Our Heritage
Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church

The story of Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church began with the life of one man - Rev Benjamin Peach Keasberry (1811 - 1875). As a missionary from the London Missionary Society (LMS), he heard God’s calling for him to preach the Gospel to the Malays and Chinese population in Singapore while many missionaries were heading to serve in China.


(Rev Benjamin Keasberry)
 

With support from the local residents, Rev Keasberry built the Malay Chapel in 1843 on the site in what was then known as Kampong Bencoolen, and now known as Prinsep Street. It was named as the Malay Chapel to reflect the ministry among the Malay community in the areas of education, missions and the translation and publishing of English religious texts into Malay. The church was also popularly known as Greja Keasberry or “Keasberry’s Church”. When the LMS closed its Malaya mission in 1847 for China, Keasberry stayed behind as an independent missionary to continue his work with the Malays. He did so until his sudden death on 6 September 1875, whilst preaching at the pulpit.


(The Malay Chapel)

 

Up till 1885, the Malay Chapel was still the legal property of the LMS. Under the leadership of Rev J.A.B. Cook, the English Presbyterian Mission purchased the Malay Chapel from the LMS. Thereafter, the Malay Chapel became the Straits Chinese Church in recognition of its growing ministry to the Straits Chinese population.


(Rev J.A.B. Cook)
 

The history of Prinsep also saw the birth of the Boys’ Brigade movement in Singapore. In 1930, Mr James Milner Fraser, an old Boy of the 23rd Aberdeen Company and an ex-officer of the 23rd London Company, started the Boys’ Brigade 1st Singapore Company in the Straits Chinese Church together with other pioneering members from the 1st Swatow Company.


(The Boys’ Brigade 1st Singapore Company)
 

The Straits Chinese Church underwent rebuilding in 1930. The old chapel was demolished and the foundation stone for the new building was laid by Song Ong Siang, who later became the first Straits Chinese to be knighted by the English crown.


(Sir Song Ong Siang)
 

The sanctuary was completed and dedicated on 4 February 1931. Its architecture was designed by architect C. J. Stephens of Swan and Maclaren. Its most notable features are its deep red bricks and the raised brickwork on the tower and belfry. In November 1931, the church joined the Synod of the English Presbytery and was thus renamed as Straits Chinese Presbyterian Church.


(The New Sanctuary)
 

The post-war years saw a fall in the Straits Chinese congregation and the church was thus renamed as Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church in 1956. Its non-Straits Chinese congregation increased and in the mid 1980s, a new four-storey block was added to accommodate the needs of a growing congregation. As the founding place of the Boys’ Brigade movement in Singapore, Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church was gazetted as a national monument on 12 January 2000 by the Preservation of Monuments Board.


(Current church building)
 

Prinsep’s illustrious history since 1843 is a testimony of God’s faithfulness as well as the sacrificial service of countless missionaries, pastors and congregation members. As we look back to give thanks for God’s blessings for these 164 years, it is our prayer that He will continue to strengthen us to build His kingdom in the years ahead - To God be the Glory!

Explore The Timeline
1843-1950  |   1951-1997

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