I came across this interesting and distinctive building while on a walk with a friend at Mount Faber Park. I was surprised to come across a church set up by a specific country. I didn’t realise there’s such a big community of Danes in Singapore.
According to the website of the Danish Embassy, the Danish Seamen’s Church in Singapore was founded in 1984.
The history of the building though goes back to 1909 when construction began, and completed the following year. I read in a fascinating article by Daniel Seifert on Yahoo! News Singapore that it was built as a private residence and named Golden Bell Mansion by Tan Boo Liat. From the article:
He named the house after his grandfather, Tan Kim Ching, whose name translates to Golden Bell. Boo Liat was the great-grandson of Tan Tock Seng, one of Singapore’s richest men and earliest philanthropists. Much of the family’s wealth was based on Tan Tock Seng’s shrewd business dealings, which saw him owning prime areas of land on the island, including orchards, plantations and shophouses.
… Designed with some elements of colonial style, Golden Bell Mansion had four bedrooms, a billiard room, a smoking room and a dining room. Wee Moh Teck, then a well-known architect, designed the mansion. Its distinctive façade, done in the Edwardian style, is known as ‘blood-and-bandages’ for the colour of the red bricks and white plaster. The mix of styles incorporates Straits Chinese influences and even a Thai stupa, a nod to Tan Boo Liat’s strong links with Thailand — he was on close terms with the King of Thailand and in 1920 was awarded an honorary title by the royal family.
The same article also informed that there are more than 1500 members of the Danish community in Singapore.
I would have loved to have a quiet look inside but the gates were closed. Maybe next time. I really enjoy the walk at Mount Faber Park and plan to do it again.
Related, or rather just some articles I came across that made me smile while looking for info on the church:
- Today Online: Why the Danish mermaid is happier than the Singapore Merlion
- The Joy-Care Network: The Singapore Merlion is richer than the Danish Mermaid but she is happier – World Happiness Report