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Fort Canning Cemetery, Singapore

Fort Canning Cemetery, Singapore graveMy wife Tricia and I called in at Singapore on the way to our New Zealand during our visit there in February 2017.  I had remembered during an earlier visit that there was a wall around Fort Canning Park which contained memorial inscriptions which had seemed to come from tombstones of some of the earlier settlers. I determined to record these for our database. Armed with my trusty camera we spent a day in the hot and humid sun, as only mad dogs and Englishmen do, taking photos of these endeavouring to capture the images for posterity.

This cemetery is, or was, the remains of the Early Christian Cemetery, located on a two acre site in 1830 on the slopes of the hill to the South-East of Fort Canning in Singapore. It soon reached capacity and had to be closed to further burials in 1865.

Having fallen into disrepair in 1953, the Government cleared the site, saving and preserving a number of legible gravestones for posterity by locating them in the walls of the former cemetery. They then turned the former area into an attractive “Garden of Memory”, today called Fort Canning Park.. The surviving Memorial Inscriptions, amounting to about 250, have been recorded photographically in this dataset. Sadly, further degradation has rendered many of them illegible – or only legible with great difficulty. Apologies are offered for any mistakes in transcribing the inscriptions which arise as a result.

Please note that a dozen or so memorials have been included which were removed to the North-East corner of the Park. These include memorials to certain dignitaries such as Civil Servants or Foreign Diplomats, who died in the late 19th or early 20th centuries.

There are a number of Christian cemeteries on Singapore which may be visited and similarly photographed by those with time available, and planning beforehand is strongly advised.

For those who have further time, a visit to the nearby National Archives of Singapore (NAS) is also advised. The NAS contains copies of the Registers of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials many of the Churches of the major Christian churches in Singapore. However, they will not allow these to be consulted without the written permission of the recognized authority of the church concerned. This may be quite difficult and a blanket authority to copy and transcribe these records, as we would like for FIBIS, is judged to be impossible without top level diplomatic agreement of some sort.

Good Hunting! – Peter Bailey

View the images and transcriptions of Fort Canning Cemetery

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