Skip to main content

From Chater Garden to Government House - A Walk in Hong Kong

From Chater Garden it is easy to reach Queen's Road, which is connected to Battery Path via a stone staircase. 






When you get to Battery Path you will see on the left the red-brick building of the former French mission (below), which is now the seat of the Court of Final Appeal. It was originally built in 1868 for the Russian Consul in Hong Kong. Later it was used by the American trading company Heard and Co., which subsequently went bankrupt (Wordie 2002, p. 22). In 1915 it was bought by the French Mission Etrangere which renovated it and added a chapel and a dome (Vines 2002, pp. 38-39).    

The Court of Final Appeal. Apparently this is a nice spot where to take wedding pictures

The Court of Final Appeal as seen from Chater Garden

Facade of the Court of Final Appeal opposite St John's Cathedral


Court of Final Appeal with the grave of Roy Maxwell's, a Eurasian serving in the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps who was killed in Wan Chai by the Japanese during their 1941 invasion (Wordie 2002, p. 24)

Opposite the Court of Final Appeal is St John's Cathedral, completed in 1850. It was built in an area that was frequented mostly by the expatriate community, close to Government House, the Peak Tram and several administrative buildings (Vines 2002, pp. 40-41). The Europeans tended to settle in the hill areas of Hong Kong, where they could to escape the heat and humidity of the city... and the native population. Since 1849 St John's Cathedral has been the seat of the Anglican Diocese of Hong Kong (ibid.).

St John's Cathedral. Again, the trees make it impossible to take a decent picture of it...



St John's Cathedal Bookstore, right next to the cathedral itself



Descending Queen's Road you will reach Garden Road which leads to the Peak Tram and the American Consulate. 

The Peak Tram


Garden Road is connected through a staircase to Upper Albert Road, from where one can easily reach Government House, the former residence of the British governors and, after the handover to China in 1997, home to the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR. 

In the first years of the British colony, the governors appointed by London didn't have a proper residence, but lived in rented houses (Lung 1999, p. 38). Government House was built in 1851 and enjoyed a commanding view of the harbour, which was later blocked by the huge building erected all around it. 

By the 1930s the building had been damaged by typhoons and was infested with beetles and borers. When the Japanese occupied Hong Kong in 1941, they demolished it and rebuilt it in their own way, that is, in a Western-style architecture with Japanese elements, the most remarkable of which is a Japanese-style tower. When the British resumed the administration of Hong Kong in 1945, they removed the tatamis and other Japanese furniture and decorations from the interior, but left the exterior unchanged so that, ironically, the centre and symbol of the British colonial government in Hong Kong was actually a remainder of the short-lived Japanese rule (Wordie 2002, p. 65 / Bailey 2009, p. 29). 

Unfortunately, Government House is guarded by police officers and it is not possible to go beyond the main gate.

Government House with the Japanese-style tower on the right side

Descending Upper and Lower Albert Road you will get to Bishop's House, which was built in 1851 to be the residence of Hong Kong's first bishop. The building is believed to be the oldest residence in the city (Vines 2002, pp. 44-45).

Bishop's House

Further down in Ice House Street is the Foreign Correspondent's Club (formerly Dairy Farm Building). The building was used by the Dairy Farm Ice and Cold Storage Co. Ltd. from 1892 onward. It was renovated in 1913. The complex now houses the exclusive Fringe Club and the Foreign Correspondents' Club. The Fringe Club is an arts and exhibition centre which prides itself on being a medium of free expression. In fact, artists can use the rooms of the club without having to go through a selection process. The Fringe Club was opened in 1984 and has ever since been an important hub of Hong Kong's arts' scene (note). The most prestigious event organized in the Fringe Club is the renowned Man Asian Literary Prize (Wordie 2007, p. 45).



The Foreign Correspondents' Club (FCC) is the meeting point for journalists from all around the world. The history of the FCC began in 1943 in Republican China, which was at that time in the grip of a deadly struggle against Japanese invaders. Chiang Kai-shek, the leader of the Guomindang, which was the party ruling the Republic of China, decided after a series of defeats inflicted to his troops by the Japanese to retreat to the city of Chongqing. Chongqing, now famous for its double-digit growth rates and for Bo Xilai, was back then a backward, sleepy and poor town. However, it had an advantageous strategic position. Chiang Kai-shek and his entire government personnel made Chongqing the temporary capital of the Republic of China. The retreating Guomindang forces were followed by teams of foreign correspondents. In 1943 they founded the FCC. After the end of the war, the club moved to Nanjing. Then the civil war between the Guomindang and the Communists broke out. The FCC first fled to Shanghai, and when it became clear that the Communists would win, it relocated to Hong Kong. From the British enclave foreign journalists had a free basis from where they could report on major events such as the Korean War and the Vietnam War. After moving its headquarters several times, in 1982 the FCC was granted a lease on its present location (note; Ingham 2007, pp. 44-45/ White 1980). 







Moving down Ice House Street one can see two original gas lamps from the Victorian era. If there were not a plaque informing that they are listed as public monuments, one would probably not even notice them. At the end of Ice House is Pedder Street, named after William Pedder, the Harbour Master in 1841 (Yanne / Heller 2009, p. 91). Not much is left from the old street except for an old office building known as Pedder Building, which was constructed in 1923. One of the upper floors of the Pedder Building houses the China Tea Club, which fortunately is not as exclusive as most other Hong Kong Clubs.   






Sources:

The market leader for reservations to the Budget, Independent and Youth Travel market; providing online confirmed bookings for over 25,000 properties worldwide.Check your Hostel and BBs now.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Will The Huawei Case Finally Awaken Democrats To The China Threat And The Danger Of Faux Free Trade Rhetoric?

Huawei Shenzhen office building (by Raysonho  via Wikimedia Commons) On January 28 the Department of Justice of the United States unsealed two cases against Huawei , China's largest telecommunications company, and its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou.  Huawei has been accused of trying to steal trade secrets, committing bank fraud, breaking confidentiality agreements and violating sanctions against Iran. One indictment claims that Huawei attempted to steal trade secrets from T-Mobile by promising bonuses to employees who collected confidential information. Huawei is not a company like any other. Over the years it has benefited enormously from the support of the Chinese Communist regime. The founder of Huawei, Ren Zhengfei, joined China's army during the Cultural Revolution . In 1978 he also joined the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).  In the early years Huawei's sources of capital were high-interest loans (20%-30%) from Chinese state-owned enterp

China releases anti-Uighur propaganda film "Black Hand"

Mosque in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, as photographed in 2008 (photo by jun jin luo via Wikimedia Commons) The People's Republic of China (PRC) has released a propaganda video titled "The black hand — ETIM and terrorism in Xinjiang", in an attempt to shape the narrative surrounding its crackdown on the Uighur Muslim ethnic minority. The propaganda film links the Uighur population to Islamic terrorism, thus trying to justify the indiscriminate persecution of the entire Muslim population. "For decades, the [East Turkistan Islamic Movement] which has close links with international terrorist organizations perpetrated countless terrorist attacks aiming to separate the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region from China," writes China's state-run television network CGTN. The East Turkistan Islamic Movement, or ETIM, was reportedly founded by Hasan Mahsum, an Uighur from Xinjiang's Kashgar region. He was shot dead by Pakistani troops in 2003. In 2002 the Unite

Washington Post correspondent in China Gerry Shih assaulted for walking with Caucasian European

Gerry Shih, a China-based correspondent for the Washington Post, was assaulted on a Beijing street for "walking with a Caucasian European," according to a Tweet he posted on November 29. The assailants allegedly shouted at them: "F*** your American embassy!" Sign of the times: roughed up in Beijing street tonight for walking with Caucasian European. Neither of us said we were American but their parting shot was “操你美国使馆” pic.twitter.com/ekPLNsLBnj — Gerry Shih (@gerryshih) November 29, 2019 In recent years the Chinese Communist regime has intensified its anti-foreign rhetoric as Xi Jinping has sought to consolidate the power of the Party and rid China of perceived "foreign influence". Foreigners in China have been targeted by the government and anti-foreign sentiment has been enouraged. This year arrests and deportations of foreign teachers in China have increased amid a government campaign to promote "patriotic education." An inc