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Restoration Project of King Law Ka Shuk
TaiPoTauTsuen, TaiPo, NewTerritories
Situated at Tai Po Tau Tsuen, Tai Po, King Law
Ka Shuk is the ancestral hall of the Tang clan in
Tai Po Tau Tsuen which has been serving its
clansmen for over one hundred years. The Tang
clan which branched out from Kam Tin, Yuen
Long, settled in Tai Po Tau Tsuen in the thirteenth
century and founded the walled village Shui Wai.
Due to the construction of the Kowloon-Canton
Railway at the beginning of the twentieth century,
the village was divided into Shui Wai and Tai Po
Tau Tsuen. According to the villagers, King Law
Ka Shuk was built by the thirteenth generation
ancestors Tang Yuen-wan, Tang Mui-kai and Tang
Nim-fung in the Ming dynasty to commemorate
their tenth generation ancestor Tang King-law,
who was respected as the first generation
ancestor of Lau Kwong Tong (one of the lineages
of the Tang clan in Tai Po Tau).
Tai Po Tau Tsuen in the early 1960s.
(Photo provided by courtesy of Mr. Tang Hin Po)
King Law Ka Shuk was once used as a study
hall. Bok Bok Chai (the Chinese traditional
teaching method) was practised in the study hall
and there was a maximum of forty students at
one time. Apart from being used for teaching
purpose, the building also served as a venue for
clan members to hold meetings and traditional
functions. Since the provision of public education
by the government in 1948, the teaching purpose
of King Law Ka Shuk became less important.
However, it still serves as the dominant venue
for clan members to hold meetings and
King Law Ka Shuk is a traditional
three-hall building with two open
courtyards. It is fronted by two drum
terraces each having granite columns
supporting the roof. The main ridge is
decorated with geometric motifs.
Beautifully decorated mouldings are found
inside the building.
King Law Ka Shuk was declared as a monument in 1998. The original character of the building was inadvertently lost, partly due to its dilapidated conditions resulting from lack of sensitive maintenance. In addition, a restoration project in 1932 had further concealed the traditional disposition of the building by the introduction of modern materials. Consequently, large-scale restoration works to reinstate the original state of the study hall were made possible in 1998 with the consent of the villagers and funding from the government. The restoration works were monitored by the Office and carried out by the Architectural Services Department. Other participants included specialist conservators from Hong Kong, Mainland China and England. Moreover, the villagers from Tai Po Tau Tsuen were actively involved and contributed their valuable comments to the restoration project.
This recent restoration project was indeed a challenging and difficult task. One of the prerequisites was to make a precise recording of King Law Ka Shuk before restoration so as to provide the specialists with a thorough understanding of the hall's history, original materials, as well as design and functions of the building. The Office had therefore commissioned Guangdong Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology to conduct a detailed cartographic survey and to produce working drawings for the restoration project.
Restoration work of King Law Ka Shuk.
panel of King
Law Ka Shuk.
In order to successfully restore the study hall
to its original appearance, the conservators
removed modern materials like cement and steel,
which had been added in the 1932 restoration.
However, the two original parapets as well as
the ancestral altar from Guangzhou of the 1930's
were preserved. The work began by dismantling
the two parapets in the atrium, then they were
assembled again on the green brick wall on both sides of the chambers after careful restoration.
Dr. John Hurd, a specialist conservator from
England, carried out conservation of the ancestral
altar. In addition, the parts damaged by termites
and leakage were totally replaced.
During the restoration, village representatives
attended regular site meetings, together with the
Office, to monitor the restoration and to give
valuable comments. The entire restoration project
was finally completed successfully in about two
years, and King Law Ka Shuk was reinstated to
its original charm.
In 2001, King Law Ka Shuk restoration project
was recognized as the winner of Award of Merit
of UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage 2001 Awards
for Culture Heritage Conservation and the award
presentation ceremony was held at King Law Ka
Shuk on 17 March 2002 with the presence of
representatives of UNESCO. The project set an
example in the application of best practice
methodology of renovation and in demonstrating the value of restoration and conservation of a
historic building for community use. Carried out
through a balanced conservation approach and
strong community involvement, the restoration
is regarded as an ambitious success in bringing
the historic building back to its original state, also
integrating some of the more modern elements
from the 1930s.
In addition, King Law Ka Shuk restoration
project had won the Award of Merit in the Hong
Kong Heritage Awards (2001), jointly organized
by the Antiquities Advisory Board and the Office.
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