop of Bombay (Mumbai).

Stained glass artwork at the Apse

Glass panels at the apse of St. Thomas Church. The left panel shows the 'Risen' Jesus whose wound is inspected by 'doubting' St. Thomas. The central panel depicts Jesus on the cross, surrounded by angels. Below the crucifixion, Mother Mary holds the infant Jesus on her lap. The right panel shows the Ascension of Jesus to heaven, witnessed by the Apostles.

St. Thomas with Archangels Michael and Gabriel

The southwest corner of St. Thomas Church has triple stained glass windows showing the figures of St. Thomas (in the center) flanked by the Archangels St. Michael (right) and St. Gabriel (left). Their respective names appear at the bottom of each panel.

Stained glass work, Archangel Gabriel

The stained glass panel with a winged figure of the Archangel Gabriel carrying lilies. Gabriel is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Quran. Many Christian traditions – including Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Lutheranism, and Anglicanism — revere Gabriel as a saint.

Stained glass work, Archangel Michael

A stained glass panel with a winged figure of the Archangel Michael wearing a cross on a tiara and pendant. Michael is an archangel in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and the Baha'i faith. Michael is represented as a warrior: he is shown with a sword, in combat with or triumph over a dragon, from the story in the Book of Revelation.

Memorial, Reverend Thomas Carr

Memorial to Reverend Thomas Carr, First Bishop of Bombay, erected upon his death (at Somerset, 1859) by his wife, Catherine Emily Carr. In 1817, Thomas Carr joined the service of the East India Company as Chaplain, and in 1833, he was appointed to the Archdeacon of Bombay. He was consecrated Bishop of Bombay on 19th November 1837.

South aisle

St. Thomas Church was built long before electricity was available, and thus, it relied on natural light for illumination. The north and the south walls are divided by rows of tall windows, which allow sunlight and air circulation when the church is used for service on Sundays. Over the years, some of the windows got covered in stained glass.

Four-pronged Brackets

Over the years, St. Thomas Church has been upgraded with the change in technology and the need for improving public convenience. For example, wrought iron brackets were fitted to the pillars when electricity was introduced for the first time in 1907. Fans and lights hang from the ends of each bracket, providing comfort to the congregation assembled in the hall.

Memorials, South West corner

The interiors have hundreds of memorial plaques erected by friends and family members in memory of their loved ones. Memorials were also erected by the East India Company in honor of EIC officers and administrators who died of natural causes, perished at sea, or got killed in the line of duty in various military campaigns in the Bombay Presidency.

Memorials, North East corner

The memorials carry an epitaph eulogizing the qualities of the deceased person and mention what position or rank they held in society (or in the military), their age, place, circumstances, and date of death. Some memorials have funerary art designed in the Neoclassical style, showing portraiture, funerary urns, military symbols, or allegorical figures in mourning.

Memorial dedicated to John Watson

St. Thomas Church has many memorials dedicated to officers who served in the East India Company. This memorial, erected in 1777, is dedicated to John Watson, Commander-in-Chief of the naval force employed in the 'Reduction of Salsette.' He was mortally wounded during the Siege of Tanna (Thane) on 21st December 1774 and died six days later at Thane.

Memorial dedicated to Daniel Seton

Memorial dedicated to Daniel Seton, Lieutenant-Governor of Surat Castle, who died on 17th April 1803. In 1612, the East India Company (EIC) had set up their first factory at Surat, which was the seat of the Company’s trade. However, Surat declined in importance when the EIC took possession of Mumbai and made it their focus of commerce and governance.

Memorial dedicated to Lieutenant Colonel Charles Burton Burr

Memorial dedicated to Lieutenant Colonel Charles Burton Burr, who died in 1821. He played a significant role in the defeat of the Peshwa Army during the Battle of Kirkee on 5 November 1817, during the Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817-1819). The barefoot soldier on the right is wearing the uniform of the 1st Battalion, 7th Regiment of the Bombay Native Infantry, which Charles Burton Burr commanded.

Memorial dedicated to Henry Curwen

Memorial plaque erected in memory of Henry Curwen (1845–1892), who died on 22nd Feb 1892, on board the P&O ship SS Ravenna, three days out of Mumbai. The vessel didn't return to port, and the body was buried at sea. Henry Curwen was born at Workington Hall in Cumbria and arrived in India in 1876 to work as a journalist. In 1880, he became the editor of the Times of India.

Memorial dedicated to John Watson

Memorial dedicated to John Watson, Superintendent of the Marines and Commander-in-Chief of the naval force that attacked Salsette in 1774. He participated in the Siege of Thane and was mortally wounded on 21st December 1774 and died from his wounds six days later on 27th December, at the age of 52. In 1777, the monument was erected in his honor by the East India Company.

Memorial dedicated to the frigate Cleopatra

Memorial dedicated to the commander, officer, and sailors of the East India Company's steam frigate Cleopatra that sank in a hurricane off the Malabar coast on 15th April 1847. Constructed at Northfleet, the ship arrived at Mumbai on 19th April 1840 and operated as a transport and mail steamer between Mumbai to Karachi, Aden, and Suez. The memorial was erected by officers and seamen of the Indian Navy.

Memorial dedicated to Robert Ashmead Billamore

Memorial dedicated to Robert Ashmead Billamore, Lieutenant and Adjutant of the First Battalion of the 10th Regiment of the Bombay Native Infantry. He died at Jalna on 7 May 1818, during the Third Anglo-Maratha War, which ended Peshwa rule in the Deccan. His late father, Robert Billamore, had served as a captain in the East India Company Marine Corps.

Memorial dedicated to Lieutenant Colonel John Campbell

Memorial erected by the East India Company in memory of Lieutenant Colonel John Campbell, who bravely defended Mangalore for eight months when it was laid siege by the Kingdom of Mysore (supported by the French) during the Second Anglo-Mysore War (1780-1784). Campbell survived the siege but died from hardship at the age of 33. His memorial was made by British sculptor Charles Peart (1759–1798) in London, engraved on the pedestal (below the lion faces).

Memorial dedicated to George Warden

Among works commissioned by English sculptor John Bacon Jr. is this memorial dedicated to artillery captain George Warden, who served in the Bombay army and died on 16th October 1807 at the village of Choor-Verah at the age of 32. The mourning scene depicts Affection (left), grieving over the body of the captain placed on a bed, and Faith (right), seen holding a book and making a gesture to the departing soul of George Warden (top).

Memorial dedicated to Major General John Bellasis

Memorial dedicated to Major General John Bellasis, who was the commander of the East India Company army at Mumbai and died on 11th February 1808, aged 64 years. The memorial is also dedicated to his wife, Anne Martha, who died in Mumbai on 14 May 1797. The couple got married at St. Thomas Church on 3rd June 1776. Bellasis Road in Mumbai is named after John Bellasis, who constructed it in 1793 as a famine relief effort.

Memorial dedicated to Henry Robertson Bowers

Memorial dedicated to Henry Robertson Bowers, Lieutenant of the Royal Indian Marine, who lost his life on the ill-fated British Antarctic Expedition of 1910–1913, led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott (1868-1912). The team intended to be the first to reach the geographic South Pole but was beaten to the race by Roald Amundsen's polar party. Bowers, Scott, and other members of the party ran out of food and perished on the return journey sometime around 27 March 1912.

Memorial dedicated to Jonathan Duncan

Born in Scotland, Jonathan Duncan came to India at the age of 16. He began his career in India in 1772, and in 1784, he was one of the charter members of the Asiatic Society founded in Calcutta by William Jones. In 1791, he started the Sanskrit College in Benaras to promote the study of Hindu laws and philosophy. His lifelong interest in cultivating Brahminical knowledge is reflected at his memorial, which has a dhoti-clad bare-chested Brahmin scholar.

Memorial dedicated to Jonathan Duncan

In 1788, Jonathan Duncan was appointed superintendent and resident at Varanasi (mentioned as Benares) by Lord Cornwallis, where he abolished the practice of infanticide (mostly female newborns). Later, he served as the Governor of Bombay from 1795 till his death in 1811. As Governor, he banned infanticide in Kathiawar (mentioned as Kattywar).

Memorial dedicated to Captain Frederick McGillivray

Memorial dedicated to the memory of Captain Frederick McGillivray of the Bombay Engineers, who died on 25th March 1838, aged 37 years. At Bombay Castle, he served as an engineer at the Mint and was an early proponent for the establishment of a regular system of steam communication with Europe.

Memorial dedicated to Katherine Kirkpatrick

Memorial dedicated to Katherine Kirkpatrick, wife of Major General James Kirkpatrick, Commander of Horse, Madras Army. She was mother to James Achilles Kirkpatrick, who later served as a Company Resident at Hyderabad (Deccan) from 1798 until 1805. Another son, William Kirkpatrick, also served as a Company Resident at Hyderabad. Katherine was born at Fort St. George (Chennai) on 22nd September 1744 and died there on 27th January 1766, at age 22.

Memorial dedicated to Alexander Cumine Peat

Memorial erected to Alexander Cumine Peat, Major in the Corps of Engineers at Bombay, who died at Currachee (Karachi) on 15th April 1848, aged 46. The memorials serve as markers of the expanding territories of the Bombay Presidency, which by the late 19th century came to include parts of Sindh Province (1847–1935) and Aden, now part of Yemen (1839–1932).

Memorial dedicated to Sir Frederick Lewis Maitland

Memorial dedicated to Captain EM Ennis, who was “barbarously put to death between Sukkur and Hyderabad in Soinde, on 18th February 1843, en route to the Presidency on sick leave, aged 45 years”. A second memorial of Captain Henry Fenning, who died of Cholera at Dharwad, was added in 1854. Soinde, modern-day Sindh, was annexed by the East India Company in 1843, and a few years later, it got attached to the Bombay Presidency.

Memorial dedicated to James Fawcett Esq.

Memorial dedicated to James Fawcett Esq. and his two infant children, erected by his widow upon his death on 17th September 1831 in London, aged 31 years. His mother, Helen Hitchens, was the daughter of Major General John Bellasis, an East India Company officer and commander of the forces at Mumbai. James Fawcett had, for a period, lived with his family in Mumbai, where he was a partner in the firm Messrs. Remington & Co.