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Hau Ku Shek Ancestral Hall in Sheung Shui gazetted as historical building

With the full support of the Hau clan in Ho Sheung Heung, Sheung Shui, the Hau Ku Shek Ancestral Hall was gazetted as a historical building under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance (Chapter 53) today (December 19).

The Hau Ku Shek Ancestral Hall was built to commemorate the 17th-generation ancestor Hau Ku-shek (1554 - 1628) in the Ming dynasty. According to the date inscribed on the name board over the main entrance, the ancestral hall is believed to have been built around the 27th year of the Qianlong reign of the Qing Dynasty - in 1762.

The Hau Ku Shek Ancestral Hall is built in the traditional three-hall-two-courtyard style.

An altar is erected in the middle hall where the sacrificial tablets of the ancestors are enshrined. There are side chambers on each side of the front courtyard, while the right chamber is used as a kitchen.The two-storey rear hall was once used as a village school.

The lower floor originally provided accommodation for teachers while the upper floor was used as classrooms. During the Second World War, the study hall was closed. Later, a new village school - Ho Kai School - was established near the Ancestral Hall in 1953. In its prime, the school had over 400 students; it was the earliest subsidised primary school in Sheung Shui.

At present, the Hau Ku Shek Ancestral Hall is not only a venue for the villagers in Ho Sheung Heung to worship their ancestors and hold traditional festivals, but also a place for gatherings and meetings.

The drum platforms and entrance doorframe are constructed of red sandstone, which in former times was used only for buildings of high status. The roof ridges and gable walls are richly embellished, especially the "wok-yee" shaped gable wall of the rear hall, which bears the insignia of court officials and scholars. Auspicious motifs engraved on the lintel and brackets inside the hall are exquisitely crafted.

The Hau clan in the New Territories first settled in "Shanggu Prefecture", in the middle and western parts of Hebei Province. During a visit to Baoan, Hau Ng-long, a "jun-shi" in the Song Dynasty (960-1279), was so impressed by the scenic landscape and the pleasant ambience that he decided to move from Panyu to Baoan.

In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), his eleventh generation descendant Hau Cheuk-fung discovered that Ho Sheung Heung was endowed with a vast piece of farmland irrigated by the nearby Sheung Yue River and made Ho Sheung Heung his home. Since then, the Haus, from generation to generation, have inhabited the area. Nowadays, the Han clan, with a history of 600 years in Ho Sheung Heung, Kam Tsin, Ping Kong, Yin Kong and Hung Leng, are the descendants of Hau Ng-long.

Visitors are welcome to visit the Hau Kui Shek Ancestral Hall. It is open daily except Tuesdays from 9am to 1pm and from 2pm to 5pm. It is also closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day and the first three days of the Lunar New Year.

Ends/Friday, December 19, 2003
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