Flowers for Lady Clementi | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Flowers for Lady Clementi

Flowers for Lady Clementi

Labelled no. 7, this is the second of the Ming Yuen Studio proofs in the family collection that shows my cousin Diana Warren as the 1933 May Queen at Quarry Bay School. The legend on the back explains that she is handing flowers to Lady Clementi, the Governor's wife. Unfortunately Lady Clementi is out of the picture. 


Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Monday, May 1, 1933


Any chance of confirming the year? Clementi's governorship was between 1925 and 1930.

The photo must have been sent to a family member and returned at a later date. The original message on the back (with no date) reads: "Diana, May Queen, handing flowers to Lady Clementi, who by the way you cannot see! X" It is in Cicely Warren's hand. Many years later, when sorting Hong Kong photos, Diana herself has added "Hong Kong. Quarry Bay School 1933." She was born in December 1926 and must have estimated or remembered what age she was May Queen. Any chance Lady Clementi could have returned to Hong Kong after 1930?


China Mail 5 April 1933

The Spring Festival with another QBS pupil as 'May Queen' was covered by the China Mail. I am afraid, Lady Clementi was not in attendance.

Interesting photo as it is one of earliest QBS photos that I have seen. Time permitting, will see if other information is available to nail down the date.


Thanks for following this up, moddsey. I can't personally vouch for the 1933 date that was inserted many years afterwards. Might it be possible, however, that Lady Clementi came back to Hong Kong at some point after leaving in 1930 - perhaps mainly to visit the Clementi Secondary School that the Clementis set up? As the original message on the photo seems to have been written fairly soon after the event depicted, I can't understand why uncle's wife would have a mistake about the potential recipient of the bouquet. I'm sorry to have caused confusion. Many of our other photos have inaccuracies in the legends due to later insertion, I'm afraid.


It'll be good to narrow down what is accurate or not in the notes.

Moddsey, can you confirm if the setting is QBS? The pillars in the background have a distinctive design, and look to match these other photos of QBS:

Regards, David

I do not doubt the photos are of QBS. Will try and find out more.

Here are mentions of the Spring Festival at QBS around this time.

Jill, you might want to check the weekly pictorial supplement following each year's festival, as these photos may appear in it. I think it came out on a Sunday.

Regards, David

Wed, 1 April 1931

  • May Queen: Gwenneth Waldron
  • Attendants: n/a
  • "... the large gathering, which included Lady Peel, ..."
  • Reported in The Hong Kong Telegraph, 1931-04-01, pg.7

Fri, 22 April 1932

  • May Queen: Barbara Starling
  • Attendants: Dorothy Woodward and Rodney Barker
  • "Lady Peel was the guest of honour and received a beautiful bouquet from the children."
  • Reported in The Hong Kong Telegraph, 1932-04-23, pg.17

Tues, 4 April 1933

  • May Queen: Viola Rogers
  • Attendants: n/a
  • "Among those present were Mrs. W. T. Southorn, ..."
  • Reported in The China Mail, 1933-04-05, pg. 7

Wed, 28 Mar 1934

  • May Queen: n/a
  • Attendants: n/a
  • "... a large gathering of delighted visitors, amongs whom were Lady Peel, ..."
  • Reported in The Hong Kong Telegraph, 1934-03-28, pg. 7

Tues, 9 April 1935

  • May Queen: Joanna Ball (replaced Ellinor Meffon)
  • Attendants: n/a
  • "The function was graced by the presence of Lady Peel..."
  • Reported in Hong Kong Daily Press, 1935-04-10, pg. 6

From what I have gleaned from the newspapers and HKGRO.

QBS opened on 28 April 1924 in premises provided by Butterfield and Swire. HKGRO indicates that temporary room(s) were provided at the Taikoo Club. The school held its first anniversary on 2 May 1925. Hence the association with the Spring Festival and selection of a 'May Queen'.

QBS (original building on King's Road) was taken over in September 1926 and occupied the following month. At the end of its first term, the school held its official opening on 17 December 1926.

On 3 May 1927, the school celebrated its third anniversary and the first Spring Festival in the original building. Anne Weir was chosen as May Queen with Lady Clementi in attendance. B/W photos similar to the ones posted appear on 7 May 1927 in the HK Telegraph.

Besides the Sunday edition, the Saturday HK Telegraph also provides photos of the week's events.


Many thanks David and moddsey for pursuing the QBS May Queens so diligently. I'm not in a position to look for the pictorial supplements at the moment but will do so as soon as I have the chance. I wonder if the BL has digitised them. It's good that the May Queen celebrations were of enough local interest to be recorded in the press. So we should get an accurate date for the photos eventually.


 A few photographs of the 1934 QBS Spring Festival snapped by Ming Yuen appear in the Hong Kong Telegraph dated 7 April 1934. The stage setting and children shown appear to be similar to the ones posted. In one photograph, the Govenor's wife, Lady Peel has a bouquet of flowers in her hand.

Many thanks for bothering to follow this up, moddsey. The British Library doesn't stock the Hong Kong Telegraph. I had a trawl through their SCMP microfilms for March-May 1934 & 1936 yesterday. Quarry Bay School's Spring Festival for 1934 was announced for 28 March, but unfortunately the 29 March issue which I thought might have reported it was missing. I didn't go as far as 7 April. As to the mistake about Lady Clementi, I can only suppose that the photo was annotated at a much later date for sending to a relative. Good to have the correct year for the photos now.