St. Paul's Church: The Traditional Architectural Building of Karachi, Sindh

St. Paul’s Church is a Protestant church, constructed in the year of 1864 on Manora, Karachi city in Sindh province, Pakistan. It is located beside the Manora lighthouse and is managed by the Karachi Port Trust. St. Paul’s was erected as a memorial to Sir Charles James Napier, the British general who led forces to conquer the Sindh in the year of 1843. The building was recently restored in the year of 2008.

History of St. Paul’s Church

The British forces under General Charles James Napier captured Manora in the year of 1839, as part of their Sindh campaign making it their military base of operations. St. Paul’s, among other buildings, was erected as a memorial to the British General. When the church was developed it was built from limestone from the Hands’ Hill Quarries (situated 3 miles from Karachi and 5 from Kiamari) and the lower-grade but cheaper Manora conglomerate. It depicts an Early English architectural style, and contains a nave, without aisles, a vestry and a small assembly hall. The nave is 43 feet in length and 20 feet wide, with a height up to the tie beam of 20 feet. Despite the church’s simple and conventional exterior, the interior reflects a cathedral style ceiling of wooden trusses. Further references to a gothic style of architecture involve the church’s four lancet windows, as well as the three-light stained glass windows at its eastern end. The building was completed within the year and consecrated in the following one (1865). Construction charges totaled 15,000 rupees, of which 4,000 rupees were contributed by the Government.

In the early years of St. Paul’s church, the congregation was mostly made up of place residents as well as by the crews of the harbor vessels. It was designed to seat fifty persons with services conducted by one of the Government chaplains of the Karachi station every Sunday.

Throughout the church’s long history, alterations have been made to the church, involving the original exterior of the church being entirely cemented over.

Restoration of St. Paul’s Church

Restoration work in 2 phases, because of the financial restraints, was carried out on the church to preserve it as a heritage site and restore the “neglected” church to its original form. The restoration procedure took longer than expected, remaining pending for a year due to the deficiency of finances before resuming and completing the final stage of work in the year of 2008. The money for the restoration was raised privately, as no support from the government or the Karachi Port Trust was capable to be given.

 

 

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