There are not that many quiet spots left in Bangkok these days. I wrote about Lumphini Park not long ago which is a great place to go to escape the noise and pollution of the city. However, it can get quite crowded with people at times. Then I heard about the Protestant Graveyard not far from Silom. As many of you know, most people in Thailand are Buddhists and they don’t bury their dead. Moat of them are cremated. The only graveyards I have seen in Thailand up to now were for Chinese people. So, I was pleasantly surprised to learn about an old graveyard in Bangkok that is still around today. The land for the graveyard was donated by King Rama IV for the many foreigners who were living in Thailand at the time. A fair number of these foreigners also had high positions in the government and acted as royal advisors.
Dr Daniel Beach Bradley was a missionary from American. He came to Thailand in the 19th Century and soon started up a practice to treat members of the royal family. He also treated an important monk who later became King Rama IV. Dr. Bradley is also famous in Thailand for starting the first printing press in 1836. The first books they printed were mainly Thai translations of the Bible. However, there were other publication including the Dictionary of Siamese Language (1873) and Treatise on Midwifery (1842). Dr. Bradley was also the editor of “The Bangkok Recorder” which was the first periodical in Bangkok. His grave is marked by a column, about halfway down on the lefthand side.
George Bradley McFarland is most famous for his Thai-English Dictionary which was first published in 1941 after 16 years of research. George was born in Thailand in 1866. His father had published his own English-Siamese dictionary in 1865 which was the first dictionary to sort the order by English. George based his comprehensive dictionary on earlier works, and then added as many new words as he could find. Nearly seventy years later, his dictionary is still regarded as essential by learners of the Thai language. Shortly after his book was published, Thailand was occupied by the Japanese and George and his family were then interned. He died shortly later in 1942. On his grave there are some Thai words which mention his rank as a royal minister and also his Thai name.
Henry Alabaster probably has the most impressive memorial in this graveyard. It is about 4 or 5 metres high and looks like the steeple of a cathedral. Henry is famous for being the civil engineer who laid out Silom Road and Charoen Krung Road amongst others. He is also noted as having helped plan the Thai postal system. He was a royal advisor and his memorial was paid for and constructed by the King.
There are probably other famous names there, though it is sad their historical importance might be lost over time. As far as I know, this graveyard hasn’t been documented in detail. I think some gravestones have been renovated as they look brand new despite talking about an event that happened nearly two hundred years ago. Other gravestones are now very hard to read. If anyone has been there and knows of any gravestone that should be noted, then please let us know. The place was deserted when I was there and there is no saying how much longer this prime piece of real estate on the banks of the Chao Phraya River will be left untouched.
You can reach the graveyard from the sky train station at Saphan Taksin. Exit the station with your back to the river. Turn right on Charoen Krung Road. It is a fair hike to the graveyard as it is just under two kilometres away. But, if you are going to pay your respects to these people, like I did, then you should walk there. The graveyard is on the right at Soi 72/5. I have already marked it for you at ThailandPhotoMap.com. I must admit that I cheated when I came back and caught a taxi to the station. This was only 35 baht as the meter didn’t go up.