The Garden of Prince Gong's Mansion is located in the north-western part of the old city of Peking, in the area known as the Rear Lakes (Hou Hai). It is said to have been the site of the Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci's residence when he lived in Peking. Originally it was the property of the Qianlong Emperor's favourite Heshen (1750-99), but after his disgrace and death it became imperial property. In 1851 it came into the possession of Prince Gong (1833-1898), who signed the Treaty of Tientsin (Tianjin) in 1860 after the sack of the Old Summer Palace (Yuan Ming Yuan). It was the childhood home of Prince Gong's grandson Pu Ru (Pu Xinyu, 1896-1963), a noted painter who ended his days in Taiwan after 1949; he was the last princely owner of the mansion and garden. It then became the site of a Catholic seminary which was later incorporated into Peking Normal University, and parts of the site are now occupied by the Peking Conservatoire. The garden includes a curious miniaturized 'Great Wall' with a 'Jesuit Baroque' gateway, apparently dating from the time of Heshen. There is an elaborate theatre building in the eastern part of the garden. As a whole, the garden is a good example of the northern style, with its rather imposing architecture. Sunk into the top of the 'artificial mountain' known as Dripping Verdure Cliff (Dicuiyan) are two large pottery vessels to hold the water which would be poured down the rock-face by servants concealed behind it, for the enjoyment of the owner and his guests during the hot summers. The garden is said to have influenced Ca Xuegin's description of Prospect Garden in the great eighteenth-century novel 'Dream of the Red Chamber' (The Story of the Stone).
-- Keswick, Maggie. (2003). The Chinese Garden: History, Art, and Architecture. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 219
Keywords: China, Beijing Shi, residential structures, housing, houses, mansion, site and landscaped elements. Submitted by Budiman Wiharja.