Zee, Ranima and I dropped by the St. Mary’s Cathedral in Kuala Lumpur recently.
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).
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.