The Great Mansions

Seah Eu Chin’s Mansion at North Boat Quay

After he had acquired his wealth, Seah Eu Chin lived in a mansion built by his son Seah Cheo Seah. It was one of the “Four Great Mansions” (Si Da Chu) of 19th century Chinese in Singapore.


Located along North Boat Quay, the site where the House of Seah Eu Chin once stood is currently the field in front of the Singapore Parliament House.


This illustration shows an artist’s impression of the grand entrance gate of Seah Eu Chin’s highly ornate, ostentatious house, one of the Four Great Mansions in Singapore. The entrance gate opened up to an inner courtyard.

Seah Liang Seah’s Bendemeer House


Seah Eu Chin’s children also owned grand and famous houses of their own. In 1895, his second son Seah Liang Seah bought Whampoa House. The two-storeyed mansion consisted of frontal and rear wings which branched off from the center spine, which had a large ballroom. The ground floor in the mansion was built with stone tiles but the flooring on the upstairs was timber. There was a four storey tower at the rear of the house, which could be accessed from the second floor through a series of side rooms. The top of the tower had to be reached through an iron spiral staircase. It was a massive and stately house with few parallels during the time.

Whampoa House was originally owned by Whampoa himself; in 1840, he constructed a grand mansion with Chinese, Malay, and European influences along Serangoon Road on a 162-hectare piece of land. This villa was complete with a beautiful Chinese garden called Whampoa’s garden or Nam Sang Fa Un – replete with artificial ponds, rockeries, and shrubs clipped into beautiful ornamental shapes maintained by gardeners from Guangdong. It was a popular venue among the Europeans in Singapore, and was open to the public annually during Chinese New Year.

Note – Seah Liang Seah’s Bendemeer House, although grand and famous in its own right, is not one of the Four Great Mansions of the 19th century Chinese in Singapore. Special thanks to the many docents who have gently reminded me to include this point. 


Copyright © 2017 by Shawn Seah

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