Social History Book Advent Calendar Day 10 – for those with an interest in agriculture

Henry Stephens's Book of the Farm: concise and revised edition by [Langlands, Alex]This one is for all those family historians with agricultural labouring ancestors and for writers of historical fiction who are using a nineteenth century rural setting. The lavish production and copious illustrations also make it ideal for history lovers in general to browse. Henry Stephens’ Book of the Farm, was first published as a guide to mixed farming in the 1840s. It became the handbook used by the historical interpreters working on BBC TV’s Victorian Farm (DVDs of this excellent series are available). One of the presenters, Alex Langlands, had an abridged version of Stephens’ work reprinted to accompany the TV series. He included an introduction and many coloured illustrations that I assume were not in the original. There are also copious line drawings, which may have been part of Stephens’ work. If you require regional farming specifics, you will need to look beyond this book but here is a wonderful general introduction, written at the dawning of the age of agricultural mechanisation. You will find a season by season account of the many and varied duties on a farm. You can learn how swine were fattened, driven and slaughtered and there are clear instructions for forming a dunghill (always useful). There are sections on training sheep dogs, sowing flax and hemp and making butter. Amazon have a ‘look inside’ feature, so you can see the full extent of the contents. A few short chapters in to this lovely book and you will be treading in the footsteps of your farming ancestors – but beware of the dunghills.

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One comment on “Social History Book Advent Calendar Day 10 – for those with an interest in agriculture

  1. […] were all very similar. Farming practices differ according to soil, terrain and climate. The Book of the Farm, that I mentioned earlier in the month, is a general account; you also need something more […]

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