Filed under famines

Jefferson on Agriculture

18th century England was a country in turmoil. Famines, low wages and land enclosures meant that people who had lived in the same area for generations were struggling to survive, and many fled to the cities or the colonies. People wanted to live in the cities where wages were higher. Across the pond, the reverse … Continue reading

Meat for the Poor

This is an article from the Bristol newspaper: “In compassion of the poor and in order to reduce the present exorbitant price of shambles meat, which is judged to be so much advanced as by combination and forestalling, a plan has been sett afoot to raise a fund to purchase live cattle, slay them and … Continue reading

Rocks Clattering from their Aprons

The mid 18th century in the West Country of England saw many food riots in the middle of the century. Kingswood is now a suburb of Bristol, but at the time it was a poor country are mostly inhabited by colliers who were generally demonised by the city people, but they were often imposed upon … Continue reading

Grumbling Tummies

Another piece of Bristol history from the 17th century: “About this time was a considerable dearth: different Calendars place it in different ears, in 1520, 21 and 1524. “There was such a scarcity of corn, that wheat was at 4s and 8d a bushel; and bread was made of acorns and fern roots; by reason … Continue reading

The Workhouses of England and Wales

The Workhouses of England and Wales

One of the best known dramatic images in English is probably that of Oliver asking for more, an image of childhood hunger that is indelibly linked to Dickens and his age. But why were the workhouses built, and why was the mid 19th century such a hard time for the poor? To start, there are … Continue reading

Plugging My Books

This is a blatant attempt to tweak a few book sales, as they are just sitting around at home getting on each others’ nerves. I have written 17 books, with another one that needs working on. Theyare mostly local history, but I never do just local – whatever Iwrite about, I always try to place it within a wider … Continue reading

What’s The Collective Noun For Bankers?

This is one of my favourite jokes, in part because it is so subtle. The answer is ‘a wunch’. Bankers have been getting some really bad press lately – and far enough toobut there is a false impression that their greedy unscrupulous behaviour is something new. Of course it is not. Here is another quote … Continue reading

Dovecotes

Dovecotes

These structures were homes for doves, originally built by monks to provide themselves with fresh meat through the winter. But they were long a source of dispute with their peasant tenants, as the birds lived off the grain from their fields, so on top of their normal tithes to the church, they were being indirectly … Continue reading

Name That Tune: Big Ben Chimes

Name That Tune: Big Ben Chimes

Big Ben refers to the clock, the chimes and the tower of the Houses of Parliament. It is the most famous free standing clock tower on earth, and the sound of its bell is truly iconic. But like many famous English things, it is not by an English person. It is from Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus, … Continue reading

Bottlenecks and Balances

Bottlenecks and Balances

I get tired of hearing about the need for a balanced diet, as to most of us this has no real meaning. But  when I first became a vegetarian, whilst battling through the dinosaur traffic to get to university, we were very worried about how to keep up our protein intake, a notion very strong … Continue reading