ST GEORGE'S CHURCH, PENANG




Photo: Saint George's Church in 2008
Picture taken by Zamri Salleh (USM)


Saint George'sChurch was founded by Reverend Robert S. Hutchings, a well-known educationalist who was also the founder of Penang Free High School in 1816. The construction of the church began in the same year of its conception and work was done by Indian convict labourers.

Saint George's Church was built at the cost of 60,000 Spanish dollars. This was considered an exorbitant amount as the same price was paid to acquire Singapore a few years later. In terms of design, Saint George's Church was claimed to have similar architectural styles with Saint George's Cathedral in Chennai.




Photo:St George's Church in Penang, Malaysia
Source: htttp://www.malayarailway.com





Photo: St. George's Cathedral in Chennai, India
Picture: taken from www.wikipedia.org

Saint George's Church was designed by Captain Robert N. Smith (1787 – 1873), a British military engineer from the British East India Company in Madras, India. His career in Penang began when he was promoted as Superintending Engineer. He returned to Penang in 1817 to complete his work on the Saint George's Church. Captain Robert N. Smith was talented also in the arts of etching and oil paintings. His work consists mostly of impressive oil painted landscapes of Penang, and these are on permanent display at the Penang State Museum.




Photo: The Mahogany tree and the Francis Light's Memorial
Source: Picture taken by Zamri Salleh (USM)



Adorning the landscape, mahogany trees were planted to surround the church. The effort was made by A. B. McKean in 1885. The trees surviving today are those that survived the attack during World War II.

The following image shows the location of Saint George’s Church in George Town. Located on the corner of Lebuh Farquhar and Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, the church to today remains a significant building as it is the oldest Anglican Church in Southeast Asia.





Photo: Key Plan and Location Plan of Saint George's Church in Penang
Picture constructed by Lim Boon Fee (USM)

The church was built as a gift to Queen Elizabeth from the British East India Company in return for the trading privileges that was bestowed upon them in the East Indies. The British Empire named most of their churches after Saint George, the patron saint, in colonies worldwide as he was the most venerated saint in the Anglican Church, as well as the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Church.

The first significant event that took place in the church after its completion was the wedding of the Governor of Penang of that time; William Edward Philips to Janet Bannerman, the daughter of former British Governor of Penang, Colonel John Alexander Bannerman on the 30th of June, 1818. That was the first marriage ceremony for the Anglican Church.

Over the years, changes have been made to the church building. Originally, it was built with a flat roof. However it proved unsuitable, considering Penang’s heavy rain. This resulted in many problems, including constant repairs and expensive maintenance costs. The roof was modified to its present gable structure in 1864.




Photo: Key Plan and Location Plan of Saint George's Church in Penang
Picture constructed by Lim Boon Fee (USM)



Of the lawn, the Francis Light Memorial was built in 1886 to honour the 100th Anniversary of the founding of Penang by Captain Francis Light. The structure was built in a complimenting style of Georgian-Palladian, reflecting the style of the church building. The striking features of the memorial are the dome and vases. Underneath the dome lies a marble plaque, honouring Captain Light.

On the 8th of December, 1941, during World War II, Saint George’s Church was hit by bombs dropped by the Japanese army. A total of 6 explosives were dropped onto church compound, but only 1 was ever recorded. The building stood through the attack, but the roof and a portion of the walls collapsed. Most of the porch and columns were intact. Through the years 1941 to 1948, the church remained without a roof.

 



Photo
: The church during the Japanese Attack in 1941 (World War II)
Picture: by courtesy of St. George's Church, Penang



The damage from the bombing was serious enough that interior properties such as plaques, furniture and memorials were looted. It was reported that a total of 24 life-sized marble figures were damaged during the heavy looting. Mr. Victor Lumberg, who was then the Lay Reader, rescued the church records and various other articles. He took them to the Parsonage, which is now called the Vicarage. After the bombing, service ceased for 7 years and was temporarily transferred to the Mission House and then to the Wesley Church in Burmah Road until 1948. After the fall of the Japanese Empire, Sunday church services at the Saint George’s Church resumed. It was said that it was the only church to be attacked during the Japanese occupation.

On the 8th of December, 1941, during World War II, Saint George’s Church was hit by bombs dropped by the Japanese army. A total of 6 explosives were dropped onto church compound, but only 1 was ever recorded. The building stood through the attack, but the roof and a portion of the walls collapsed. Most of the porch and columns were intact. Through the years 1941 to 1948, the church remained without a roof

.