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Saint Andrew's Cathedral

By: joyceho on 15 Jun 2012
11 St Andrew's Road, Singapore 178959

(+65) 6337 6104


Visit the largest cathedral in Singapore to see its Neo-Gothic architecture at Saint Andrew's Cathedral and learn about the strange techniques used to create the external plasterwork.

The cathedral serves the Anglican Diocese of Singapore and is the mother church of her 26 parishes and more than 55 congregations. In 1942, shortly before the Japanese occupation, the cathedral also served as an emergency hospital.

Being the third church to be built on the same site after the first cathedral was demolished in 1855 and the second cathedral was deemed architecturally unsatisfactory after two lightning strikes, this third and existing cathedral was built in 1861 by Ronald MacPherson who drew inspiration from a 13th century Hampshire church by the name of Netley Abbey.

Built by Indian convict labourers in order to save on building costs, the Neo-Gothic style Anglican cathedral curiously incorporated the Indian traditional technique of external plasterwork called Madras chunam to create a smooth finish. Madras chunam uses a concoction of egg-white, shell, lime and sugar mixed well in coconut husks and water was plastered onto surface of buildings and then later polished with crystal stones.

The three stained-glass windows are also dedicated to prominent figures in colonial Singapore such as Sir Stamford Raffles, major resident John Crawford and Strait Settlement governor Major General William Butterworth.

Later gazetted as a national monument on 6 July 1973, Saint Andrew's Cathedral expresses its affiliation with the Anglican Communion in England through three symbolic objects - the Canterbury Stone presented by the Metropolitan Cathedral Church of Canterbury, Coventry Cross made from two silver-plated iron nails from the ruins of the 14th century Coventry Cathedral, Coronation Carpe, which was a portion of the flaxen carpet that was used for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Abbey.

Come visit the St Andrew's Cathedral and see the collection of objects that links the church back to the Anglican Communion in England, as well as admire the plaster work on the exterior of the cathedral that was made out of egg whites, shells, lime and sugar and has had surprising durability throughout the years.

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