Tang Ancestral Hall and its adjoining land and buildings, Ha Tsuen, Yuen Long, gazetted as historical buildings
A notice was gazetted today (December 7) announcing that the Tang Ancestral Hall and the adjoining land and buildings at Ha Tsuen, Yuen Long, are declared as historical buildings under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance with effect from February 1, 2008.
The Tang Ancestral Hall, alias Yau Kung Tong, was constructed by the Ha Tsuen Tang clan to commemorate their two ancestors, Tang Hung Chi and Tang Hung Wai, for establishing the village settlements in Ha Tsuen. According to a stone inscription named "Dingjian Zhehui Ergongci Peixiangbei" placed in the middle hall, construction of the Tang Ancestral Hall began in the "jisi" year of the Qianlong reign (1749) and was completed in the "gengwu" year of the Qianlong reign (1750). The ancestral hall came into use in 1751. The Tang Ancestral Hall underwent two major renovations in the 17th year of the Daoguang reign (1837) and the ninth year of the Guangxu reign(1883) respectively. Most of the historic building fabric and relics are still preserved in the hall. There are a number of honorary plaques hanging in the middle hall, indicating the glorious history of the Tangs in the Qing imperial government.
The magnificent ancestral hall is an example of three-hall-two-courtyard Qing vernacular architecture, having two side chambers built in the second courtyard. The ancestral tablets of the Tangs are placed in a dignified timber altar in the main bay of the rear hall. The building structure was built with green brick walls and stone columns supporting the timber-framed and tiled roof. Fine and delicate brackets are fixed onto the truss system. Exquisite fascia boards with floral patterns are found in the three halls and the side chambers, while some of the beams are elaborately carved with traditional Chinese propitious motifs.
The Tang Ancestral Hall has played an important role in religious and ceremonial events of the Tang clan in Ha Tsuen. Traditional clan activities, such as the ancestor worship of the Spring and Autumn Equinox and the Ceremony of Lighting Lanterns, still take place in the hall every year. Moreover, the hall is also an essential venue for holding the rituals of the decennial Dajiao festival at Ha Tsuen.
The Guesthouse and the Yau Kung School situated close to the Tang Ancestral Hall are believed to have been built before 1924. Situated to the left of the Tang Ancestral Hall, the Guesthouse was built to provide hospitality for guests of the clan. It was then used as quarters for teachers of Yau Kung School in the 1950s. An altar to Man Cheong (god of literacy) and Mo Kuk (god of martial art) is still placed in the building for sacrificial offerings. The Guesthouse comprises two halls, with an open courtyard in between. It is built of green bricks, with its walls supporting the pitched roofs constructed of timber purlins, rafters and tiles. Wall cornices are decorated with mouldings with floral motifs. Glazed ceramic grilles are preserved in the hall on the right, flanked by a pair of plaster couplets.
Situated behind the Tang Ancestral Hall, the Yau Kung School was built for provision of education to the children in the area. The school began as a three-bay structure, which was extended in 1952 when it became a government-aided school. Due to the increase in student numbers, part of the Tang Ancestral Hall and the Guesthouse was once used as classrooms and dormitories for teachers. The school is constructed of green bricks with an open playground in front. The main building has two sets of ridges decorated with mouldings of auspicious and geometric motifs. Plaster mouldings of curling grass can still be seen on the gable frieze.
Together, the Tang Ancestral Hall, the Guesthouse and Yau Kung School form a unique historic building compound which reminds people of the history, folk culture and education of the Tangs in the area. With the support of the Ha Tsuen Tang clan, the compound will be declared a historical cluster of buildings and protected under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance. To preserve this valuable historic compound, a conservation study will be carried out by the Antiquities and Monuments Office, followed by a full restoration of the buildings. The compound will be opened for public viewing after completion of the restoration.