top of page

Bishop Hill​, Central & Hong Kong Central Hospital

Bishop Hill, Central established in 1848

The Reverend Vincent John Stanton was one of the first arrivals in Hong Kong and became the first colonial Chaplain. He wanted a permanent church as a place of worship for the community he believed would develop.

Stanton arrived in Hong Kong in 1843, when he was still an undergraduate at Cambridge. He set about giving substance to his reams. He persuaded the Government to grant him land and convinced business houses and churches in Britain to supply £6000 to build a new church in Hong Kong. In less than ten years from the establishment of Hong Kong, St. John's Cathedral and St. Paul's College (now known as Bishop's House) about 300 yards away from the Government House.

Past: The heated debates on the building of Stanton House (Hong Kong Central Hospital)

Inland Lot 76 was granted to the Reverend Vincent Stanton, the first colonial chaplain of Hong Kong, by Queen Victoria. Stanton used his own funds to build St. Paul's College for the training of native clergy for the ministry On the arrival of Bishop Smith, he generously donated the land and building to the bishop. The control of the college was vested entirely in the bishop of Victoria as ex-officio warden, and the indenture was signed on October 15, 1849, by Stanton and Bishop Smith. There was, however, another indenture signed on September 5, 1851, by Queen Victoria and the bishop of Victoria. In it, Her Majesty, having given full power to the governor of Hong Kong to grant leases on land, required the bishop of Victoria and his successors not to use that lot or St. Paul's College for any other purpose than the promotion of charitable causes without a license from Her Majesty or her heirs, represented by the governor of Hong Kong or other person duly authorized on his behalf."

In 1948, ROH obtained a special license from the governor, Sir Alexander Grantham, to use the lot for the following purposes: as the bishop's and the dean's residence, as premises for the Boys and Girls' Clubs Association, as a hostel termed the Church Guest House, and as a hospital. With this special license, ROH erected Stanton House, named after Vincent Stanton, in the Bishop's House compound, as well as the building that would house the Juvenile Care Centre.

Since there were already private hospitals for wealthy people and government hospitals for economically disadvantaged people, ROH used Stanton House as a private hospital to serve the middle class. The hospital was known as Central Hospital. ROH envisioned that the income generated from Central Hospital would be used partly to compensate the Church Missionary Society for the construction costs of turning St. Paul’s College into a boys’ school and partly to train Chinese students for the ministry.

ROH and the committee members needed thick skins to be unfazed by the heated debates on the building of Stanton House that aged in the press. One man who called himself the “hammer” asked why the bishop of Hong Kong should agree to the moneymaking business62. Another remarked on the great need in Hong Kong for more hospitals and nursing homes for economically disadvantaged people, adding that a small hospital that could accommodate only 80 private patients would not contribute much toward solving the problem. Because the list of promoters all had Chinese names, he questioned why the hospital was only for Chinese. The debate persisted even after the new hospital opened in 1950. Although the building of Stanton House on Inland Lot 76 aroused such a heated debate, no one raised a single question when the Juvenile Care Centre was built on the same lot.

The rent collected from Stanton House, the Bishop's House, the Church Guest House, St. Paul's Church, and the schools on Inland Lot 76 were placed in the Victoria Bishopric Fund, for educational and charitable purposes. This fund supported the training of many Chinese clergy and many educational and social service projects.

Present: Battle to cut former Central Hospital plan down to size

A planning application was made last year requesting the Town Planning Board properly plan the site rather than immediately allow the Anglican Church to redevelop it without additional public consultation.

The Town Planning Board agreed with the concern group, and an Outline Zoning Plan (OZP) has been prepared by the Planning Department and was recently open for public scrutiny. In this OZP – which outlines broad-brush statutory planning details for all areas of Hong Kong – a height restriction of 135 metres (about 25 storeys) has been recommended for Bishop Hill by the Planning Department.

The concern groups argue this height is too high and any new development of consequent scale and bulk would overwhelm this sensitive heritage site. The group has now submitted a considered counter-proposal in a submission to the Town Planning Board. The GHCC argues that the entire site has a height restriction of no higher than 80 metres (about 20 metres higher than the former Central Hospital’s current height) and that any new development only be allowed to be built on the footprint of the current buildings.

This proposal will still allow the Anglican Church to develop, or renovate, the former Central Hospital, but will not overwhelm the site’s heritage and greenery. This restricted height will also contain the bulk and form of any new building, alleviate traffic congestion, and retain the unique historic ambiance of the entire Bishop Hill.

Bishop Hill, Central is part of the “Conserving Central” initiatives

The “Conserving Central” initiatives was announced in 2009-10 Policy Address by chief executive Tsang Yam-kuen. This initiatives adopted a “Point-line-plane” approach and selected eight sites for adaptive reuse with the aim of recognizing the importance of Central’s cultural and historical heritage and reinvigorating the legend of Central. Those eight sites include the Central Government Offices Complex, the Central Market, the Central Police Station Compound, the former French Mission Building, Murray Building, the New Central Harborfront, the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Compound (Bishop Hill), and also Police Married Quarters on Hollywood Road.

Post Date: November 22, 2019

bottom of page