St. Michael's Church, Sandakan

St. Michael's Church, Sandakan

Churches are a common sight around Sabah and Sarawak Borneo therefore if you ever need to visit a church, especially when you are traveling on the east coast of Sabah, you can pay a visit to the St. Michael's Church in Sandakan. This is also the oldest church in the district dating back to late 1800's when it was first founded. It is also known as the St. Michael's and All Angels Church in Sandakan. 

Situated at Elton Hill in Sandakan city, this beautiful granite church was built in 1893 and took about 30 years to complete. St. Michael’s and All Angels Church was one of Sabah’s few surviving pre-warstone building and was recognized as one of the world’s heritage since 2005. When you take a closer look, the Gothic-styled architecture makes the church look almost as if you are in an old English village. 

St. Michael's Church in Sandakan Sabah
St. Michael's Church in Sandakan 
In the Elton Hill Diary, it was noted - "This Church is the first stone building in Borneo." dated 29th September 1893. Elton Hill is also named after the Reverend WH Elton where in 1888, he opened a small school which doubled as a place for prayers, until the idea of building a permanent church took hold. 

St. Michael's Church Sandakan Photo
Inside the church
The church was originally designed by Mr. B.W. Mountfort, a New Zealander who first constructed the building with the expensive belian timber, followed by brick and finally stone. The church’s windows and doors adorned with white stones were also imported from Hong Kong due to the available low quality here and was painstakingly transported to the church by prison convicts. 

During World War II, the St. Michael's Church avoided catastrophic damage and remained as it is till today. Inside the church, you will see some amazing stained glass work which were apparently donated by Australians to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII. 

Gereja St. Michael's Sandakan Sabah
St.Micheal's Church altar 
In 2003 Lynette Ramsay Silver established a fund to install huge stained glass windows in the historic church of St Michael and All Angels, Sandakan, where many POWs spent the night before being marched to their camp and, ultimately, death. 

Dedicated in April 2005, The Windows of Remembrance are a memorial to the Australian and British prisoners who died and a thanksgiving to the people of Sabah who risked, and gave, their lives to help them. The Friendship Windows over the north and south doors, were completed in 2008. You can read about how the Sandakan Memorial Windows were crafted and made. 

Below are the various photos of the beautiful stained glass found inside the church and some other photos taken by me on my visit here. 

Stained glass at the St. Michael's Church in Sandakan
Stained glass at the St. Michael's Church in Sandakan 
  Click on the images to see full photo


The exterior of the church in Sandakan

WH Elton Sandakan


Outside the church grounds here, the manicured landscape is quite well maintained while many people use the church and the ground for their weddings. Around the church, there are common local building structures which are offices and home for the staff. 


Another thing you will notice in the church are the memorial plaques for those buried at the church. Some of them date back to 1894 too. 



Saint Michael's Church Sandakan Information
St. Michael's Church Sandakan Information
Entrance Fee

There is an entrance fee to the St. Michael's Church since the declaration as a World Heritage and Sabah Tourist spot. Fees are RM 10 for Malaysians and RM 30 for foreigners. Well, you can opt to just explore the surroundings of the church if you do not wish to pay but from the photos here, you can see what it looks like inside the church. 

Sandakan Heritage Trail Map
Sandakan Heritage Trail 
The St. Michael's Church in Sandakan is also part of the Sandakan Heritage Trail passing notable tourist spots like the Agnes Keith House, Stairs with Hundred Steps, Goddess of Mercy Chinese Temple and the Sandakan Heritage Museum, just to name a few of the spots. 

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