The church of St. George the Martyr is the oldest Anglican church in Southeast Asia. Before the church was built, religious services in Penang were conducted at Fort Cornwallis and later at the courthouse in George Town, a short distance away. Plans for a church were submitted as early as 1810 but it wasn’t until the East India Company Act of 1813 gave the British East India Company authority that the church was built. It was constructed in 1818 and consecrated in 1819 costing some 60,000 Spanish dollars (also known as “pieces of eight”).
The first significant event that took place in the church after its completion was the wedding of Governor William Edward Philips to Janet Bannerman, the daughter of his predecessor, Colonel John Alexander Bannerman on June 30, 1818.
On the grounds stands a memorial to Francis Light, a British explorer and the founder of the British colony of Penang and its capital city George Town in 1786. Interestingly, he is also the father of William Light, who founded the city of Adelaide in Australia.
The church was first restored after being looted and badly damaged during the Japanese occupation of Malaysia in the Second World War. It was restored again in 2011 after being designated a National Heritage in 2007.
Know Before You Go
Visiting hours are Mon-Sat, 10am-12 noon with services conducted on Sundays when the church is open for worship. There is also a visitor centre adjacent to the church.