Penang Insights

Protestant Cemetery

Protestant cemetery or Northam Road cemetery is a disused christian cemetery after its last person was buried there in 1892. It is a significant historical and heritage site protected by UNESCO and maintained by the Penang Heritage Trust.


This Class 1 Heritage site is not well known to most visitors even it is a short 5 minutes stroll from the northern end of Penang Road. The cemetery lies in a grove of frangipani trees with beautifully scented white flowers. More than half of the cemetery was destroyed during WWII when the Japanese air-raided most of George Town. The cemetery wasn’t spared with only less than 500 remaining tombs.

The conservation team started work in early 2012 but was unable to identify most of the tombs as they were heavily damaged during wartime. Some engraved tombstones are salvaged and placed on a dividing southern wall separating the roman catholic cemetery.

The protestant cemetery was first consecrated by the founder of Penang, Captain Francis Light, in 1786 with the first recorded burial in 1787. It is older than some of the most famous burial grounds in the world. The cemetery contains mostly of British linked to the British East India Company – merchants, missionaries and their families and relatives. There are also Chinese, German and Armenian graves in this burial site. Most of the deceased died under the fifties, most of them young men and women in their twenties, due to the harsh tropical condition and widespread of malaria at the time.

Some well known names buried here include Captain Francis Light, James Richardson Logan, Reverend Hutchins and Thomas Leonowens, who was the husband of Anna of the famed movie, Anna and the King.

 

Written by Victor Khoo

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