Saint George's Church, Singapore

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Saint George’s Church
Singapore
Saint George's Church 2A, Singapore, Sep 06.jpg
View of church's exterior from Minden Road
1°17′31.5″N 103°51′7.3″E / 1.292083°N 103.852028°E / 1.292083; 103.852028Coordinates: 1°17′31.5″N 103°51′7.3″E / 1.292083°N 103.852028°E / 1.292083; 103.852028
Location44 Minden Road
Singapore 248816
Country Singapore
DenominationAnglican
Websitewww.stgeorges.org.sg
History
StatusParish church
Architecture
Heritage designationNational Monument [1]
Designated10 November 1978
Architect(s)William H. Stanbury [2]
StyleUnadorned Romanesque
Years built1910-1913
Completed1913 [3]
Construction cost£2,000
Administration
DioceseSingapore
Clergy
Vicar(s)Rev. Ian Hadfield
Priest(s)Rev. Dr. Soh Guan Chin
Rev. Paul Tan
Designated10 November 1978

Saint George's Church (Chinese: 圣乔治教堂; pinyin: Shèng Qiáozhì Jiàotáng) is an Anglican church located on Minden Road in Singapore's Tanglin Planning Area, off Holland Road.[4]

Constructed between 1910 and 1913, the church was built for the British troops stationed in Tanglin Barracks which was once the General Headquarters of the British Far East Land Forces.

The church's community comprises members from Singapore and many other countries. They are bound by a common desire to follow Jesus Christ, and to seek God’s purpose for their lives.

Leadership[edit]

St. George's Church is owned by the Anglican Diocese of Singapore. The present vicar is Rev. Ian Hadfield. He is supported by Rev. Dr. Soh Guan Chin (Associate Priest) and Rev. Paul Tan (Auxiliary Priest).

The previous vicars of the church included Rev. Mark Roland Dickens, Rev. Canon Philip Sinden, Rev. Mervyn Moore (acting vicar), Rev. Loren Fox, Rev. Paul Corrie, Rev. John Benson, Bishop Dudley Foord (interim, vicar) and Rev. Bruce Winter.

History[edit]

Origins of the Church building – Serving the British military in Singapore

St. George's Church was constructed from materials imported from England and cost £2,000 to build.

The land was formerly used as a nutmeg plantation and it included Mount Harriet, a 103-foot high hill on which the church now stands. The land belonged to William E. Willan and was sold in 1865. However, even before the church was built, an ordained minister for the garrison was appointed in 1871.

The church's foundation stone.

The current building dates back to 1910 but there was an earlier St. George's built in 1884 near the site of the present church. Both churches were built for the British troops quartered at Tanglin Barracks which was once the General Headquarters of the British Far East Land Forces. After the British forces withdrew from Singapore in 1968, the place was used by Singapore's Ministry of Defence as its headquarters before it moved to its new premises in Bukit Gombak.

Second World War

During the Japanese Occupation of Singapore, the Japanese army used the church as an ammunition dump.[5] When the British returned to Singapore after the end of World War II, a rededication ceremony was held on 10 November 1946. On 29 June 1947, Field Marshal Montgomery, on his visit to Singapore, read the lesson at morning prayer.

From Military to Civilian Church

St. George's became a civilian church after the British troops left Singapore in 1971.[6] It was gazetted a national monument by the National Heritage Board of Singapore on 10 November 1978,[7] and now serves a multinational Christian congregation in Singapore.

The church's timber roof trusses.

Stained Glass Windows

A mystery surrounds the original stained glass windows of the church. It is believed that as the Japanese troops advanced on Singapore, the garrison chaplain had the windows removed and packed away for safekeeping. They were never seen again. As the chaplain did not survive the Japanese Occupation of Singapore, no one knows where the windows are today – whether buried somewhere on Singapore soil, gathering dust in a cellar in England or in pieces at the bottom of the sea. Because of the uncertainty over the fate of the windows, the War Damages Commission turned down the church's claim for reimbursement. In 1952, the church committee began looking into replacements for the missing windows. The design and installation of the new windows began in 1952 and were finally unveiled in 1955. The new windows commemorate the soldiers of the units that were involved in the defence of Malaya and Singapore. The design consists of a figure of Jesus Christ and the badges of the units.

Lychgate

The lychgate in front of the church is a replica of the one built in 1942 by the prisoners of war of the 18th Division interned in Changi Prison. It had been erected at the camp cemetery to mark the graves of those who had died during internment. In 1952, when the graves were moved to the Kranji War Cemetery, the gate was moved to St. George's Church. Initially, it was installed on the south side of the church; later it was moved to the north-west entrance.

After the British military withdrawal from Singapore in 1971, the lychgate was dismantled and taken to England where it was erected at the Queen's Division Depot, Bassingbourne Barracks in Royston, Hertfordshire. A replica was presented to the church in 1984 to commemorate the building of the first St. George's Church in Singapore.

Major Ivan Lyon Memorial

On the outside of the church is a memorial tablet to Major Ivan Lyon D.S.O. M.B.E., who was killed on his second commando raid on military shipping in the Singapore Harbour in October 1944. At the time of the raid, Singapore was more than 1,000 miles inside Imperial Japanese-held territory.[8]

Architecture[edit]

Designed by British architect William Henry Stanbury,[9] St. George's Church is an unadorned Romanesque building, squat and compact, with wooden truss nave and no spire or tower. It has minimal white decoration and a simple but conspicuous white cross. At the left and right panels of the stained glass windows are badges representing all the regiments and forces that fought for the British in Malaya.

Features[edit]

  • Shaped like a long barn, the architectural form of the church takes after the Christian Basilica style that developed among churches of the Romanesque period. The open side aisles and large arches within create an airiness befitting the church's tropical surroundings.
  • The building, windows and doorways are detailed in brick to achieve a sculptured, decorative effect. This use of brick shows the influence of Sir Edwin Lutyens, the architect whose most notable project was the designing and building of New Delhi. Some arches have "dentil" (Latin for "teeth") mouldings, so called because the brick design resembles a set of teeth. The building makes extensive use of moulded bricks for the egg-and-dart mouldings and various cornices throughout, and is covered by a simple hammerbeam roof.
The open arched windows of the church's east side aisle.
  • The main entrances on the north side of the church are through the side aisles. The north wall of the church is made up of arched windows with the larger central window highlighted by four circular windows on top with brick detailing. Below the eave line is a simple cross.
  • The church's liturgical east end is oriented north, unlike traditional churches where the liturgical and cardinal directions are aligned. Above the altar are stained glass windows. The altar has a timber base, and has since been modified to allow versus populum celebration of the Eucharist, instead of the traditional anglican orientation of the altar towards the reredos. The church lacks a reredos, and instead has a dossal curtain in its place. It displays the typical anglican arrangement of an altar cross flanked by a pair of candlesticks.
  • The altar rail is arched as are the ends of the pews which are of timber with round-ended wicker backs. The ends of the pews are ornamented with a Maltese Cross. These pew ends are not original, and are a more recent addition.
  • There are three types of external doors with the largest type having a trefoil arch and double-leafed patterned doors. All doors are detailed and with arches.
  • There are five type of windows, with timber louvres, all arched but of different sizes and with different decorative detailings in the brick.
  • The open arched windows of the side aisles are marked by intricately patterned pilasters in brick. The west bay of window openings has inset Greek crosses.
  • The replacement stained glass windows above the altar bear the image of Jesus Christ and the badges of different regiments. The centre light shows Jesus Christ vested as a priest for the celebration of the mass, in a red chasuble over a white alb, red being the colour associated with the martyrs. His right hand is raised as to pronounce a blessing and left hand holding the Gospel. He is surmounted by the Agnus Dei which holds a flag bearing the cross of St George. The figure of Christ is flanked by the greek letters alpha and omega, and is surrounded by the symbols of the four evangelists; an angel, winged lion, winged ox, and eagle, representing St Matthew, St Mark, St Luke and St John. At the base of the window is the text, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world". The left light shows the badges of the Royal Marines, the Gurkha Regiment, the King's African Rifles, and the Malay Police. The right light shows the Malay Regiment, the Rhodesian Regiment, the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, the Fiji Regiment, Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps, and the Arms of Singapore.
  • The vestry is on the east side and leads into the altar area in the south side.
  • The lychgate is a replica of the one that was put up in 1952. There are two benches inside the gate. The lychgate is made of timber with a tiled roof.
  • The exposed timber trusses form a pattern on the ceiling. The trusses are held together with thin steel ties.

Services[edit]

There are three regular services conducted on Sunday. All involve lay participation.

  • 8.00am: a more traditional Holy Communion service following the Anglican liturgy, with hymns from Common Praise
  • 10.00am: an informal service with a mix of modern songs and hymns, suitable for families; Holy Communion on the third Sunday of every month
  • 5.30pm: an informal service; Holy Communion on the first Sunday of every month

The Japanese Fellowship meets at the building every Sunday at 3.00pm.

Courses[edit]

A number of courses are run at St George's Church, including Alpha, Christianity Explored and Moore College theology courses.

Notable members[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "List of Singapore's National Monuments" (PDF). Urban Redevelopment Authority. 2011.
  2. ^ "TREASURES OF SINGAPORE, The Sunday Times, 29 July 2018". p. B9.
  3. ^ "Saint George's Church: A sanctuary in war and peace, The Straits Times (online), Thursday, 2 February 2017".
  4. ^ "Saint George's Church (Singapore), Google map". Google Inc. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  5. ^ "St. George's Church: A sanctuary in war and peace, The Straits Times (online), Thursday, 2 February 2017".
  6. ^ "St. George's Church (Our History)".
  7. ^ "List of Singapore's National Monuments" (PDF). Urban Redevelopment Authority. 2011.
  8. ^ Connell, Brian (1961). Return of the Tiger. New York: Doubleday & Company. p. 282.
  9. ^ "TREASURES OF SINGAPORE, The Sunday Times, 29 July 2018". p. B9.

Further reading[edit]

News articles[edit]

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