Saint George's Church, Singapore
|Saint George’s Church
Front view of Saint George's Church
|Location||44 Minden Road
|Heritage designation||National Monument |
|Designated||10 November 1978|
|Vicar(s)||Revd Mark Dickens|
|Designated||10 November 1978|
St George's Church is owned by the Anglican Diocese of Singapore, and was constructed between 1910 and 1913. This Anglican church was built for the British troops in Tanglin Barracks – once the General Headquarters of the British Far East Land Forces. St. George's community comprises members from Singapore and many other countries. They are bound together by a common desire to follow Jesus Christ, and to seek God's purpose for their lives.
The present vicar (since 2013) of the church is Revd Mark Dickens. He is supported by Revd Dr Soh Guan Chin (Associate Priest).
Previous vicars include Revd Canon Philip Sinden, Revd Mervyn Moore (acting vicar), Revd Loren Fox, Revd Paul Corrie, Revd John Benson, Bishop Dudley Foord (interim, vicar) and Revd Bruce Winter.
There are three regular Sunday services. 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.
A number of courses are run at St George's Church, including Alpha, Christianity Explored and Moore College theology courses.
Origins of the Church building – Serving the British military in Singapore
St George's was constructed from materials imported from England and cost £2,000 to build. 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. Tanglin Barracks was once the General Headquarters of the British Far East Land Forces. After the British forces left in 1968, it was used by the Ministry of Defence as its headquarters before the ministry moved to new premises in Bukit Gombak.
The land had formerly been used as a nutmeg plantation and it included Mount Harriet, a 103-foot high hill on which the church now stands. The land had 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.
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Second World War
During the Japanese Occupation of Singapore, the Japanese army used the church as an ammunition dump. When the British returned in 1945 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 a Military to a Civilian Church
When British troops withdrew completely from Singapore in 1971, St George's became a civilian church.
Stained Glass Windows
A mystery surrounds the original stained glass windows of the church. It is believed that as 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 Occupation, 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 Christ and the badges of the units.
The lych-gate that lies to the left of the main church building is a replica of the original that was taken to England when the British troops withdrew from Singapore in 1971.
The lych-gate in front of the church is a replica of one built in 1942 by 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 Memorial cemetery, the gate was moved to Saint George's Church. At first installed on the south side of the church, it was later moved to the northwest entrance.
After the British military withdrawal in 1971, the lych-gate 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 Saint George's Church.
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 Singapore Harbour in October 1944. At the time the raid, Singapore was more than 1,000 miles inside Imperial Japanese-held territory.
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.
- 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 Edwin Lutyens, the architect whose most notable project was the design of New Delhi. Some arches have "dentil" (Latin for "teeth") mouldings, so called because the brick design resembles a set of teeth.
- 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 altar faces north, unlike traditional churches where the altar faces east. Above the altar are stained glass windows. The altar has a timber base. It displays a simple cross.
- 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.
- 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 Christ and the badges of different regiments. The centre light shows Jesus with right hand raised, and left hand holding the Bible. 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 lych-gate is a replica of one that was put up here in 1952. There are two benches inside the gate. The lych-gate 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.
- Dr. Tony Tan Keng Yam, the 7th President of Singapore and former Deputy Prime Minister.
- Anglican Communion
- Anglican Diocese of Singapore
- Bishop of Singapore
- Book of Common Prayer
- Christianity in Singapore
- Church of England
- Saint George: Devotions, traditions and prayers
- "List of Singapore's National Monuments" (PDF). Urban Redevelopment Authority. 2011.
- "Saint George’s Church: A sanctuary in war and peace, The Straits Times (online), Thursday, 2 February 2017".
- "Saint George's Church (Singapore), Google map". Google Inc. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
- Connell, Brian (1961). Return of the Tiger. New York: Doubleday & Company. p. 282.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Saint George's Church, Singapore.|
- Anglican Theology, Chapman, Mark. Bloomsbury T&T Clark, (5 April 2012; ISBN 978-0567008022)
- Anglicanism: A Very Short Introduction, Chapman, Mark. Oxford University Press, 1st edition (15 July 2006; ISBN 978-0192806932)
- Anglicanism, Neill, Stephen. Oxford University Press, USA, 4th edition (12 October 1978; ISBN 978-0195200331)
- Singapore's 100 Historic Places, National Heritage Board (2002), Archipelago Press, ISBN 981-4068-23-3
- Singapore - A Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, Norman Edwards, Peter Keys (1996), Times Books International, ISBN 9971-65-231-5
- The Religious Monuments of Singapore, Lee Geok Boi (2002), Landmark Books, ISBN 981-3065-62-1
- "St George's Church: A sanctuary in war and peace". The Straits Times (online). 2017-02-02. Retrieved 2017-12-01.