The Happy Valley

A History and Tour of the Hong Kong Cemetery


Ken Nicolson

ISBN : 978-988-8028-10-8


June 2010

144 pages, 5.5″ x 8.5″, 84 color illus.; 6 maps

  • HK$180.00

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.

Ken Nicolson has been working as a landscape architect in Hong Kong since 1984. He is associate professor of the Architecture Conservation Programme in the Faculty of Architecture, the University of Hong Kong.

The Happy Valley: A History and Tour of the Hong Kong Cemetery includes information on everything to be found there, from trees to granite headstones to Masonic symbols to the Latin, Russian Orthodox and Celtic crosses. Most interesting, in the “Self-Guided Tour”, are the graves and memorials of people such as Sir Robert Ho Tung, Sir Paul Catchick Chater and the karayuki-san (Ms Gone-overseas), the Japanese call girls. This book is a gem.’ —South China Morning Post