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St George’s Church and Protestant Cemetery

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St George’s Church is the oldest purpose-built Anglican Church in Southeast Asia, although with its most recent restoration completed in 2011, it looks as fresh as it would have done when its first service was held on Christmas day, 1818.

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Curiously the Anglicans were the last of Penang’s major religious groups to build a dedicated place of worship, perhaps less surprising when you learn that the building was entirely funded by the British East India Company, who were probably more concerned by their ledgers than the good book, coupled with the fact that Penang’s founder, Francis Light himself was the son of an unmarried mother, and in all likelihood wouldn’t have found the institution all that welcoming. Prior to St George’s, Anglican services were held in the small chapel at Fort Cornwallis, with the first recorded ceremony, the marriage of Francis Light’s widow in 1799.

Modelled on St George’s in Chennai. Photo taken in or around St George’s Church and Protestant Cemetery, Penang, Malaysia by Sally Arnold.

Modelled on St George’s in Chennai. Photo: Sally Arnold

Better late than never, this beautiful gleaming white Georgian-Palladian-style church, fronted by a quartet of double doric columns and topped by a gothic spire, modelled on St George’s in Chennai (previously Madras), stands in a large green lawn, dappled by the shade of a huge, century-old mahogany tree. You would be forgiven for mistaking the elegant rotunda in front of the church as a sort of baptistery in the Italian style but it is actually a cenotaph dedicated to Francis Light. Entirely funded by public conscription, it is testimony to the influence of this high priest to the colony, its inscription moving in its heartfelt description of him as “a Father” to whom the community were “greatly ... Travelfish members only (Around 700 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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St George’s Church and Protestant Cemetery
St George’s Church: 1 Lebuh Farquhar; Protestant Cemetery: Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah
T: (0426) 12 739

Location map for St George’s Church and Protestant Cemetery

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