We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Imperial to International

A History of St John’s Cathedral, Hong Kong


Publication Year: 2013

Founded in 1849, St John’s Cathedral is the oldest, neo-gothic cathedral in East Asia and China’s oldest surviving, still-operating Anglican church. In its early decades, the cathedral was the center of Hong Kong colonial life. Today, it has drawn in other Hong Kong communities, becoming a truly international church with services in several languages. This first comprehensive history of St John’s traces the cathedral’s role as a colonial parish church and as a bishop’s seat for a diocese stretching across China and beyond. It also discusses St John’s significance as a center of modern worship for a growing cosmopolitan community. This volume is the first in the new series, Sheng Kung Hui: Historical Studies in Chinese Anglicanism, copublished by Hong Kong University Press and Hong Kong Sheng

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU

Title Page, Series Page, Copyright, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF (149.8 KB)
pp. 2-7


pdf iconDownload PDF (19.7 KB)
pp. vii-viii

read more

Series Introduction

pdf iconDownload PDF (38.4 KB)
pp. ix-x

The Anglican (and Episcopal) tradition has been present in China for almost two hundred years. The purpose of the series ‘Sheng Kung Hui: Historical Studies of Anglican Christianity in China’ is to publish scholarly, well-researched and authoritative volumes on the history of the Church as a contribution to the intellectual, cultural...

List of Illustrations

pdf iconDownload PDF (40.7 KB)
pp. xi-xiv

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (42.8 KB)
pp. xv-xviii

With a history of more than 160 years, St John’s Cathedral is one of the oldest churches in Hong Kong and the oldest neo-Gothic cathedral in East Asia. During all this time, St John’s has not only been a centre of Anglican activity in the territory, but a church for all peoples, a cathedral church for Hong Kong. St John’s is deeply rooted...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (56.1 KB)
pp. 1-8

Up to this point, the Cathedral Church of St John the Evangelist has been served in print by a hardback handbook, The Story of St John’s Cathedral, published by FormAsia and briskly written by journalist Stephen Vines, and by a softback, St John’s Cathedral Hong Kong: A Short History and Guide, by Doreen King. Vines writes a concise...

read more

1. Genesis, 1841–1850

pdf iconDownload PDF (101.7 KB)
pp. 9-34

On the afternoon of Thursday, 11 March 1847, in Hong Kong Harbour, a piratical craft, with all the appearance of a mandarin boat, fired upon a Chiu Chow (Chaozhou) vessel. It was an ambush. The lead pirate was known to the Chiu Chow ship’s master as a man to whom he had sold salt. The imposter craft carried twelve-pounder...

read more

2. Imperial Parish, 1850–1873

pdf iconDownload PDF (126.4 KB)
pp. 35-70

It is surprising for such a prominent detail but why the cathedral was named after St John the Evangelist is unclear. This is a nugget of fact waiting to be dug up. It has been suggested that it was to honour Sir John Davis, the governor, who did enough to bring about the church’s existence, but he was so widely excoriated as to make this unlikely...

read more

3. Quiescence and Struggle, 1873–1906

pdf iconDownload PDF (125.2 KB)
pp. 71-106

The decades following the completion of the chancel extension were, for St John’s and its clergy, involved in defining boundaries. Mostly this was to do with the extents of authority within the church, but a boundary which defied precise description was one of the smallest of all, the extent of the cathedral compound and who...

read more

4. The Search for Substance, 1902–1927

pdf iconDownload PDF (118.9 KB)
pp. 107-138

When Frederick Franch Johnson stepped into the post as senior chaplain in 1902, he was already in office in St John’s. He was the first man to have been appointed as an assistant chaplain. Up to this point, the colonial chaplains, followed by Cobbold, had ministered alone. They had been backed up intermittently by CMS missionaries...

read more

5. The Making of a Cathedral, 1927–1941

pdf iconDownload PDF (124.0 KB)
pp. 139-172

A thinly veiled scrap was going on between the Cathedral Body and the bishop in late 1927. Flying between them were topics as varied as the management of St John’s itself to the use of ‘at home’ cards. The issues at stake represented, on one hand, the guardianship of colonial distinctions which ultimately had nowhere to go but never...

read more

6. Out of Darkness, 1941–1953

pdf iconDownload PDF (106.2 KB)
pp. 173-200

Major General Christopher Maltby, general officer commanding, had only just sat down in his pew from reading the lesson on the morning of 7 December 1941, when a messenger slipped down the nave and handed him a note. He read it, stood and left the cathedral quickly, his party following. The Japanese were not yet invading. The Sunday...

read more

7. Shedding Colonialism, 1953–1976

pdf iconDownload PDF (140.5 KB)
pp. 201-242

Frederick Temple, always known as Freddy, had the most eminent clerical heritage of all the St John’s deans and chaplains. His grandfather, Frederick, had been Archbishop of Canterbury from 1896 to 1902 and his uncle, William, was archbishop from 1942 to 1944 and regarded as one of the greatest primates England ever had. Freddy...

read more

8. Towards an International Church, 1976–1992

pdf iconDownload PDF (109.1 KB)
pp. 243-270

In the first year of Stephen Sidebotham’s deanship, Frederick Truman, who had been a choirboy at the cathedral during the First World War, revisited Hong Kong. Apart from recalling that Dean Copley-Moyle had been nicknamed ‘Chocolate oil’ by the boys in some connection with his hair lotion, and saying that soldiers had been needed to guard...

read more

9. Into the ‘Chinese Century’

pdf iconDownload PDF (68.5 KB)
pp. 271-282

The 1954 building, the Tebbut Wing, is the most recent structural addition to St John’s but far from the last word on the compound’s north-west corner. To the contrary, the council discussed the site’s future in 2011, and a strong possibility was that Dean Foster’s wish may be granted and the whole structure razed as part of an altogether...

Appendix 1. List of Chaplains, Deans and Bishops

pdf iconDownload PDF (35.2 KB)
pp. 283-284

Appendix 2. List of Stipendiary Assistant Chaplains and Chaplains

pdf iconDownload PDF (27.6 KB)
pp. 285-286


pdf iconDownload PDF (76.7 KB)
pp. 287-298


pdf iconDownload PDF (50.0 KB)
pp. 299-302


pdf iconDownload PDF (95.3 KB)
pp. 303-332


pdf iconDownload PDF (1.2 MB)
pp. 352-375

E-ISBN-13: 9789882208469
Print-ISBN-13: 9789888139873

Page Count: 368
Illustrations: 40 b/w
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1