|WAT PHUKHAO THONG BY HENRY ALABASTER
|Henry Alabaster was born on 22 May 1836 in Hastings East Sussex, England. Aged 21
Alabaster arrived in Bangkok as a deputy Consul, being one of the first British diplomats to
Siam in 1857. In 1871 he got his widely known book published "The Wheel of the Law".
Two years later in 1873, he became personal adviser to King Chulalongkorn. David
Garnier sums up a number of Alabaster's achievements: he designed and constructed the
Gardens at Saranarom Palace as a place for the public to relax and study plants and
animals; he helped to start the Survey Office in 1875, trained the first Thai surveyors and
plotted together the route for a land telegraph cable from Bangkok to Battambang; He
mapped the Gulf of Thailand and administered the first Thai lighthouse. Alabaster started the
first museum in Siam, inside the Grand Palace. He catalogued the royal library and
instructed the Siamese how to classify books; he started the Post and Telegraph Office,
trained the staff and arranged the first postal deliveries.
Alabaster was given the rank of Phraya. He died on 9 August 1884 at the early age of 48.
The King of Siam erected him a funeral memorial at the Protestant Cemetery in Bangkok,
which still can be visited today. 
 http://www.anglicanthai.org/alabaster.htm - data retrieved 3 February 2012. Henry
Alabaster by David Garnier. 
|Extract out of Alabaster's book 'The Wheel of the Law" describing his visit to Phukhao Thong in 1868 on the way to the Phra Phuttha Bat
"The first is the "Mount of Gold," the highest of the spires, which differs from most Buddhist towers in having three accessible
terraces round it. The highest terrace commands a view over most of the tree-tops. From it we count about fifty spires, so there may
be some truth in a native assertion, that Yuthia had two hundred temples. There is nothing very elegant about the spire to justify its
grand name; and its height, which I judge to be about a hundred and fifty feet, is nothing very great; but as a good illustration of
one of the forms of Buddhist spires, it is worth describing. Upon an extensive square base rises a pyramidal tower in three parts, tier
above tier, separated by wide terraces. Cornices of many forms, round and angular, encircle it in close succession. Deep flutings and
reentering angles reduce the squareness of the four corners. Two flights of steps on the north and south sides lead to the terraces.
From the highest terrace, which is about sixty feet from the ground, the tower rises for about thirty feet more in the same pyramidal
form as described for the lower part. In this portion are two niches containing images of Buddha about seven feet high. Above the
niches the still tapering tower is without cornices and quite smooth for about fifteen feet; and thence changing from a square
pyramid to a cone, it rises about forty feet to a point. The upper part of the spire is ornamented with narrow headings or rings, lying
close one over the other. "The tower is built of brick, and seems to be almost solid, excepting only a small chamber, to which access
is obtained from the highest terrace. We find nothing but bats in the chamber, which seems to have suffered from fire. Previous to
the Burmese invasion, it probably contained some idols or relics. I know of no other large spires, or Phrachedi, as they are generally
called, which have an accessible chamber, though such are found in a few of the smaller spires."
The Wheel of The Law - Henry Alabaster (1871) - Trubner & Co, London - page 270-271.
|Tricky Vandenberg - February 2012