Here is the interior of the British Episcopal Church in Foochow (Fuzhou), decorated with Union Jack flags and a banner ‘GOD SAVE THE KING’. Directly above the alter is another banner that reads: ‘From among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee.’ This photo was perhaps taken at the time of the coronation of Edward VII, which was in August 1902?
The congregation glowing in their Sunday best would have been kept from overheating by the open mesh, webbed cane pews and the magnificent billowing fans, gently rustling the thin paper of their hymn books. No sign of the Chinese equivalent of the punkah wallahs. Intertwined in this classic treaty port image (Os-s087) are themes of religion, royalty, patriotism, settler identity and way of life – the whole imperialist, quasi-colonial bag, seemingly permanent, but utterly unpicked by 1943.