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St. Olav’s Church (Serampore) – History, Architecture

St. Olav is a  protestant church built in 1806 in a small Danish colony known as Fredriksnagore, now called Serampore.

This landmark is of great cultural significance and a part of long Indian history. Serampore boasts and displays this beautifully constructed church, once operated by Ole Bie, the Danish administrative head.

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Both the church and the town had rich Danish styles of art, architecture, and influence, which are still seen today all over the place.

In this article, you will get to know the following points about St. Olav’s Church,

Let’s see each of these points in detail.

History of St. Olav’s Church

The history of St. Olav’s church goes back to when the Danish started flourishing trade in India. The Danish Asiatic company attempted twice to settle in the country and got their chance the second time.

The town got its old name from the Danish king, Frederick V, in 1777. The control of Serampore was in the hands of the Danish crown, and the legacy began to flourish.

The then governor of Denmark controlled the Lutheran church of St. Olav and built it for the local protestants.

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Although being a Danish church, it never had a Danish pastor, as Danish people in the area were less compared to the others. The church was solely led by the English Baptist missionaries, as India was still under British rule.

St. Olav’s Church architecture

St. Olav’s Church

The church flashes British architecture, and the contemporary designs are solely based on British structures that were popular at the time. The open portico with twin columns consists of the royal monogram of the Danish king Christian VII.

The bell tower is just above the entrance and has a clock. “FREDERICKS VÆRCK ANNO 1804” is inscribed in one of the bells in the church, which shows its origination from a Danish factory.

While entering the church, you will see a carved stone container containing holy water that was generally used during Baptism. The church is flat from the inside, and there is a pulpit near the altar for service.

The wooden seats face the altar, and there is just a wooden cross with no image or idol of the Lord present. Six marble memorials are situated inside the church, three on each side dedicated to some of the critical personnel of that time.

Two bells are there at the steeple, a big and a small one.

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The big bell has lines engraved on it. The first line is “GOGESSEN VON CHRISTIAN BOGT IN STUTTGART,” and the second line is “BLESSED ARE THE PEOPLE WHO KNOW THE JOYFUL SOUND.” In the middle of these two lines, it is inscribed 1853.

The small bell was the church’s first bell, and the writing on it reads “FREDERICK WVAERK ANNO 1804.”

A spiral staircase is there to take you to the church’s roof and is located behind the altar.

A triangle-shaped garden is situated in front of the church with an old Danish cannon, used only for celebratory and honoring purposes.

Other places to visit near St. Olav’s Church

Serampore Rajbari (near St. Olav Church)

There are a few places to visit near the vicinity of the church.

Henry Martyn’s Pagoda, Danish cemetery, Serampore Rajbari, Mission Cemetery,  and Denmark Tavern are some of them. Some other places include the Danish Government house, Vheto, Radha Ballav temple, Jagannath Temple and Rath of Mahesh, Serampore Johannagar Baptist church, and Bose house.

You can learn about these places in the article “Top 12 Places to Visit in Serampore, Hoogly.”

These are some of the things to know about St. Olav’s Church.

The St. Olav’s Danish Church is now under the Church of North India, and this historic structure won the UNESCO Asia Pacific Award for cultural heritage conservation in 2016.

The quaint church is well preserved with the assistance of The National Museum of Denmark. 

The structure reflects an era of the Danish administration in the area and its significance in terms of rich cultural heritage.

The place is a must-see, along with all the other nearby attractions, if you are in Serampore or are planning to visit it.


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