St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Singapore

St Andrew’s Cathedral is an Anglican Cathedral in Singapore, it is the largest cathedral of the country. It is positioned near City Hall MRT Interchange in the Downtown Core, within the Central Area in Singapore’s central business district. In 1823, the site presently occupied by the Cathedral was specifically set aside for a church by Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore. The first Anglican priest appointed to Singapore was the Reverend Robert Burn who got there in 1826.  In 1834 that the foundation stone of the first Anglican Church was laid at the site of the present building. This church was completed in 1837 but enjoyed a short and unfortunate history. Twice struck by lightning it was denounced as unsafe and finally closed in 1852. The construction of the church building was by Scottish merchants. Therefore, the Church was named after St Andrew, the Patron Saint of Scotland, an Apostle and brother of St Peter. The logo of St Andrew’s Cathedral is the St Andrew’s Cross.

St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Singapore

The architect of St Andrew’s Cathedral was Colonel Ronald MacPherson of the Madras Army. A memorial cross to MacPherson still stands in the Cathedral grounds. The architecture is early English Gothic. One of the interesting features of the Cathedral is the coating of the interior walls and pillars with a composition made from shell lime. This lime had been mixed with the whites of eggs and coarse sugar or jiggery and the paste was mix with water in which husks of coconuts had been soaked into it. The walls and pillars after a period of drying were rubbed with rock crystals or rounded stones until they took on a beautiful polish. They were dusted with fine soapstone powder leaving a remarkably smooth and glossy surface. The walls and pillars were so hard that it was almost impossible to drive a nail into them. On 4 March 1856 Bishop Daniel Wilson laid the foundation stone and consecrated it in January 1862. The Cathedral was opened for services on 1 October 1861.

During the Japanese invasion of Singapore in 1942, the nave of Cathedral was switched into a casualty station to take care of the wounded because all the hospitals were overcrowded with the casualties due to the unvarying bombing and artillery fire by the Japanese invaders.

Interior – St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Singapore

The Cathedral remained open for worship during the Japanese invasion. General Percival was present at a communion service on 15 February 1942 before he surrendered to the Japanese on that day. Bishop Wilson and other European clergy worked in the Cathedral during the first year of the Japanese Occupation. However, in March 1943 Bishop Wilson was arrested and made a prisoner-of-war. Normal worship services were resumed after the Japanese surrender in 1945.

9 Nov 1834  :            First church’s foundation stone laid
18 Jun 1837 :           First service conducted
10 Sep 1838 :           Building consecrated
1843 :                           Revere Bell donated
25 Aug 1845 :         Building struck by lightning
1849 :                           Lightning struck again
1852 :                           Building declared unsafe and closed
4 Mar 1856 :             Present building’s foundation stone laid
1 Oct 1861 :                First church service in current building held
25 Jan 1862 :          Church consecrated
1870 :                          St Andrew’s Church became Cathedral of the Diocese of Labuan and Sarawak, and renamed St Andrew’s Cathedral

St. Andrews Cathedral, Singapore

6 Feb 1889 :            Gift of bells installed
20 Jun 1891 :         Cathedral struck by lightning
1952 :                          North transept opened
28 Jun 1973 :         Cathedral became a preserved national monument of Singapore
6 Jul 1973 :              Cathedral gazetted as a national monument
1983 :                           South transept added
23 Nov 2003 :       Ground-breaking ceremony conducted for the Quiet Places Project
May 2004 :             Construction of the extension began
Nov 2005 :              Extension completed.

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