Fort Canning Cemetery
Following the closure of Forbidden Hill Cemetery, Fort Canning Cemetery was established in 1823. Located on the slope of Bukit Larangan, the cemetery’s earliest graves were situated on the side of the cemetery that faced the sea.
The original portion of the cemetery, as found in the register of Lands Held on Grants issued by Sir Stamford Raffles and J. Crawfurd, was listed as “Lot 576. Burial Ground” and as being 2 acres (8,100 m2) in area. When this small cemetery became full, application for a new burial ground was made in May 1827 by Reverend Robert Burn, the resident chaplain. This request was rejected.
On 6 October 1834, the cemetery was consecrated by Bishop Daniel Wilson, the fifth Bishop of Calcutta. Although the area facing the sea was usually reserved for Protestant burials and the ground on the inland side reserved for Catholic burials, the restricted size of the cemetery made it such that no formal segregation was carried out until 1845. In 1845, the cemetery was extended to contain the grounds to the east of the central path, and in 1846, a brick wall was constructed to enclose the entire cemetery. Two arches, designed by Captain Charles Edward Faber, superintending engineer of the settlement, were also built–one was on the southern, seaward side, and one was on the landside. By the end of 1863, the cemetery had become full, and in 1865, Fort Canning Cemetery was closed.
Although attempts were made in 1886 by Sir Frederick Dickson, the colonial secretary, to repair and preserve the remaining memorials, the condition of the cemetery continued to gradually deteriorate. Although more than 600 burials took place at Fort Canning Cemetery - with a third of this number consisting of Chinese Christians, only 400 legible stones remained when the cemetery was surveyed in 1912.
By 1954, the greater part of the cemetery’s gravestones and memorials had been removed, although some of the inscription plaques had been saved and placed within the north and south walls. Over the next 23 years, the cemetery was gradually cleared.
By late 1977, only three original monuments still stood in their original locations. In the clearing of the graves, the authorities did, however, save a number of plaques which were then bricked into the west wall of the cemetery.
Billion Graves: Paula Tereira