Matilda House, a century old bungalow that has survived two World Wars and witnessed the rise of Singapore. What mystery lies behind the infamous haunted house?
Also called Istana Menanti, or “Waiting Palace” in Malay, the fabled Matilda House had survived a century only to be tagged as an infamous haunted house.
The Cashin Resorts
Originally from Ireland, the Cashin family were one of the wealthiest Eurasian family in Singapore, owning their fortunes to opium farms which were still legal in the late 19th century. With the massive wealth, Joseph William Cashin purchased multiple land around the island, including the one where Matilda House sits in today.
Built in 1902, the 417 square-metre Matilda House was a gift by Joseph to his wife, Josephine Matilda Cashin; hence the name of the house.
Back then, the Matilda House was the most exquisite property in the area of Punggol. The six bedroom bungalow boasted raised floor and entrances at both ends, providing a much needed breeze during hot weathers.
Surrounding the Matilda House are a horse stable, a tennis court, servant quarters and a massive orchard that grew tropical fruits such as mangosteens and durians.
It is said that the Sultan of Johor would visit the Cashin family via a boat to the nearby Punggol River where the Matilda House is located not far from.
The Matilda House, along with the iconic “The Pier” at Lim Chu Kang and “Butterfly House” at Amber Road, served as weekend resort homes for the Cashin family.
However, in 1985, the government of Singapore underwent a land acquisition plan and acquired over a million square metres of land in Punggol, forcing the eviction of the Cashins family from the Matilda House.
Legends of Matilda House
Back in the days, villagers bypassing the Matilda House would often see a lady with long hair sitting atop a nearby tree, seemingly guarding the Matilda House from any uninvited guests.
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Today, while there are no recorded death or murders in the house, legend speaks of an ancestral spirit that still resides in Matilda House, stopping anyone who tries to tear it down.
The Matilda House has appeared in several post WWII films, including Tenko, a 1981 drama series by BBC and Tanamera – Lion of Singapore, a 1989 Australian drama series (see here)
A tragic tale tells the story of three construction workers who mysteriously passed away during a scheduled demolition of the haunted house; the developers abandoned the project and vow to never return to the site.
Over the years, the surrounding forest was cleared to make way for Punggol Town, making the Matilda House an iconic landmark that has withstood the test of time and modern development.
Haunted House to Clubhouse
In 2010, the land was sold to property developer Sim Lian Group. As the Matilda House was given a conservation status by the Urban Redevelopment Authority and is not to be demolished, it was converted into a clubhouse for the “A Treasure Trove” condominium.
The Matilda House was commonly known as the ‘White House’, one of three infamous colored haunted houses in Singapore. The Red House referred to a former bungalow turned-preschool in Pasir Ris while the Green House is the now-demolished Hillview Mansion.
It is said that during the renovation of the Matilda House, spiritual masters were engaged to negotiate with spirits lingering in the house. Today, the lights at the clubhouse are never switched off for ‘safety’ reasons.
With a new lease of life, the Matilda House and its (haunted) history as the oldest house in Punggol lives to tell the tale.