Istana Kampong Glam
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Istana Kampong Glam, building, in Suonce the seat and historic home of Malay Royalty in Singapore, it is also known as the Sultan's Palace or residence. The first Sultan Hussain Mohammed Shah ibni Sultan Mahmud Shah, never lived in this building, as he died while in Malacca in 1835. The present building, was built in 1840 by his son, Tengku Mohammed Ali, who was much later recognised as Sultan Ali Iskandah Shah. The Istana is located in Sultan Gate at Kampong Glam, in the Rochore area of the Central Region. Today, it forms part of the Kampong Glam Conservation area, and with Bendahara House will become a "Malay Heritage Centre".
In his 1822 "Town Plan", Sir Stamford Raffles allocated Kampong Glam to the Malays, Bugis and Arabs. On 14 March 1823, the actual location, east of the European town and lying between Rochore River and the sea, amounting to a total of 56 acres was allotted to the Sultan. Sultan Gate and its Istana became the seat of Malay Royalty in Singapore: beginning with Sultan Hussain Mohammed Shah who later ceded Singapore to the British East India Company on 2 August 1824. The estate was given to the Sultan as his 'personal accommodation' after he signed the treaty ceding Singapore to the Crown.
Sultan Hussain then built his residence at Kampong Glam, a large rambling attap habitation; and brought his whole family and hundreds of followers from Riau to settle here. However, the Sultan never resided in the present building as he had died on 5 September 1835, while in Malacca. His eldest son Tengku Mohammed Ali Iskander Shah, by his second wife, Tuanku Purbu, was only 10 years old then. In 1840, when Tengku Mohammed Ali came to Singapore to claim his father's estate as rightful heir, the government gave him a monthly pension and allowed the family and their heirs to continue to staying at Kampong Glam estate. Tengku Ali built Istana Kampong Glam in 1840 at Sultan Gate. Tengku Ali was only recognised as Sultan of Singapore by the British, in 1855. Sultan Mohammed Ali Iskander Shah had three wives.
Some attribute the design of the Istana to George D. Coleman as the architectural style seems reflective of his work. The building is usually painted a strong yellow, the colour of Malay royalty, paralleling the colour of Kings the world over. The Istana sits on land for exclusive use by the Singapore's Royal family and their heirs. The entrance to Istana Kampong Glam is by Sultan Gate off Beach Road.
In 1896, there was a succession dispute in the family, Sultan Ali's three wives took to court the dispute over who had the rights to the Istana Kampong Glam estate; and, an 1897 Court ruling repealed this privilege of land ownership. The Court ruled then that no one could claim to be successor, so the estate belonged to the Colony of Singapore and not to the Sultan's descendants, although they were allowed to use it. In accordance with Section 2 of the 1904 Sultan Hussain Ordinance (Cap 382), the land at Kampong Glam reverted to the State and became State property on 1 January 1905. It is administered by the Land Office in the same manner as other state land in Singapore.
On 7 July 1989, the historic district of Kampong Glam bounded by Jalan Sultan, Rochore Canal Road, Arab Street and Beach Road, was gazetted a conservation area. In 1993, the Singapore Government first announced its plans to develop the Istana Kampong Glam since it was located in the 16 ha Kampong Glam Conservation area. Residents were given ample time to make their own housing arrangements. Then on 12 March 1999, it was announced that the Istana would be converted into a "Malay Heritage Centre". A multi-million dollar plan is in the pipeline to redevelop Istana Kampong Glam, one of Singapore's most famous historical landmarks.
Tamil name: Raja Kottei meaning Rajah's Palace.
(1) Ong Hu Khau: the Mouth of the Palace.
(2) Puah Thi Koi: the street of Iron Smiths.
(3) Twa Che Kha: the foot of the Big Well (since there used to be an old well in the middle of the road at Sultan Gate).
Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore: 1819-1867 (p. 104). Singapore: Oxford University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC)
Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places (p. 267). Singapore: Times Books International.
(Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW)
Lee, E. (1991). The British as rulers governing multi racial Singapore 1867-1914 (pp. 3-5, 7, 12-13, 16-17). Singapore: Singapore University Press.
(Call no.: SING 959.57022 LEE)
Kampong Glam: Historic district (pp. 7, 14-19). (1995). Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority.
(Call no.: RSING 363.69095957 KAM)
Turnbull, C. M. (1989). A history of Singapore: 1819-1988 (pp. 37, 274, 279, 271, 275-276, 281). Singapore: Oxford University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR)
Barry, J. (2009). Istana Kampong Glam : archaeological excavations at a nineteenth century Malay Palace in Singapore. Stamford: Rheidol.
(Call no.: RSING 666.309595709034 BAR)
Old Istana may house Malay Heritage Centre. (1993, March 18). The Straits Times, p. 23.
PKMS wants 1897 ruling on Kg Glam nullified. (1991, March 31). The Sunday Times, p. 15.
Plans for Istana Kampong Glam. (1990, July 23). The Business Times, p. 1.
Plans to speed up conservation work in Kampong Glam. (1991, March 13). The Straits Times, p. 24.
Singapore sultan's treasures in heir's Jakarta home. (1994, March 3). The Straits Times, Life!, p. 14.
Sultan Hussain's estate is state land. (1990, July 25). The Business Times, p. 2.
The information in this article is valid as at 1997 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history on the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Historic Buildings
Architecture--Conservation and restoration--Singapore
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