Gleaming even brighter than the rest is the final building of note close to the Padang, St Andrew’s Cathedral, adjoining Coleman Street and North Bridge Road. Using Indian convict labour, the cathedral is the third church to be built on this site and was consecrated by Bishop Cotton of Calcutta on January 25, 1862. Constructed in high-vaulted, and neo-Gothic style, its exterior walls were plastered using Madras chunam – an unlikely composite of eggs, lime, sugar and shredded coconut husks which shines brightly when smoothed – while the small cross behind the pulpit was crafted from two fourteenth-century nails salvaged from the ruins of Coventry Cathedral in England, which was destroyed during World War II. During the Japanese invasion of Singapore, the cathedral became a makeshift hospital, with the vestry serving as an operating theatre and the nave as a ward. Today, closed-circuit TVs have been installed to allow the whole congregation to view proceedings at the altar – a reflection of the East Asian fascination with all things high-tech, since the cathedral’s size hardly warrants it.
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