Christ Church, Byculla, was dedicated for worship in August 1833. The records reveal that at a Meeting on 12th January, 1831 at St.Thomas’ Church, which has become the present cathedral, it was decided that a Church be built at Byculla by subscription in the form of shares. The Bishop of Calcutta who was the bishop of Diocese at the time subscribed for two shares; 33 shares were subscribed by the Public, yielding Rs 165000. The Bombay Education Society which ran the adjacent school subscribed Rs 10,000. The Government subscribed for 20 shares and granted the land and the pillars. The Foundation Stone was laid by the Right Hon’ble Earl of Clare after whom Clare Road was named (now Mirza Ghalib Road).The Church was opened for worship on August 10, 1833 but was not consecrated until December 1835. The first Chaplain of the Church was Rev. W.K. Fletcher .The Church is one of the few Churches in the city which have been opened for worship before the mid-19th century.
Christ Church, Byculla, has links with the Chapel School of St. Peter’s Mazagaon. In 1852 Rs. 3, 898 was collected by the Trustees for the Chapel School and it was soon found necessary to enlarge the Chapel so that it could hold 450 persons. The Chaplain of Byculla raised Rs.15,000 for this purpose and in 1869 St. Peter’s Mazagaon became a separate Parish. Again the Chaplain of Christ Church, Byculla, raised funds for the building of the Bandra Church as it was then known and which is known as St. Stephen’s Church today. This was completed in 1853 at a cost of Rs 8,000 and upto this year the Chaplain at Byculla was responsible for the spiritual care of churches at Bandra, Girgaum, Mazagaon and Thana. This continued upto 1871 when the Chaplain was relived of the parishes of Girgaum, Kamatipura and Parel. Thus the present boundaries of Christ church came into being.
An interesting item relating to Christ Church is the construction of carriage sheds which the Trustees decided to build for the accommodation of the church-goers. The first eight sheds were reserved for the Governor, the Chief Justice, the Bishop, Member of the council, and the commander-in-chief. Electric lights and fans were installed in the church for the first time on 5th June 1921.
The Pipe Organ
The present Pipe organ is well over a century old, the builders begin Grey & Davidson, London, which supplied the organ at a cost of £300. It was renovated by S. Rose & Co. in 1914 at a cost of Rs.2,300.
Stained Glass Windows
The stained glass window at the East end of the Church was erected in 1867 as a memorial to Spencer Compton, a Trustee of the Church, in 1941 an exquisite stained glass window from St. Paul’s Church, Matheran, dedicated to the memory of the well known Greaves family of Greaves Cotton & Co., Bombay, was given by Mr. J.B Greaves for the windows of the Lady Chapel.
All the seats in Christ Church were originally rented. However, later on, the Trustees felt that pew rents should be abolished and the seats thrown open to the public with effect from 1st January1879. One of the Trustees wrote at the time: “I would be glad to see pew rents abolished as they appear to me breathe an invidious distinction between rich and poor”
The spacious lands around the Church began to disappear in 1937 and tall apartment buildings appeared, changing the entire aspect of the Church environs. It is interesting to note that some of the new roads came up between the buildings were named after the Church and its Trustees. Spence Road was named after Sir Reginald Spence, a former benefactor of Church and School, and the road connecting the former Clare Road with Victoria Garden Road was named Christ Church Road.
The Church has stood up well to the ravages of time and the vagaries of the Bombay climate. The hollow pillars of cast iron are one of its notable features and among its many marble memorial tablets is one to a former Governor of Bombay, Sir Robert Grant, who died in 1838 and who wrote a well know Hymn ‘Oh Worship the King’ which is found in Hymn Books all over the world.
The Church belonged to the Church of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon until 1970, which was of the Anglican Communion, until Church Union in November 1970. The present congregations are mostly worshipers living in Byculla but also consist of members from far flung parts of the suburbs.