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Through His own EyesDate: Monday, 14 September, 2009



Heritage Shared 2009

The church of St Martin-in-the-Fields in London's Trafalgar Square, with its long tradition of practical Christianity, holds a warm place in the hearts of many British people. Every year, the vicar's Christmas Appeal on BBC radio raises over £500,000 for disadvantaged people, and the open-door policy formulated during the First World War by its charismatic vicar, Dick Sheppard, is well upheld today by vicar Nicholas Holtam and his team.

St Martin's has just been splendidly restored, with a brand-new visitor centre in the crypt. It provided an appropriate setting for a lecture in the Heritage Shared series about a Church of England clergyman with strong Sikh connections, the Revd. C F Andrews.

Andrews is probably best known today through his portrayal by Ian Charleson in Richard Attenborough's 1982 film, Gandhi. But his role as confidant to Gandhi and Tagore has overshadowed his earlier Indian career, when he witnessed the Amritsar Massacre in 1919 and the remarkable non-violent protests which Sikhs developed in 1922 to further the Gurdwara Reform Movement. Seeing the way Sikhs responded in the face of the force used against them, Andrews wrote ‘A new heroism, learnt through suffering, has arisen in the land. A new lesson in moral warfare has been taught to the world.' Twenty years later, Gandhi was to adopt these same techniques in the movement for Indian independence.

Harbinder also reminded us that St Martin's has its own particular Sikh connection - on 26 June 1918, it hosted a memorial service for Prince Victor, eldest son of Maharajah Duleep Singh, after his death and burial earlier that month in Monte Carlo.

Review by Rowena Loverance

For a fuller account of the lecture visit www.sikhchic.com

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