A Sunday tour of Coleman’s Singapore
The city hall area of Singapore is the location of the original town of this city and was designed by architect George D. Coleman in the 1820’s and 30’s. Not only were the streets aligned to specific angles but significant buildings were conctructed to illuminate the thriving colony that was founded by Freemason Stamford Raffles in 1819.
Coleman himself was probably a Freemason, although he is such an obscure figure that much of his biographical information is incomplete and speculative. We do know that he became a close confidante of Raffles and was perhaps the leading city planner in Singapore’s early days.
St Andrews Cathederal
A beautiful English church, St Andrews sits in the center of the city hall area. To some it may represent the spiritual home of old Singapore as its’ construction dates to the days of Raffles. The bright white structure that stands there today is a reconstruction of the original wooden structure, designed by Coleman that was built in the 1830’s.
A walk through the St Andrews grounds today is peaceful and reflective, a welcome change from the frantic shopping malls nearby. The small ampitheatre seems like a nice place to meditate…if you can stand the 95 degree heat!
Alhtough obstensibly created to cater to UK expats, St Andrews also has a peculiar connection to the US and its’ founding fathers. During the 1840’s the daughter of Paul Revere, Maria Revere Balasteir, bestowed upon the church the Revere Bell, to be rung nightly as the sun settled on this muggy port. The bell itself now resides at a nearby museum and was cast in Boston at the Revere Foundry. Paul Revere was also himself a Freemason and in fact was a member of the St Andrew’s Lodge during the American Revolution.
Located directly opposite St Andrews is the
area that houses Singapore’s government buildings, in particular the Supreme Court and Parliament. The Old Parliament Building (the oldest building in Singapore) was designed by Coleman in 1827 and is now blocked from view. The new Parliament building interestingly sits at exactly 180 degrees from St Andrews and features the symbolic truncated pyramid (with the Singapore flag atop) as its roof.