The Ascension Church at Lovedale sits at the heart of The Lawrence School campus and, till 1949, was the focal point of a lot of activities. Till 1949 the Girls’ School was separate and the church was the place where all three schools — Boys, Girls, and Prep came together.
Sir Henry Lawrence had specified that the Principal should always be a Protestant priest. Religious instruction was compulsory, though the Catholics attended their own church just outside the campus.
Till 1949, Church Parade was held every Sunday. Children had to wear their ceremonial uniform and the band led the parade. In 1949, the school was converted from a military to a public school. Old traditions continued and the actual change took several years. Even now, the school can be called a semi-military school.
When I joined in 1952, we still wore the ceremonial uniform to attend church. While there was no Church Parade, we had to form up into a squad at the Boys School and march down to church. Gradually, this was relaxed. We no longer had to wear the ceremonial uniform and we could stroll down to church. Attendance also became optional, though children were always encouraged to attend religious services of their respective faiths.
Over the years, the church has accumulated brass plaques in memory of departed souls. As with any ancient church, it has seen its share of weddings, baptisms and funerals.
One tradition remained from the old military days. Near the end of the school year, an assembly of all three schools would be held on the lawn behind the church. This was the annual train parade. Children would be assigned to the different batches — Madras, Bangalore, Kharagpur etc — and introduced to their teacher escorts who would take them home to their parents.
This article is written by J Thomas, an ex-Lawrencian who attended The Ascension Church from 1952 to 1957.
Read more about the Ascension Church here – link.