St. John's Cathedral (Hong Kong)

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St. John's Cathedral
聖約翰座堂 (in Chinese)
The Cathedral Church of St. John the Evangelist
A pared-back Gothic-style yellow church tower seen from below, with a glass-surfaced skyscraper behind it.
Church tower, east elevation, 2009
Cheung Kong Center in the background.
Coordinates: 22°16′43.86″N 114°9′34.41″E / 22.2788500°N 114.1595583°E / 22.2788500; 114.1595583
Location 4 Garden Road
Central, Hong Kong
Denomination Anglican
Status Cathedral
Heritage designation
Designated 5 Jan 1996
Reference no. 60
Style Gothic Revival
Groundbreaking 1847
Completed 1849
Materials stucco, wood
Diocese Hong Kong Island
Province Hong Kong & Macao
Archbishop Fr Paul Kwong
Dean Fr Matthias Der
Director of music Mr Felix Yeung
Organist(s) Mr Peter Yue
Music group(s) Cathedral Choir
Evensong Choir
Children's Choir
Chinese Choir
St. John's Cathedral
Traditional Chinese 聖約翰座堂
Simplified Chinese 圣约翰座堂

The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Evangelist is the oldest Anglican church in the Far East. It serves as the cathedral of the Diocese of Hong Kong Island and mother church to the Province of Hong Kong and Macao. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Hong Kong.

At Garden Road, Central, the Cathedral is located at the centre of the "Powers of Hong Kong" and is therefore surrounded by the Bank of China Tower, HSBC Building (economic), Legislative Council Building (legislative), Former Central Government Offices (executive) and the Court of Final Appeal (judicial).

St John's Cathedral is one of the five cathedrals in Hong Kong. The others are SKH Holy Trinity Cathedral, SKH Cathedral of All Saints, Orthodox St Luke's Cathedral and Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.


View of the St John's Cathedral from the top

St John's Cathedral held its first Sunday service on Sunday, 11 March 1849.

On the morning of 8 December 1941, the day after their attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese attacked Hong Kong. On Christmas morning 1941 the Reverend Alaric P. Rose took the morning service in St John's with a congregation of one hundred, while shelling continued on the island.

During the Japanese Occupation of Hong Kong, the cathedral was converted into a club for the Japanese. Many of the original fittings were stripped out, including the original stained glass windows, which had been created by William Morris' firm.

On 9 September 1945, the first service after the arrival of the Royal Navy was held in the Cathedral.[1]

In 1981, Peter Kwong Kong Kit became the first Chinese Bishop of Hong Kong.

The site of St John's Cathedral is the only freehold land in Hong Kong, granted in fee simple pursuant to s.6(1) of the Church of England Trust Ordinance (Cap.1014) of 1930. All other land tenure in Hong Kong is leasehold in nature.[2]

On 5 June 2012, there was a service of thanksgiving at the Cathedral in honour of the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II.[3][4]


It is the oldest surviving Western ecclesiastical building in Hong Kong, and the oldest Anglican church in the Far East,[5]

The cathedral's architectural style is a plain, unadorned adaptation of 13th century English and Decorated Gothic, which was the popular revivalist style for churches at the time. Along the north wall is a memorial tablet to Captain William Thornton Bate RN, who died fighting in Canton. A similar tablet is found at St Anns Church in Portsea, Portsmouth, Hampshire.[6]

The bell tower of the cathedral is decorated with a large "VR" on the west face, in commemoration of the institution's founding during the reign of Queen Victoria. The north and south faces of the tower are decorated with the coats-of-arms of two former Governors of Hong Kong, Sir John Davis and Sir George Bonham.

The first pew on the south side of the interior bears the Royal Arms, as it was formerly reserved for the Governor or any member of the Royal Family visiting Hong Kong before the Handover in 1997.

It was declared a monument of Hong Kong in 1996.

War Memorial[edit]

Next to the cathedral is a large Memorial Cross, unveiled by Governor Sir Reginald Stubbs in 1921 in memory of the soldiers killed in the First World War. During the Japanese occupation the cross was reduced to a straight granite column. In 1952 it was replaced by a Celtic cross, with an inscription added to commemorate those who had died in both World Wars. The original bronze tablet with the names of the First World War dead is held inside the cathedral, in the Chapel of St Michael.

Every year ex-British Army members hold a memorial service at the Memorial Cross.

Beside the Memorial Cross is a tombstone covering the remains of Pte R.D. Maxwell, who was killed in Wan Chai three days before the ceasefire. The only grave within the cathedral precinct, it is registered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.[7]


Clerical Position Name
Archbishop of Hong Kong The Most Revd Paul Kwong
Archbishop Emeritus of Hong Kong The Most Revd Peter Kwong
Dean The Very Revd Matthias Der
Chaplain Ministries The Revd Desmond Cox Consltes Australia, New Zealand; Shek Pik Prison
The Revd Robert Martin CMP Emmanuel Church
The Revd Dwight dela Torre Filipino Congregation
The Revd Mark Rogers Discovery Bay Church
The Revd William Newman St Stephen's, Stanley
The Revd Canon Peter Douglas Koon Mandarin Congregation
The Revd Catherine Graham Refugee & Migrant Network
The Revd William Wu Wai Ho Chinese Ministry
Honorary Chaplain The Revd John Chynchen
The Revd Jenny Wong Nam
The Revd Hugh Phillipson Cathedral Choir

See also[edit]


A Historical Tour - St John's Cathedral (free pamphlet available in the vestibule)

External links[edit]