Weather :

Timings : St. George Museum: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM (Closed on Friday)
St. Mary's Church: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM (Monday - Saturday)
It holds the regular mass service on Sundays.

Time Required : Less than 1 hour

Entry Fee : St. George Museum 
Indians: INR 15
Foreign individuals: INR 200
Kids (up to 15 years): Free

Fort St. George, Chennai Overview

The origin of the great white structure of Fort St. George is inextricable from the history of the city of Chennai itself. Popularly called the 'White Town', the sole purpose of establishing the massive fort compound was to establish a British stronghold in the Coromandel Coast and the rest of south India. With Fort St. George as a British headquarter, it was easier to develop the many small towns and villages in Tamil Nadu. The now bustling city of Chennai grew up around this fort during this time, under the British-conferred name Madras.

The magnificent fort happens to be the first in many aspects in the entire era or British rule in India. The fort itself is the first British garrison settlement in India. It also houses the first British official residential complex, the Clive House which was the home of the Commander-in-chief and the orchestrator of British India, Lord Robert Clive. St Mary's Church inside the fortress is also the oldest Anglican Church, not only in India but among all the landmasses east of Suez.

The grand fort is now protected by the Archaeological Survey of India and the station of Tamil Nadu Government. The administrative branches and legislative assembly are housed in here today. However, the church and a museum are open for the common public to visit and understand the significance of this fort in the history of India. The building which houses the museum used to be the location for the Madras Bank since 1795. However, after independence, it is serving as a large collection house of more than 3600 artefacts dating back to the entire period of the British rule - weapons, letters, coins, silverware, ceremonial dresses, medals, some personal items of the residents of the fort and many more.

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History of Fort St. George

During the middle of the 17th century, Chennai was a busy place for trade and commerce, and the competition was stiff between the French, Dutch and British East India Companies. To bring about their monopoly over the other colonisers, British representatives Francis Day and Andrew Cogan purchased land along the part of the coast which is now the famous Marina Beach from the local rulers.

The construction of the fort was completed in 1644 and was named after the Patron Saint of England, Saint George. It later became the centre of the Madras Presidency, the oldest province of British India. In the course of time, Fort St. George has seen some severe battles, many of which were instigated by the French and some by the ruler of Mysore Empire, Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan.

Fort St. George Church

The church within the fort premises is called St. Mary's Church which is the oldest Anglican church in India. It was built a couple of decades after the fort itself, around 1678 and 1680 as per the orders of the then Agent of Madras, Streynsham Master. In the graveyard of this church, some of the oldest British tombstones of India are buried. They belong to the earliest residents of the White Town. St. Mary's Church is known for being the venue of the weddings of Robert Clive, and Governor Elihu Yale, who later went on to be the first benefactor of Yale University in the United States.

Fort St. George Museum

The building which houses the museum at present was built at least a century later than the rest of the fort area. In 1795, Madras Bank started its business in this building. The second floor hall was used for public meetings, lotteries and certain entertainment purposes of the upper class British. The museum keeps many memorabilia of the colonial period of British, French, Scottish and Indian origin. Medals, weapons, coins, uniforms, royal dresses and some original letters, including some written by Clive and Lord Cornwallis are kept. The two main attractions of the museum are the larger than life statue of Cornwallis and the first ever Indian flag that was hoisted after the declaration of independence. Public is allowed to see the preserved flag but not to take pictures. The ramparts of the museum are decorated with canons used by Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan.

How To Reach Fort St. George

Fort St. George is located only a kilometre away from the Chennai Railway Station. Being the busiest point of the city, it can be easily reached by bus, cab, auto or private/hired car.

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