Aspects of Village Life in the New Territories
>House and Home
House and Home
Extended families were not uncommon in China, but in the New Territories area the architecture shows clearly that the house was generally the home of the simple family of mother, father and unmarried children, perhaps with one of the grandparents living there too. Where the whole village was one ‘extended family’ (the clan) there was no call for larger units to live together in one house. The overwhelming majority of houses in Sheung Shui consisted of one large room, with the front part partitioned off as a kitchen-cum-utility room, and a small wooden half floor (a ‘cockloft’) towards the back of the house usually serving as a bedroom. Construction was of local blue brick and granite. The internal walls were seldom plastered, and the roof beams and tiles were not covered in. The floor was a hard smooth-finished earth and cement ‘pug’. The threshold of the front (and only) doors could be barricaded off with boards up to about half a metre in height in order to keep out the pigs which wandered the village scavenging during the day. My house was typical in having one electric light bulb but no power, so that there were no refrigerators or air-conditioners at that time. It was untypical in having piped water, though this was not deemed fit to drink and was used by myself and my neighbours only for washing purposes. It was important that the house and the family should be well protected.