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Restoring the Glory of Main Convent’s Historic Chapel

by Anne Das

The Main Convent School in Ipoh, Malaysia, is renowned not only for its academic excellence but also for its historic and stunning Chapel. Designed and constructed in the 1920s by a famous architect, Arthur Benison Hubback, the Chapel is a blend of Gothic and Romanesque architecture, featuring beautiful arches and ornate woodwork.

The Replica Stained-Glass

One of its highlights here, was the 5 panel stained-glass window series that depicted intricate religious scenes, figures, symbols and most importantly, it let sunlight in. This allows for the use of light in an ethereal way.

Stained-glass windows are always in motion and surprising. In the course of the day, they are animated by changing light, their patterns wandering across the floor, inviting your thoughts to wander with them. They are, even in these modern times, essential to the fabric of ancient churches, illuminating the building and the people within, both literally and spiritually.

Mass at the Chapel this morning with no stained-glass, just sheets of plastic with no sunlight let in.

Unfortunately, the stained-glass windows at the SM Convent School Chapel, have not been replaced  and currently, they are plastic-coloured sheets that do no justice to this grand historic building.

Circled in Green – The plastic sheets currently used. Photo taken this morning.

Throughout the years, this Chapel has played a vital role in the school’s history, serving as a place of worship, prayer, and reflection for generations of students and staff. It had also been the focal point for school events and ceremonies, such as graduations and weddings.

The Chapel in its glory days – A photo from the archives of a wedding. (Note: original stained-glass panels)

The Convent Girls Alumni (COGA) is leading the fundraising effort to restore the stained-glass windows to their original state. The restoration project is estimated to cost RM140K, and so far, COGA has collected RM49k. While there is still a long way to go, its President, Ms. Agnes Wong, is calling on all members and the Ipoh Community to support and contribute to this meaningful cause.

President of COGA, Ms. Agnes Wong with her twin, Anna and the ‘revered’
Sister Maureen Chew PJK (1973–1991), my former headmistress of Main Convent School Ipoh.

Like me, the Chapel and its stained-glass windows hold a special place in the hearts of those who have attended the Convent School Ipoh. During my time, many girls even non-Christians would pray in the chapel, especially before exams. It is with hope that the Chapel will continue to serve as a place of inspiration and refection for the future generations.

COGA members and the public are encouraged to donate to the restoration fund in whatever way they can, no matter how small the amount. Every contribution helps to bring the project one step closer to completion and ensures that the Chapel remains an important part of the Convent School Ipoh for years to come.

Those interested to make donations towards this cause can do so by visiting the organization’s website or transferring directly to SM Convent Development Fund – Account Details – RHB 20806100051810.

With everyone’s support, the Chapel can be restored to its former glory and continue to be a cherished part of the Convent School Ipoh for generations to come. The stained-glass windows are not just a beautiful work of art but also serve as a visual reminder of important religious themes and beliefs, as well as a historical record of a particular time and place. By preserving them, we are preserving a piece of history and a part of the community’s identity.
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