Monday, October 5, 2009

St Joseph Church, Bukit Timah

The St Joseph Church in Bukit Timah has a Chinese watch tower and Chinese tiled roof structure. Its history dates back to 1846. The Catholic church built a church to provide spiritual succour to the Chinese community of farmers and coolies in the forested Bukit Timah interior of the island.
In the 19th century the Chinese community here grew gambier and pepper for their British masters for export. As the British did not extend their jurisdiction to the interior, the community was ruled by secret societies.

View of the verdant green of the Bukit Timah rainforest from the church. In the 1850s, tigers once roamed the reserves and were known to take the lives of Chinese coolies at the rate of one a day. Famous naturalist Sir Alfred Wallace, who studied the flora in Bukit Timah, wrote in The Malay Archipelago (1869) that the area was laden with tiger pit traps made of sticks and leaves. I read on the church website that Fr Augustine Perie once protested with the British to provide a proper burial to a coolie who was killed by a tiger when the British wanted to leave his body there as bait for the tiger to return and hopefully, be shot.

A view of the church from the backyard.

Do you know what fruit tree this is? It is the butterfruit tree.

And this tree is the belimbi or cucumber tree.

No doubt the handiwork of the old church warden. It's quite rare to see these trees nowadays, so they're pleasant surprises.

That's my World


  1. This place looks so serence and tranquil. I like the surrounding greenery. Luckily the Bukit Timah name is still preserved which contribute to its uniques.

  2. enjoyed reading your post and the photographs are lovely. the history of the reserve most interesting.
    have a wonderful week.

  3. While your pictures are very interesting, I also like the information that comes with it. Makes it a compulsive item to not miss, always.

  4. That's more commonly known as the belimbing assam, cousins to the starfruits. Belimbing assam is used in cooking and it is very sour!

  5. Jama, thanks for the input. You're very knowledgeable.


Great to see you ~Irene