Where did the cemetery at Singapore’s Fort Canning Park go?

Does moving headstones move a graveyard? In Singapore, apparently so.

While the headstones and monuments at Singapore’s popular tourist spot, wedding, and concert venue Fort Canning Park have been moved, the graves themselves remain. But you wouldn’t know they were there and no one seems too concerned. Sprawling lawns now cover the one-time cemetery, with just a few monuments clumped together in a corner and some headstones incorporated into a wall that runs down the sloping hill.

The official line from the authorities is that most of the graveyard’s monuments and headstones were so dilapidated they were removed in the mid-1970s.

Six hundred people were laid to rest in the cemetery between 1822 and when it closed in 1865. Can’t you tell? Um… Well… No. 

Lush lawns now cover 600 graves at Fort Canning Park , Singapore.
Sprawling lush lawns and a paved pathway now cover 600 graves at Fort Canning Park, Singapore.

The headstones that have been incorporated into a beautiful brick wall reveal the diverse range of people buried at Fort Canning. A third of them were Chinese Christians and the languages on some of the remaining tombstones include German, Thai and Dutch.

Some headstones remain, bricked into a wall at Fort Canning Park, Singapore
A handful of monuments remain in one corner of the former cemetery at Fort Canning.

I can’t help but wonder what Australians would think of a lawn replacing an old cemetery. It’s been common in the past, but these days more people take interest in cemeteries and the role they play. Do you think there’s a period of time that passes before it’s OK to transform a cemetery into a recreation area? 

About the author

Author Lisa Herbert

Lisa Herbert is a death awareness advocate, a cemetery wanderer, journalist, and author of The Bottom Drawer Book: the after death action plan – an informative, modern, and quirky workbook and funeral planning guide for those who want to prepare for the inevitable. The third edition is available in Australia for $29.95.  For international buyers, The Bottom Drawer eBook is AU$12.99 on Apple Books, Kobo, Booktopia and Google Books. To purchase, click HERE.

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