Protestant Cemetery

By: Dawn SRV

Jun 15 2014

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Category: For the love of the river

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Within walking distance from Asiatique the Riverfront, there is an interesting cemetery, particularly for those who are interested in Thai history.
In the old days when Protestant Christians died in Thailand, there was no proper cemetery. This was unlike Catholic who had proper place for their funeral according to religious belief. Later Mr. Butterworth, the Viceroy of Singapore and Penang who had been acquainted with King Rama IV wrote to His Majesty to ask for royal grant of land. His Majesty bought a piece of land for the amount of 800 baht and donated the land to be used as cemetery, much appreciated by foreigners. It was then called Susan Farang (Foreigners’ Cemetery) or Protestant Cemetery.
Christians from various nationalities and races have also been buried here as well as first and second generation Thai Christians. Graves of important foreigners who helped modernize Thailand are also here. Among them is Dr. D. B. Bradley whose name is recorded in Thai history as the first publisher of Thailand’s first newspaper as well as the first doctor who performs an operation and inoculates against smallpox. Dr. George B. McFarland helped founded medical school and was active in many other activities. He was later conferred the title of Phra Art Vidhyakom and has always been remembered by many Christian communities. Dr. Thomas Heyward Hays, another American missionary who helped with medical school and became well off in other business donated funds from his wealth to Christian charities in Thailand.

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I find the place quiet and peaceful, in contrast of hustling Charoen Krung Road outside. The small chapel for religious ceremony was charming and well kept. Behind this chapel is Chao Phraya River. One can imagine that the deceased may lie here and dream of their homelands faraway.

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