St. John's Cathedral (Hong Kong)

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St. John's Cathedral
聖約翰座堂 (Chinese)
The Cathedral Church of St. John the Evangelist
An ornate 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 Central, Hong Kong
Denomination Anglican
Website St. John's Cathedral
Status Cathedral
Heritage designation
Designated 5 Jan 1996
Reference no. 60
Groundbreaking 1847
Completed 1849
Materials stucco, wood
St. John's Cathedral
Traditional Chinese 聖約翰座堂
Simplified Chinese 圣约翰座堂

St. John's Cathedral (Chinese: 聖約翰座堂), officially The Cathedral Church of St. John the Evangelist and located at 4 Garden Road, Central, is an Anglican cathedral in Hong Kong. It is the Diocesan cathedral of the Diocese of Hong Kong Island and the focus of the Province of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (Chinese: 香港聖公會 or SKH; also known as Hong Kong Anglican Church). It also houses the seat of the Archbishop of Hong Kong.

The Anglican cathedral is one of the five cathedrals in the city. Two others are also Anglican, SKH Eastern Kowloon diocesan cathedral of Holy Trinity, Kowloon City, and SKH Western Kowloon diocesan cathedral of All Saints. One is Eastern Orthodox, the cathedral on Arbuthnot Road of the ecumenical patriarchate of the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, and the last is the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

St. John's Cathedral is the oldest surviving Western ecclesiastical building in Hong Kong, and the oldest Anglican church in the Far East,[1] with its first Sunday service on Sunday, 11 March 1849. It was declared a monument of Hong Kong in 1996. The Cathedral is located at the centre of 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).


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, whilst 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's firm.

On 9 September 1945, the first service after the arrival of the Royal Navy was held in the Cathedral. [2]

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). 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]


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.[5]

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 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.

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.[6]


Clergy 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 The Revd Desmond Cox
The Revd John Chynchen
The Revd Robert Martin CMP
The Revd Dwight dela Torre
The Revd Mark Rogers
The Revd William Newman
The Revd Jenny Wong Nam
The Revd Canon Peter Douglas Koon
The Revd Hugh Phillipson
The Revd Catherine Graham
The Revd Wu Wai Ho

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hong Kong Tourism Board will organise some training programs preparing the Tour Guides
  2. ^ Goo, S.H.; Alice Lee (2003). Land Law in Hong Kong (2nd Edn). Hong Kong: Lexis Nexis. p. 3. ISBN 978-967-962-535-6. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ [1] CWGC Casualty Record.

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

External links[edit]