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St James Church

St. James’ Church is a famous historical church which is located in Delhi. It is an Anglican church that was built in the year 1836. It was built by Colonel James Skinner and this is one of the oldest Anglican churches that are currently available in India. This church presently is a part of the Delhi’s Church of North India Diocese. This church is widely famous as the church of the Viceroy of India. There is a bungalow of William Frazer, the British Commissioners of Delhi, who is also buried in the graveyard of this historical church. Skinner died at the age of 64 and he was buried here.

In 2003, a special service was held in this church in order to honor and memorialize 200 years of James Skinner's Horse. James Skinner's Horse was actually cavalry regiment that was raised by James in the year 1803. The great grand daughter-in-law of James Skinner, Margaret Skinner, was present during this special service. Along with her, retired Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sushil Kumar and Col. Douglas Gray (the one who commanded James Skinner's Horse from year 1935 to 1947) along with some former British officers present in the service.

St. James’ church is usually kept closed except on Sunday when services are practiced, but can be opened on request.

History of Church

St. James’ Church is widely famous due to its historical significance that dates back to 1830s era. As per legends, this church was built by a British Colonel, James Skinner. It is said that in a battle field, he was lying wounded and he vowed before God that if he survived, he will build a church for Jesus. Miraculously, he did survive and then he commissioned this church at his own expense which at that time cost him around 95,000 Rupees (Indian currency). The design was provided by Major Robert Smith. The construction of the St. James’ Church started in the year 1826 while ended in 1836 and hence it took 10 years to complete this historical church. The church was consecrated in 1836 on 21st November by, Daniel Wilson, the bishop of Calcutta.

After the death of Skinner, John Mitchley Jennings was the one who took over this edifice.

Architecture of Church

The basic design of St. James’ Church resembles the Renaissance Revival style. It is based on a Greek cross cruciform plan with 3 porticoes porches and an altar on the eastern arm along with a central octagonal dome and elaborate stained glass windows. The design resembles greatly to Italy’s famous church, Florence Cathedral. The design is generally the Western Classical design.

The church on its north has burial ground of Skinner and his family. The dome of St. James’ church is topped by a unique kind of copper ball and a cross which is the core attraction here. As per legends, it is said that these were used in 1857 by sepoys for target practice.

The famous copper ball along with a cross on the top that are supposed to be a precise replica of a popular historical church situated in Venice got damaged during the revolt of 1857. It is said that these were later replaced. At the rear, there is situated the Tomb of Thomas Metcalfe, the one who lived for 40 years in Delhi during which time he served as Commissioner and an Agent.

Location and Address of Church

St. James’ Church is located near the infamous Kashmiri Gate of Delhi which is also the official bus stand of Delhi. The church is situated at the intersection of Lothian Road and Church Road. The service time of the church during winters is 9 am while in summers it is 8:30 am.

There is no restriction on entry to the Church and it is open for people irrespective of their ages, caste, tribe or any other term.

Main Attractions of Church


St. James’ Church is majorly famous for its historical significance as well as its incredibly astonishing architecture which is hard to be admired in some words.

Burial Ground

The church also incorporates the burial ground of Skinner’s family. It incorporates tombs of Skinner’s 14 wives and his several children.


There are several tombs in the church. Among these tombs, one is of William Fraser, the British Commissioner of Delhi and other one is of Thomas Metcalfe who was an Agent to Governor General of India.

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