Imperial to International
A History of St John’s Cathedral, Hong Kong
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU
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Title Page, Series Page, Copyright, Dedication
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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
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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...
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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...
1. Genesis, 1841–1850
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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...
2. Imperial Parish, 1850–1873
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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...
3. Quiescence and Struggle, 1873–1906
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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...
4. The Search for Substance, 1902–1927
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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...
5. The Making of a Cathedral, 1927–1941
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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...
6. Out of Darkness, 1941–1953
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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...
7. Shedding Colonialism, 1953–1976
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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...
8. Towards an International Church, 1976–1992
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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...
9. Into the ‘Chinese Century’
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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
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Appendix 2. List of Stipendiary Assistant Chaplains and Chaplains
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Page Count: 368
Illustrations: 40 b/w
Publication Year: 2013