St. Mary’s Cathedral

5 11 2009

The Cathedral of St. Mary the Virgin or St. Mary’s Cathedral is the cathedral of the Diocese of West Malaysia of the Anglican Church of the Province of South East Asia located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It is the Episcopal see of the Anglican Bishop of West Malaysia and the mother church of the diocese.

St. Mary's Cathedral

St. Mary's Cathedral

History

The original St. Mary’s Church was consecrated by the Right Revd George Frederick Hose, the Bishop of Singapore, Labuan & Sarawak, on February 13, 1887. The original church was built of timber on Bluff Road, on top of a hill now known as Bukit Aman, where the headquarters of the Royal Malaysian Police is now located. It served as the centre for worship and spiritual life for the small group of Anglicans around Kuala Lumpur at that period. Notable parishioners of the church in that period include the British Residents of Selangor, W.H. Treacher and F.A. Swettenham (later Resident-General of the Federated Malay States and Governor of the Straits Settlements).

Relocation

In 1893, a decision was made to erect a new building to house the growing congregation, and a new site was found beside the Padang or Parade Ground (now known as Dataran Merdeka or Independence Square) of the Selangor Club. The amount raised by the congregation for the building of the new church was supplemented by a gift of five thousand Straits dollars from the government of Selangor on a suggestion by the Governor of the Straits Settlements, Sir Cecil Clementi Smith. Notable local contributors to the building fund included personalities like Yap Kwan Seng and K. Thamboosamy Pillay, even though they were not Christians themselves.

The foundation stone was laid on February 3, 1894 by the British Resident of Selangor, Sir W.H. Treacher, in a ceremony officiated over by the Bishop G.F. Hose. On February 9, 1895, the ‘first brick church erected in the native States of Malay Peninsula’ was consecrated by the same Bishop.

The pipe organ installed in the church was built in 1895 by Henry Willis, the famous English organ maker who also made the organ for St Paul’s Cathedral in London and the original Grand Organ of the Royal Albert Hall.

When the Diocese of West Malaysia was established in 1970, St. Mary’s Church was made the see of the Bishop of West Malaysia.

St. Mary's Cathedral

St. Mary's Cathedral

Architecture

The church management committee originally held a competition for the design for the new church. Unfortunately none of the designs submitted was considered good enough, and it finally fell to the Government architect, A.C. Norman, to propose a design based on Early English Gothic architecture. This design won general approval.

The building consists of a nave 87 feet long by 28 feet wide, and a chancel 29 feet long by 22 feet wide with an octagonal end, together with a vestry and organ chamber. The nave can accommodate a congregation of 180 people and the chancel, a choir of 20.

In 1958, the back of the main sanctuary was extended to accommodate a hall called the Jubilee hall. Currently extension work is under way to add a new building to the complex.


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