St. James's Church, Chilaw
St. Jame's Church, Chilaw
Date of Consecration
1897 - 10 - 31
Colombo Archdeaconry
Revd. Franklyn Mirando


This was the period when the seed of Christianity sown in Chilaw was in a state of germination and the first colonial chaplain seeing the possibilities of its growing, placed certain lay people to guide them by appointing them as catechists and leaders, some of them were:- S.M Daniel, F.N Maleappah, W. Franciscus and J.J Ondatjie, and later on this area was given in charge of his son, the Rev. Solomon Christian David, the visiting chaplain.


At this period the seed had germinated and the Christians needed a place for public worship. The temporary cadjan building was inadequate to accommodate a growing church, and they were seeking a more elaborate and solid building to be erected. The Rev. Christian David raised subscriptions from distant places raised further sums of money. The weavers of the area gave freely of what they could of their labour to the building of the church.

The timber bricks, tiles and other materials needed for the building were brought by boats along the lagoon, which runs by the church, as other modes of transport were not possible in those days. The weavers helped in the unloading and gave of their per manual labour their help to build the church.

The foundation stone was laid and the church was built by the late Mr. F.J Templar, Provincial Collector and Judge in 1931 with fund-raising efforts by its first visiting chaplain Rev. Christian David.

The Rev. Christian David saw the foundation stone being laid in 1817 and by 1831 the church was completed and opened for public worship. Services were held in this church in all three languages, the Rev, Christian David in Tamil and English, and in Sinhalese by the Rev. J.H De Saram, the Sinhalese colonial chaplain. Many of these services were held during the periodical visits of the Chaplains, and the Catechists were in charge of the area.

About 50 years later, the church building showed signs of deterioration and steps had to be taken to get it repaired. It was decided to call for estimates to demolish the building on the very same site with the material available from the existing church a smaller and stronger church.

Plans were being drawn, estimates called and the consent of the Bishop and the Diocese obtained to erect a new church on the same site. The plan prepared by Mr. Wrightson was accepted and a faculty issued by Bishop R.S Copleston on 14 May 1892 signed by the Registrar of the Diocese, Mr. Morgan.

The work of the parish was in this period directly under the care of the Rev. Philip Read, Warden of St. Thomas’ College and he was present when the new foundation stone was laid on 5 April by Mr. Edward Thomas Noyes, district Judge Chilaw in 1895 or 1896.

The church was rebuilt during the time of Rev. William John Perret Waltham and by the Rt. Rev. R.S Copleston on 30 October 1897.

The Rev. Waltham saw to the interior decoration of the church, and the marble tiles on the sanctuary floor are in his design.

During the time of Rev. Arulambalam Russel Virasinghe(1901-1915) a free school was opened in Chilaw to help the weaver community. An appeal was made to the S.P.G Headquarters, and in 1904 they received an application from Ms. Callander to build a school in the church premises, and when this was done, she undertook the work. The vicarage in the church premises was also built in his time in 1904 and the present one is the same with various additions as the need arose.

During the time of Rev. J.N. Jeyachandran, St. James church was fully renovated and the dedication was done by Rt. Rev. Kenneth Fernando, the Bishop of Colombo in 1993.

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Contact Details

Postal Address
St James Church Chilaw, Sri Lanka.
0332- 220 832

bishop of colombo rt revd dushantha rodrigo


Daily Bible Verses

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