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Report - - Shek Lo Mansion, Fanling (NT), Hong Kong, August 2017 | European and International Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk
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Report - Shek Lo Mansion, Fanling (NT), Hong Kong, August 2017

HughieD

28DL Regular User
Regular User
#1
1. The History
Shek Lo is a colonial house near Fanling (also referred to as ‘Peter Lodge’). It was built in 1925 by Mr ‘Peter’ Tsui Yan Sau (1889-1980), a convert to Catholicism who was also the founder of Wah Yan College and was the first principal between 1919-1926 (pictured below)

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ystsui

Tsui was the architect and contractor of his own house. Built on a piece of land calved-out of the adjacent lychee orchard, the two-storey building was a blend of Chinese and Western architectural styles. The colonial-style front porch and European big windows with shutters were complemented by a roof typical of rural Chinese mansions (a pitched roof supported on wooden purlins and battens and covered by Chinese clay tiles); Chinese interior layout; a Chinese doorway with a sliding timber gate; and a kitchen at the back with a wood-burning stove which had a huge wok. In the annex building to the right, a beautiful hardwood floor was installed upstairs to serve as a party room for the teenage sons. After the War, HKU Alumni held its first dance there when hardwood dance floor could not be found anywhere.

I found these fascinating memoirs from Paul Tsui Ka Cheung (1916-1994), fifth son of Peter Tsui Yan Sau, about the layout of the house:

“It was a hybrid between what was conventional in rural China and what my father [Peter] might have personally interpreted to be the American equivalent, as he had read from many magazines he bought for reference. It was a two-storeyed square house, without much external ornamental decorations. The porch in front, was supported by columns of pillars, which gave you an impression as the White House of Washington DC might give you. As you entered, there was a fairly spacious hall, intended as Reception hall and Parlour combined, typical of a Chinese Rural Mansion. There was a dining room on the right, a staircase compartment separating the dining room from the kitchen at the rear. On the left, there was a guest room, and two additional rooms, of which one could be used as a Den, the other an extra bed room which could be used as a store room, as required. The spacious centre room on the floor immediately above, was intended as the family room. The sleeping chambers were all located upstairs. The space beneath the staircase was enclosed to be the bathroom. There was no running, piped water. A bucket was used for hot water, which would be shovelled over the body with a hand towel, in a manner not unlike the taking of a shower, for our baths. The flooring for the ground floor was of cement concrete, rendered smooth and the flooring upstairs was of hard wood laid on beams of China Fir poles”.

Other notable features include the courtyard and located in the middle of the parapet of the roof, a semi-circular brick wall engraved with the characters “Shek Lo”.

Paul Tsui Ka Cheung went on to recall:

“We moved into "Shek Lo" three days before the Chinese New Year in Feburary, 1925 [when Paul was 9]. The house was hardly ready. The external walls were not even plastered. The scaffolding outside the house was still up. The walls inside were just finished and newly white-washed. Windows and doors however were already securely installed. There were no electricity, and we had to use kerosene [lamps] for lighting.”

Due to the lack of a suitable church in the local area, Peter Tsui allowed local Catholics to hold Catholic Mass at Shek Lo. However, in 1930 Tsui took a concubine (called Chiu Ying) and the local priest had to write to the Bishop to tell him there would be scandal if they continued to use the house for Mass. The problem was solved when Tsui and his concubine moved to a new house nearby at Ma Wat village. He left Shek Lo to his wife, Chin Kang Tai, who found the acceptance of her husband’s concubine difficult. In 1941 with the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong, Shek Lo was apparently trashed. After that the history of the place gets a bit sketchy. However one thing that is certain, it remained a family residence until the early 1980’s when it was sold by the executors of Peter Tsui's estate on his death.

Shek Lo circa 1950:

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Shek Lo 1950s

Today the building is in desperate need of repair and restoration, having sat abandoned since the late 80s. It was, until recently, open access with the land in front maintained clear. However in the Summer of 2014 a fence was built around Shek Lo and its main entrance had been under renovation. This now appears to have halted and the property is now being rapidly enveloped in woodland undergrowth. Apparently Shek Lo is Grade II listed.

2. The Explore
I have found Shek Lo a magical place ever since I first cast eyes on it out of the window of my sister-in-laws's flat that we were staying in in Fanling back in 2003. Two years I explored the place and it was a no-brainer about going back for a revisit. The place hasn’t changed much in two years. The fauna has advanced and my original entry point overgrown. But to the rescue came my brother-in-law, Gordy, with a very useful plank! Despite the light beginning to fade, this was a longer explore compared to the previous time and I feel I did better justice to this fantastic mansion.

3. The Pictures

Oh Shek Lo, I hear you calling me:

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img1946

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img1947

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Inside we go:

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Ground floor facilities:

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An old book-case:

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img1961

Out to the courtyard:

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img1979

And up-stairs:

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img1968

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img1972

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This 1979 calendar equates with the time around when the place was vacated:

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img1974

On the balcony:

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On to the annex:

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img1980

First floor of the annex:

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This part of Shek Lo has faired less well:

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img1985

Vines at the window:

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img1987

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