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History of 5 Bowen Road Essay

Look at any old photo of pre-1950 Hong Kong and the hillsides above the city were dotted with handsome verandah type homes like this one. From the Mid-levels up to The Peak, every successful European merchant, official, compradore or trader scrambled to put up a mansion befitting their perceived status in colonial society. This home was built in 1914 by the property company, Hongkong Land Investment and Agency Company Ltd.

Its Devonian name ’Iddesleigh’ (pronounced ‘Idslee’) derived from the origins of its occupant, A Mr. Mowbray Stafford Northcote secretary of the Hongkong Land Investment and Agency Company, who was an honorary correspondent to the magazine ‘Devonia’ and was related to the Earl of Iddesleigh. In common with many structures which were built on Hong Kong’s precipitous hillsides, the house stands on a handsome, terraced granite base. When built, the house would have had sweeping views across the harbour and its verandahs would have been open to the elements.

Three-storey building built in neo-classical style, Corinthian columns, bow arch, decorated with carved eaves and rich ornate interior decoration, showing the lofty building owner socioeconomic status. The top of the building facade reflects its ornate pediment architectural style influenced by the Baroque. During the Japanese Occupation (1942-1945), this building was requisitioned as the home for the Japanese Imperial Naval commander.

After liberation at the end of the Second World War, the house was occupied by the Royal Navy and it would later become the official residence of the senior RN officer in Hong Kong, the Commodore-in-Charge and has been better known as the “Commodore’s House” since 1952. In 1979, the building was handed over to the Hong Kong Government. In 1990, the building was allocated for charity Mother’s Choice Baby Nursing and residential special child care centers.


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