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The Happy Valley

A History and Tour of the Hong Kong Cemetery

Ken Nicolson

Publication Year: 2010

Hong Kong's oldest Western cemetery garden is located in Happy Valley. This history and tour highlights the need for urgent action to conserve the built and natural heritage resources of this important cultural landscape. The author challenges the reader to reconsider the basic approach to heritage conservation adopted in Hong Kong where a false dichotomy persists between natural and built heritage conservation initiatives. The Hong Kong Cemetery provides an excellent example of a precious cultural landscape which is deteriorating because simplistic approaches to site management have failed to understand and protect the complex interrelationship between the natural (flora and fauna habitats) and built (monuments and memorials) heritage resources. The first three chapters introduce the cemetery garden concept as it evolved in early nineteenth-century Europe, and was eventually established in Hong Kong by the British. The second half of the book provides a self-guided tour of the cemetery highlighting its resources as well as explaining the main conservation problems and possible solutions to protect the cemetery.

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU

Contents

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pp. v-

Acknowledgements

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pp. vii-

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1 Grave Concerns

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pp. 1-10

To most Hong Kong residents, ‘Happy Valley’ is synonymous with horse-racing. This is not surprising since every Wednesday evening during the racing season, tens of thousands of punters flock to the racetrack to indulge in some serious gambling. Anyone in the vicinity on race nights cannot fail to notice the glare of the floodlights or hear the roars of the crowd reverberating around...

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2 Origins of the Cemetery Garden

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pp. 11-24

The quotation at the head of this chapter describes the macabre scenes and disgraceful conditions of Paris graveyards in the late 1700s that caused a widespread public outcry. The problem was not unique to Paris. Gross overcrowding of urban churchyards throughout Europe was common due...

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3 The Rise and Fall of the Hong Kong Cemetery

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pp. 25-52

In the early nineteenth century, European cemetery gardens tended to bear a resemblance to country estate landscapes with naturalistic copses of woodland, serpentine paths and sweeping areas of lawn. From the mid-nineteenth century onwards, many cemeteries adopted a more ‘Loudonesque’ approach of simple and efficient grid layouts. However, the differences between the two styles of ...

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4 Self-guided Tour

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pp. 53-106

The tour of the Hong Kong Cemetery has been designed as two loops. The lowland loop is suitable for wheelchair access and can be comfortably done in about one hour. The extended tour includes the upland loop which has a number of staircases and steep sections of path. The extended tour, taken at an easy pace...

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5 Last Words

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pp. 107-114

The ensemble of four cemeteries in Happy Valley is a very significant historic cultural landscape. Individually, the cemeteries are important to the cultural identity of different minority religions: Muslim, Catholic, Protestant and Parsee. Collectively, they are a microcosm of Hong Kong’s cultural and religious diversity...

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Appendices

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pp. 115-128

With Hong Kong being a coastal city, it is understandable that a large number of sailors are buried in the Hong Kong Cemetery and memorials should bear seafaring symbols such as anchors or capstans (revolving drums used in raising or lowering anchors). The anchor is a symbol of hope and faithfulness. The key Biblical reference for this is Hebrews 6:19: ‘Which hope we have as an anchor...

Notes

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pp. 129-134

Index

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pp. 135-136


E-ISBN-13: 9789888052271
Print-ISBN-13: 9789888028108

Page Count: 144
Publication Year: 2010

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Subject Headings

  • Cemeteries -- China -- Hong Kong -- Guidebooks.
  • Cemeteries -- China -- Hong Kong -- History.
  • Sepulchral monuments -- Conservation and restoration -- China -- Hong Kong.
  • Happy Valley (Hong Kong, China).
  • Historic preservation -- China -- Hong Kong.
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