This is a beautiful and somewhat imposing building with its tower and castle-like windows. It sits on a knoll just above the hustle and bustle of Central business area of Hong Kong. It was built around 1848, to be used to accommodate the Head of the Anglican Church and to house an Anglo-Chinese school known as St Paul's College, a school that still survives although after WW2 the school relocated to its present site in Bonham Road next to the University of Hong Kong.
|Bishops House - from the front|
On the 19th of July 2013, I was lucky enough to see inside the building as a guest of historian and author Geoff Emerson and the Rev. Philip Wickeri, Advisor to the Archbishop on theological and historical studies. With us was Emily Mosely visiting Hong Kong who had a special interest as she is the great grand-daughter of Arthur D Stewart who lived in this building as Headmaster of St Paul's College from 1909 to 1930.
|Bishops House - the rear|
St Paul's College is one of the oldest schools in Hong Kong. The founder being Rev. Vincent John Stanton who was appointed as the first Colonial Chaplain of Hong Kong in 1843 only a few years after the 1st Opium War.
|Geoff Emerson and Emily Mosey at Bishops House|
The house was used to accommodate the school as well as the Anglican Bishop of Hong Kong. The house was being renovated at the time we visited, but you can see in the photographs below, the wide rooms and high ceilings. It was a nostalgic visit for Geoff Emerson who started teaching at St Paul's in 1964 and was given accommodation in Bishops House. The Rev. Philip Wickeri kindly showed us around this fascinating piece of Hong Kong's history.
|The Rev. Philip Wickeri and Geoff Emerson at Bishop's House|
|Reflections of Bishops House in the windows of adjacent buildings|
|Wide rooms, high ceilings and tall doors|
|Admiring the "history chair"|
|the 'history chair'|
|Interior (under renovation)|
|The lawn at the rear|
You may be wondering what the connection is with WW2 in Hong Kong and Bishops House. Well, I will start with Francis Braun a Hungarian printer who worked for Ye Old Printerie owned by the Labrum bothers who had joined the HKVDC and were incarcerated in Shamshuipo POW Camp after the British capitulation.
Francis Braun was arrested by Police on the outbreak of the Pacific War and taken to Stanley Prison to be interned as an enemy alien. Hungary had just declared war on Great Britain. Prisoners were released to make way for enemy aliens and he found himself interned with Germans, Italians and Japanese. They were bombed and shelled until the surrender on 25th of December. They were released by the Japanese on 28th December and taken to Repulse Bay Hotel for tea and biscuits and then driven up Repulse Bay Road and through Wong Nei Chung Gap to Central.
Braun joined with other release internees and found a hotel on the Wanchai waterfront called the Luk Kwok Hotel. A hotel built in the 1930s and although rebuilt still exists. The hotel's website shows the old building:
Let's hear now from Francis Braun:
"Having settled in my newest abode, I went to see some friends in the Bishop's House in Lower Albert Road, in a lovely wooded area just above the Central District. .........The Reverend Alistaire Rose, The Dean of St John's Cathedral, said that I might, if I wished, move into Bishop's House. I moved in on the fourth of January." (1)
The Rev Rose was shortly after this interned by the Japanese together with British, Dutch and American civilians. They were first held in cheap hotels and brothels on the Western end of town and then transferred to Stanley Internment Camp on or around 21st January 1942.
"There were a great many nationalities in the Bishop's House, almost all of them swept together by the storm of the war: Danes, Norwegians, Russians, Chinese, Austrians, Germans and a Hungarian. There was an old American from the Tao Fong Shan Mission, an American female pianist, and even a member of the Red Cross who was later interned because of his British nationality.
The Bishop's House was managed by a Mrs I Klein, her husband a medical doctor who died during the war, and a Dr Hart, an Austrian, connected with the Church." (1)
The British and Americans left for internment on 5th January 1942. Francis Braun writes "a few days after the exodus of our friends four Japanese officers and their batmen were billeted with us. They did not mix with us nor did they interfere with the management of the house". (1) Braun continued to live in Bishops House until 1943 when he moved to Kowloon to share an apartment with an elderly German couple.
Arthur D Stewart was Headmaster of St Paul's College from 1909 until his brother Evan Stewart took over in 1930. This framed photograph of A D Stewart is on one of the walls of Bishop's House
|A D Stewart former Headmaster of St Paul's College (1909-1930)|
|A D Stewart|
Arthur Stewart's sister Kathleen founded St Paul's Girls School. His brother Evan George Stewart was a member of the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corp and was Commanding Officer of No 3 Machine Gun Company who were in the thick of the action at Jardines Lookout.
Evan Stewart and Arthur Dudley Stewart married sisters the daughters of Gerard Heath Lander (1861-1934) who was Anglican Bishop of Hong Kong and South China from 1907 until 1920 and Headmaster of St Paul's College. He, therefore, would have resided at Bishops House. Arthur D Stewart (1877-1953) married Katherine Lander (1895-1973) and Evan Stewart (1892 -1958) married Dorothy Sarah Lander (1896-1990)
|A plaque in St Paul's Church commemorating the tragic murder of Robert & Louisa Stewart|