Sunday, 12 June 2011

Review: Edwardian Farm

Edwardian Farm
by Alex Langlands, Ruth Goodman & Peter Ginn

The book “The Edwardian Farm” accompanies the 12 part BBC Series of the same name currently running on BBC2. Being a fan of the series I am of course an avid viewer and I was so happy to get a chance to review the book too.
The Edwardian Farm is a follow up to The Victorian Farm from 2009, where the authors; Alex, Ruth and Peter have both moved to a new region of Britain and taken on a new era in farming. Morwellham Quay on the banks of the River Tamar in Devonshire provides them with the perfect opportunity to try a hand at a more modern lifestyle in a still rural, but a more industrial setting than previously.
As much as I love learning about farm life at the turn of the century I am also fascinated by all the other ways of earning money that the authors try out.
One of these cottage industries that I am particularly interested in myself is the Honiton bobbin lace making. At a time when machine made lace was becoming increasingly popular – pillow lace became a difficult commodity to sell. To make matters worse, most women and girls making lace would sell through a dealer and would thus receive next to nothing for their hard work. Even though Ruth didn’t master lace making she did have success cleaning it and I will refer back to this when I next need to clean my own lace pieces.
The other local industry that caught my interest was market gardening. I was very interested to learn how this was organised through co-operatives with leaflets from the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries giving advice. If you enjoyed The Edwardian Farm then I don’t have to convince you of this book’s merits, but even if you didn’t watch the series, I think this book is a great display of Experimental Archaeology/History and still makes for a great read.

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