King Yin Lei

King Yin Lei (Chinese: 景賢里) is an historic mansion in the Mid-levels area of Hong Kong.[4]

King Yin Lei
Native name
Chinese: 景賢里
Location45 Stubbs Road, Mid-levels, Hong Kong
Coordinates22°16′00.21″N 114°10′51.11″E / 22.2667250°N 114.1808639°E / 22.2667250; 114.1808639Coordinates: 22°16′00.21″N 114°10′51.11″E / 22.2667250°N 114.1808639°E / 22.2667250; 114.1808639
AreaHong Kong
ArchitectA.R. Fenton-Rayen
Architectural style(s)Chinese classic[1]
Chinese Renaissance[2][3]
OwnerGovernment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
Designated11 July 2008[1][2]
Reference no.M0085

History and designEdit

The mansion was designed by British architect A.R. Fenton-Raven (Husband of Viola, father of Wynne (Ward) and Dorothy (Balean)). Construction began in 1936 and was completed by 1937.[5] It sits on a 50,650 square feet (4,706 m2) site above Happy Valley Racecourse. The compound comprises a three-storey "red bricks and green tiles" building, a private garden festooned with penjing plants, various pavilions and terraces.


The property was offered for sale in early 2004. Despite claims that it was likely that the new buyer would demolish the property and redevelop it, the Government of Hong Kong did not act.

The Conservancy Association of Hong Kong, a heritage advocacy group, wrote to the Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho in April 2004 requesting him to consider declaring the mansion a monument under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance. The Association also organised a "Save King Yin Lei Campaign" in June and generated public discussion. Yow Mok Shing then announced that he would not sell the building for the moment.

The Government of Hong Kong did not act to preserve the building, arguing that it was private property and had not used its allocated land mass to the fullest. If the government was to declare it a historical building, thus forbidding the demolition and any further development on the site, it would have to pay a large amount of compensation to the owner, in the millions.

The owner wrote to the government on the preservation of the site but received no reply. Later, Secretary for Development Carrie Lam admitted it was insensitive of her department not to do so.[6]

On 11 September 2007, dump trucks were spotted at the site. Parts of the roof were removed. All three Chinese characters on a front gate plaque were chiselled away by workers.[7] The Conservancy Association of Hong Kong expressed disappointment that the government had not been able to preserve the estate. When the start of demolition was reported in the Hong Kong media, the government declared the site a proposed monument and ordered a work stoppage.[8]

On 25 January 2008, the government reached a preliminary understanding with the owner on a possible preservation option for the mansion. Under the agreement, the owner surrendered King Yin Lei's entire site to the government after restoration. Subject to the necessary town planning approval, the government would grant an adjacent man-made slope site of a size similar to King Yin Lei to the owner for development, subject to the same plot ratio of 0.5 and a height restriction of three storeys.[9][10]

Conservation work was undertaken from 2008 to December 2010.[11] The roof was restored in Phase One, including about 50,000 glazed roof tiles from Guangdong Province.[2] Phase Two involved the exterior walls and the mansion's interior.[2] In late 2010, the restoration was considered to be "substantially completed" and management of the property was taken over by the government of Hong Kong.[11] It is graded as a declared Monument.[11]

Current useEdit

King Yin Lei remains vacant as of 2018.[11][3] Its high-grade status as a monument means that it cannot be altered for commercial re-use.[3]

However, the government hosts several open houses throughout the year, during which the public can tour the monument.[12][13] Tickets for timed sessions are distributed for free in advance.[13] Visitors can view the mansion, including a few rooms that have been furnished with antiques, and the grounds.[3]

In 2019, King Yin Lei was included in Batch VI of the Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme.[14] The Scheme seeks public participation in preserving historic buildings and putting them to good use. Proposals are due in September 2020.[15]

In popular cultureEdit

The building has been featured in several films and TV series over the years. In Enter the Dragon,[12] it can be seen both on the black and white composite photo used to represent Han's Island during Lee's briefing with Braithewaite, and as a long shot as Lee enters Han's island. Two films were shot at King Yin Lei in 1955: Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing and Clark Gable's Soldier of Fortune.[12] The TV series Yesterday's Glitter (京華春夢) starring Liza Wang was shot inside the mansion.[16]



  1. ^ a b Chan, Ming K. (2008). China's Hong Kong Transformed: Retrospect and Prospects. City University of Hong Kong Press. p. 225. ... the Chinese classic style King Yin Lei mansion on Stubbs Road, the Conservancy Association requested the HKSAR government to declare the mansion as a proposed monument 42 and later submitted an application to the Town Planning ...
  2. ^ a b c d "King Yin Lei declared a monument (with photos)". Antiquities and Monuments Office, Leisure and Cultural Services Department. Antiquities and Monuments Office. 18 September 2008. Archived from the original on 12 February 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d Dewolf, Christopher (27 September 2017). "Take a Peek Inside King Yin Lei, Hong Kong's Chinese Renaissance Landmark". Zolima CityMag. Zolima Ltd. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  4. ^ McMillan, Alex Frew (29 April 2011). "The King Yin Lei Mansion in Hong Kong Is Saved". New York Times. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  5. ^ "71 year-old Chinese styled mansion designed by a westerner". Ming Pao News (in Chinese). 15 September 2007. Archived from the original on 11 June 2011. Retrieved 7 November 2007.
  6. ^ "Antiquities: Carrie Lam urges meeting with building owner". Information Services Department, Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. 20 September 2007. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  7. ^ Cable TV news, Hong Kong – 1700 edition, 14 September 2007.
  8. ^ "Antiquities: King Yin Lei declared proposed monument". Information Services Department, Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. 14 September 2007. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  9. ^ "Heritage: King Yin Lei to be declared a monument". Information Services Department, Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. 25 January 2008. Archived from the original on 28 January 2008.
  10. ^ Report No. 60 of the Director of Audit, Chapter 1: "Conservation of monuments and historic buildings", 28 March 2013.
  11. ^ a b c d "Batch III of Revitalisation Scheme". Conserve and Revitalise Hong Kong Heritage. Development Bureau - Works Branch of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. 23 December 2016. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  12. ^ a b c Mirandilla, Leanne (17 October 2017). "King Yin Lei: a mysterious Renaissance mansion". The Loop: the best of Hong Kong. The Loop HK. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  13. ^ a b "King Yin Lei monument to open". (Press release). Information Services Department, Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. 24 August 2018. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  14. ^ "Batch VI of Revitalisation Scheme – Batch VI Historic Buildings". Conserve and Revitalise Hong Kong Heritage. Development Bureau, Government of Hong Kong. 12 November 2019. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  15. ^ "Batch VI of Revitalisation Scheme - Application Arrangements". Conserve and Revitalise Hong Kong Heritage. Development Bureau, Government of Hong Kong. 30 July 2020. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  16. ^ "King Yin Lei". The Conservancy Association. The Conservancy Association. Retrieved 20 January 2019.

External linksEdit