A quandary, part 2 – an Istana in Kuala Kangsar, c.1927

Following our first quandary here, we would like some help from our kind readers (especially those from Bukit Chandan) to help us with this photo. You may enlarge the photo by clicking on it.

A group photo with Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, likely to be in conjunction with the retirement of CWC Parr, the then British Resident, c.1927 (Source: Arkib Negara Malaysia)

The photo is of Almarhum Sultan Iskandar with the Raja-Raja Bergelar (all seated at the front), the Sultan’s ADC and CWC Parr, the British Resident of Perak who was then retiring. We feel that this photo was taken in 1927 on the occasion of CWC Parr’s retirement as resident, as if you look at the photo below in front of Istana Merchu, Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, the Raja-Raja Bergelar, Mr Parr and the ADC are wearing the exact clothes they wore in the larger photo.

Almarhum Sultan Iskandar and the Raja-Raja Bergelar at C.W.C. Parr's retirement at Istana Merchu, 1927. (Source: Private collection of the family of Allahyarham Raja Datom Badri Shah bin RKS Harun Al-Rashid)

The puzzling thing is that the main photo of the Istana was labelled as ‘Istana KUNING’.

Interestingly it looks like Istana Lembah, and the reasons why we do not think it is Istana Lembah are as follows:
1. this Istana looks ‘bigger’
2. the front portion of this Istana has opened up serambi (verandahs)
3. the wings of this Istana is longer, and Istana Lembah does not
4. more importantly, if this was 1927, the construction of Istana Lembah by Tukang Sofian and his sons was not finished yet! (it was completed in 1931)

As for point [2], Istana Lembah had been renovated in the 1960s under instruction from the then PM, Almarhum Tunku Abdul Rahman, but we find it hard to believe that they would demolish the serambi. We do know that there is also a likelihood that the year 1927 may be wrong, as some records do say Parr retired in 1925. Nevertheless, it still wouldn’t make sense as Istana Lembah was completed in 1931.

There was an Istana Kuning which is now no more, hence this new quandary. So, if you can help, we look forward to read your comments. No prizes, unfortunately!

8 thoughts on “A quandary, part 2 – an Istana in Kuala Kangsar, c.1927

  1. Salam,

    Some months ago, while on a visit to Istana Lembah (now Muzium DiRaja Kuala Kangsar), YM Raja Azizulkhir bin Raja Harun Al-Rashid informed me that the Istana Lembah was not built from scratch by Tukang Sofian. The original Istana Lembah had already long existed but located along the banks of Sayong. Due to frequent floods, Almarhum Sultan Iskandar decided to (literally) move it to the present location when he was in need of a temporary palace.

    I haven’t shown this picture to Raja Azizulkhir, but I’m thinking perhaps this could be that original Istana in Sayong. It is possible that Tukang Sofian had re-assembled the building but added a few touches of his own as well changing the original design. These are just my thoughts.

    InsyaAllah, I will show this picture to Raja Azizulkhir to see if he can be of help.

    • Thanks, nde! I’ve also been informed that it’s actually Istana Merchu. Anyway, will be looking forward to hear what Tok Jed has to say. -M.

  2. Salam Dear Mahariz,

    I have shown this picture to Ayah Jed and though he can’t say in all certainty (due to the different layout of the building), he believes that’s the original Istana Lembah / Kenangan building. He said that originally, the Istana had an open verandah as in this picture but he doesn’t know when exactly the verandah was covered with walls & windows.

    And he seems pretty certain that it wasn’t the Istana Merchu because Istana Merchu was built as a brick building.



    • That has been very helpful! I think I concur with Tok Jed – just look at the Merchu photo, the windows are on brick walls! -M.

  3. assalammualaikum

    i search for istana merchu and i found this website..i am asma..my father is haji abdul wahab [known as yusof@ usop] ..his father is haji yun ..my father used to play at istana merchu when he was young [he was born on 1930 ,same age as present sultan pahang, sultan ahmad shah]..my father and sultan ahmad shah was a closed friend before..and istanan merchu is the place where they always playing when they still kids..i mention those name in the paper cutting photo above, and he knew them [almost all]..maybe my father knew the editorial father or grandfather if they are from the same childhood friend..btw, my father is just ordinary people and dont have any royal blood. if possible, maybe my father can meet his old friend..[that might be your family] i leave my email here.hope to hear from you soon nurasma85@yahoo.com

    • Waalaikumsalam, Terima kasih kerana sudi mengunjung SembangKuala. Kami harap dgn komentar Pn dlm paparan ini dpt mengeratkan kembali pertalian silaturrahim ayah puan dgn sahabat2 lama beliau. Kami juga ingin bertanya – adakah datuk kpd Pn yg bernama Hj Yun itu pernah bermain polo dgn Almarhum Sultan Iskandar? Ingin kami mengambil kesempatan ini utk mengucapkan salam Aidiladha kpd puan seisi keluarga. Wassalam, – R Mahariz, bagi pihak sidang editor

      • Ya..Hj Yun pernah bermain polo dengan Almarhum Sultan Iskandar..Ada didalam gambar yang tersiar didalam website ini..Tengku Permaisuri Che Teh [Tengku Permaisuri Perak -1st wife kepada Sultan Alang Iskandar Shah ] adalah grand auntie kepada ayah saya [younger sister kepada my father grandfather iaitu Penghulu Saad from Parit Buntar]

  4. I’ve heard stories of Istana Merchu from my father and my late grandfather. Istana merchu used to house British governor and other expats. When Istana Merchu has been vacated because British expats ran away when WW2 started , the Istana has been looted by scavengers. I think it was situated at Sekolah Merchu at Bukit Residen

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