Reverend J.P.Parry was the one who saw the erection of this Anglican Church building. It was opened in 1912 with the knave measurement, 72ft long. During the Japanese occupation, the church was regarded as enemy property and was converted into a noodle factory for some months. Under the command from John Hayter, who had been interned in Changi, the chaplaincy system in Ipoh was abolished, and a Parochial Church Council was established in 1947 with the representatives from the European, Tamil and Chinese community.
St. John the Divine was the largest church in Malaya, consecrated in 1912.
Upon entering the gate of the church, one is presented with a red brick building that looks so English in design, it feels like one has stepped out of Malaysia for a minute and comes into a “Parish Church in the English countryside” quoted by Rev. Anthony Dumper, the Vicar of South Perak, 1949.
This church was consecrated in 1912, and it was the largest church in Malaya then. The church actually began sometime in 1906 when Anglicans held their monthly services which were conducted by Rev. J.P Parry in the old wooden Courthouse nearby. As the congregation grew, funds were raised to build a church. It was in 1910 and it took two years and $20,000 for the English-style church with red tiles to complete. The church was used as a noodle factory, where pews were used for firewood during the Japanese occupation. The restoration works to the church began in April 2010 and were completed in December of the same year. The total cost spent was RM 250,000.
Before St John’s was built, the Anglicans held their services at the ‘Old Courthouse’ located nearby the Birch clock tower. In the year 1905, only four services were recorded. When St John’s Church was consecrated by Bishop Ferguson Davie on April 30, 1912, it was described as an architecture of English design but suited to the local equatorial climate. The church which consists of six bays has Gothic architectural features of pointed arches and buttresses. Its outer walls are of fair-faced brickwork, in which selected bricks were used without plaster. Above its porte-cochere or porch is a bell-tower on the apex of the front gable. The bell was presented to the Church by Mr and Mrs A.C.J. Towers in 1935 which was the Silver Jubilee year of King George V.
The history of the Church of England in Ipoh began in 1906 when the Anglican held their monthly services conducted by REV. J.B. Bourne in the old wooden courthouse. Gradually, there was an improvement in the following years. The Old Courthouse which was situated opposite the Clock Tower was renovated and set apart as a place of worship. The records show that only four services were held during the year, and Rev. J.B. Bourne was the chaplain under the North Perak Church from Taiping.
As the only chaplain, he had enormous tasks in hand visiting and celebrating Holy Communion all over the Perak. The Chaplaincy of the South Perak was inaugurated in 1909 until 1910, and two services per month were maintained in Ipoh. On Thursday, 15th of December 1910, the Bishop Charles James Ferguson Davie of the Diocese of Singapore laid the Foundation Stone of the future church at Ipoh. The estimated the numbers of people presented were about 100 and in all probability, the number would have been larger if the weather had been more favourable. The procession consisted of the Ipoh Church Building Committee headed by Mr Spinks, members of the South Perak Council acting British Resident of Perak Mr Oliver Marks, REV. F.W. Haines, Canon Barton-Parkes, The REV Henham and The Bishop of Singapore.
There were two young local boys in the gathering which were Pragasam Sankey and Harold Donald Grenier Jansz aged 12 and 4 respectively. They were later destined to be a strong pillar of the church. It was a great few years since the idea of erecting a church in this large and population centre originated. There would probably have been a church of some kind long before that if it had not been for the fact that Sir Ernest Birch, the late Resident of Perak and a few others Churchmen.