Law Uk Folk Museum

Law Uk Folk Museum (CN: 羅屋) is an 18th century Hakka village house that has been restored and converted into a museum showcasing the life of the Hakka people.

The museum is open from Monday to Wednesday, Friday to Sunday: 10am – 6pm  and Christmas Eve and Chinese New Year’s Eve: 10am – 5pm. Admission is free. It’s a small museum worthy of a look if you are in the area.

Nearby In the Area

  • Shek O Country Park (石澳郊野公園)
  • Big Wave Bay (大浪灣)
  • Former Sai Wan Battery (西灣砲台)

Wikipedia Says

History

It is not definitively known when Law Uk was completed, but it is estimated that the house was constructed in the mid 18th-century. This was about the time when the Law family moved to Hong Kong from Bao’an County in Guangdong province. The approximate date of construction is backed up by official documents from the Qing Dynasty that dated from 1767 and 1796. The existence of these documents—which were in the Law family’s possession—came to light when Law Uk was rediscovered. At the time it was built, the house was on Hong Kong Island’s waterfront with Victoria Harbour. However, it is now much farther inland due to land reclamation that has been undertaken over the years.

The area around present-day Chai Wan was uninhabited and simply featured barren and forested land. When the Laws moved there, they were part of an entourage of approximately 300 Hakka people, who settled in the area and established a village. The majority of them worked as stonecutters in neighbouring quarries. Others were fishermen due to the area’s proximity to the sea. The Law family, however, were impoverished rice farming peasants who also raised chickens and pigs on their farm.

One of Law Uk’s wings was destroyed during the Battle of Hong Kong in 1941, when a Japanese shell was dropped onto it. Nonetheless, the village lifestyle of the Hakka continued through the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong until 1945. After the end of World War II, the number of refugees coming to the colony increased dramatically, and they began to set up squatter huts on hills around Chai Wan.This ended up “destroy[ing] the Hakka’s way of life.”

Due to the shortage of land, the Hakka village was cleared and demolished, and Chai Wan was transformed into an industrial area with many public housing estates. As a result, the Law family moved out of the house in 1960 and were resettled into one of the surrounding housing estates. This was a similar situation for the other villagers, whose descendants now live in apartment complexes close to where the village once stood.

Restoration

Before its rediscovery, Law Uk was left in a derelict state and used as a workshop that produced metallic furniture. This caused the building to be a fire hazard, due to the spray paints and other flammable goods stored inside. The Resettlement Department rediscovered the house in the early 1970s and urged the curator of the new Hong Kong Museum of History—which opened in July 1975—to buy and renovate Law Uk.

The building was ultimately restored and reopened as the Law Uk Folk Museum in 1989. It was declared a monument of Hong Kong in the same year on 10 November. The museum served as one of the three branches of the Hong Kong Museum of History, along with the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence and the Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb Museum. This has now been expanded to five branches with the addition of the Fireboat Alexander Grantham Exhibition Gallery and the Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum.

Due to its modest size and less-than-ideal location among industrial factories, the museum experienced poor attendance over the years. Because of this, the Museum of Hong Kong had contemplated closing the Law Uk Folk Museum. However, it remains open and operating to this day.
Law Uk is the sole surviving village house and the last example of traditional Hakka housing in Chai Wan.

Architecture

Law Uk has been described as a “typical” Hakka house, consisting of five rooms where approximately ten people could live. Centered around the main hall, the house was designed to be symmetrical and features a lightwell at the front of the hall. This was key as the house did not have many windows, for fear of robbers and pirates.

As part of the restoration in the 1980s, a new annex to the house was built that matched the overall architectural style of Law Uk.

Source: Wikipedia

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Details

  • Website: www.lcsd.gov.hk
  • EN Address: 14 Kut Shing Street, Chai Wan, Hong Kong Island
  • Getting There: MTR Chai Wan Station, Exit B, then walk for approximately five minutes.

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