31 Mar St. George’s Church
Not far off the Church of the Assumption on Farquhar Street is St. George’s Church, built in 1818 for the then-astronomical sum of 60,000 Spanish dollars. It is the oldest Anglican Church in South East Asia, as well as the largest in all of Malaysia.
Convicts from India constructed the church from the ground-up, and the finished structure was ultimately dedicated to St. George, the patron saint of England. The church’s popularity among tourist owes itself to the main building serving as a picturesque backdrop against large green compound, European-style, surrounding it. Further adding to its photogenic aspect is a dome-shaped structure, known as the Francis Light Memorial, in the middle of the grassy field, cut by a pathway heading directly towards the front of the main building.
A notable event that took place in this church was shortly after its own completion, when highly ranked British officer W.E. Phillips married Janet Bannerman, the daughter of Penang Governor Colonel John Alexander Bannerman. Both men were the highest-ranked British officers on the island. Another notable feature of the church is that it survived devastating aerial bombings from the Japanese during World War II, but was rebuilt to its original condition (the nearby St. Xavier’s Institution was not so lucky). The names of the departed who served the military in Malaysia during the war are engraved on a plaque that now resides within the Church.
For those fascinated by any building’s architectural design, there is a clear Neo Classical, Georgian, and English Palladian influence on the church structure, which also features Greek Doric columns on the church building’s front supporting a gable, and providing a nice bit of shade in the process. The Church’s notable pearl-white color is the end result of a major restoration effort in 2009 following it selection as one of Malaysia’s 50 National Treasures, cementing it as a must-visit destination for all tourists visiting George Town.