Government House ( ;
formerly 督憲府/香港總督府/港督府), located on Government Hill in the Central
District of Hong Kong
Island, is the official
residence of the Chief
Executive of Hong
The Government House, oblique
The building was constructed in 1855, but
was significantly remodelled during Japanese occupation
resulting in the current hybrid Japanese-Neoclassical
House was the official residence of the Governor from 1855 to 1997, when the
city was under British
25 Governors of Hong Kong, out of total 28,
used this building as official residence.
Government House in 1868
Government House was designed by Charles St George Cleverly
Construction started in 1851, eight years after Hong Kong was
declared a British colony, and took four years to complete. The
first governor to live there was Sir
, the fourth governor of the territory. The last
one was the last governor, Chris
In 1891, an annex was added to the house for social functions
(namely the Ballroom). During the Japanese occupation
World War II
(1941-1945), it was
occupied by the Japanese Military Governor. The form of the
building changed to a hybrid Japanese/Neoclassical
image by Seichi Fujimura
in 1944, primarily through
the addition of a tower and roof elements.
House also housed the Legislative Council of Hong
Kong from 1855 to the 1930s.
The Council used the
Ballroom from 1891 onward.
Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China in 1997, the House became a Ceremonial Reception
for ceremonies (such as confederation of Honours and formal
banquets). Tung Chee Hwa
first Chief Executive of
did not reside in Government House.
, the second and current
Chief Executive moved into Government House in January 2006,
following extensive renovations. The
criticised that the renovation cost was estimated
at HK$14.5 million, including a sum of HK$300,000 allocated to a
new fish pond designed to accommodate Tsang's collection of
entrance of the House faces south towards Victoria Peak. Down on the northern side is the Central
Government Offices, where most Government Secretariat offices are
Government House has a front lawn and a back garden. Eminent among
the plants in the garden are the numerous azaleas
that come to full bloom in spring. Inside,
the Ballroom, the Drawing Room, the Dining Room and the Conference
Room are frequently used for receiving guests at official functions
Gate Lodges and Government House Guards
At the front entrance on Upper Albert Road, there are two buildings
with an iron gate known as the Gate Lodges. The Lodges once housed
the Government House Guards, who stood in front of the house and
protected the Governor of Hong
. Various units of the British
stationed in Hong Kong were used as guard units.
- 1st Battalion of the Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment 1962-63
- C Company of the 1st Battalion of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal
Regiment Beskshire and Wiltshire
Following the handover in 1997, officers of the Hong Kong Police
have guarded the
The Garden of Government House is open two times a year to the
public. At least one will be arranged in spring to enable members
of the public to share the delight in viewing the full bloom of the
azaleas. Visitors are usually allowed to pass by the Drawing Room,
Dining Room and Ballroom where key official functions are
The Open Days are generally arranged during weekends. Dates are
announced through press releases one week in advance. No admission
fee is charged.
In 1990's, the Ballroom of Government House is reserved on three
Fridays in a month for bookings by charitable, non-profit or public
organisations to host events that benefit the community. The nature
of the event under application must be well-matched with the
identity of Government House as an important historical monument of
Hong Kong and with its status as a dignified location for the
Hong Kong Government
official functions. In early 2006, the Chief Executive moved into
Government House and used it as official residence and office. Most
of the staff in the Chief Executive's Office have also been
relocated to Government House to support the Chief Executive. Since
then, Government House is no longer available for booking due to
security and operational reasons.
Other official residences
Mountain Lodge, on Victoria Peak, was built as an alternate summer home for the
Governor, a role it retained until 1934.
survived until 1946, but today only the Gate
and Victoria Peak
remain. One of three "GOVERNOR'S RESIDENCE" marking
stones of the former Mountain Lodge was erected in the small flower
bed in front of the entrance of the Government House in 1980.
From 1934, Fanling Lodge
, in the
, was used as a
summer residence for the Governor. It has retained this role, and
is now the alternate residence of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong.
The lodge is occupied mainly on weekends and holidays.
to an urban legend, the nearby Bank of China
Tower was deliberately designed to shape like a blade so as to reflect bad feng
shui to the Government House and its British
It is believed that willow trees were
planted in the Government House Garden to block the ensuing bad
That notwithstanding, a number of feng shui masters have expressed
that the feng shui for Government House, which is surrounded by
skyscrapers, is far from optimal. It is worth noting that the
Government House was built before any major urban developments,
especially those after World War II.
some feng shui experts have expressed the opposite, citing that the
position of the Government House (with the Victoria Peak behind it and the Victoria Harbour in front of it) makes for an optimal place for
decision-making, and that its exact position brings wealth and
power for all of its residents.
According to The New York
, the supposedly bad feng-shui was precisely the
reason Tung Chee Hwa refused to live or work in Government House
upon becoming Chief Executive. Ironically, during his terms as
Chief Executive, he was still heavily criticised by Hongkongers
, and his popularity fell well below
40% by the time of his resignation.
reason to stay away from the mansion was political: a subtle effort
to reduce the age-old British legacy over Hong Kong. Other sources
mention that "it was the warning about spying devices [installed
throughout Government House] that scared him away".