I’ve just finished reading these three excellent booklets about enclosure and the open field system in East Yorkshire… Two were written in late 1950s and the third in the mid eighties. All were thoroughly researched, succinct and insightful.
Some good stuff in these PDF’s by Sing London
Just currently looking at the ‘Petition of the Pigs in Kent’ ballad from the Kent book… https://media.efdss.org/resourcebank/docs/EFDSS_Education_RecentProjects_SingingHistoriesKent.pdf
This article provides a nice example of how we are conditioned to think in a certain way from the youngest age! Greedy factory owner vs the workers and the king has to intervene…
“Changing the story isn’t enough in itself, but it has often been foundational to real changes. Making an injury visible and public is usually the first step in remedying it, and political change often follows culture, as what was long tolerated is seen to be intolerable, or what was overlooked becomes obvious. Which means that every conflict is in part a battle over the story we tell, or who tells and who is heard.” Rebecca Solnit
I have yet to read this book but have it on authority that it will blow my socks off so I thought I might take the step of telling you all about it asap as my backlog of books is somewhat chronic as of late!
I was just sent a message telling me to research Fred Kitchen… his wikipedia page is here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Kitchen… Sounds like a super interesting guy.
I have just found out that Little Toller books is republishing his biography ‘Brother to the Ox’ in a few months time, which is great news as copies are going for silly money on the internet at the moment.
Some interesting brain food here which resonates with much else of what I have read:
“Perelman outlines the many different policies through which peasants were forced off the land—from the enactment of so-called Game Laws that prohibited peasants from hunting, to the destruction of the peasant productivity by fencing the commons into smaller lots—but by far the most interesting parts of the book are where you get to read Adam Smith’s proto-capitalist colleagues complaining and whining about how peasants are too independent and comfortable to be properly exploited, and trying to figure out how to force them to accept a life of wage slavery.”
I have been really enjoying reading a number of pamphlets which I picked up recently from ‘Bristol Radical History Group‘ who seem to do a lot of great work down in the south west.
This one on Anglo-Saxon Democracy is of particular interest, although there are many others which I will write up at some point soon.
These few paragraphs are good food for thought, the italics in the last paragraph are mine:
The Rise of the Church
If the major cause of the retreat of Anglo-Saxon democracy is the increasing use of charters to create bookland beyond the control of the local courts and thus the local community then it also has to be accepted that the use of charters to gain rights and privileges at the expense of the local populace was first introduced by the Roman Catholic church and all of the charters of pre-Conquest England were denrived from the form of the private charter of the later Roman empire. Continue reading
You can buy a lovely edition of the book from Little Toller here – http://littletoller.co.uk/bookshop/nature-classics/the-south-country/ or see a digital version here – https://archive.org/stream/southcountry00thomuoft/southcountry00thomuoft_djvu.txt
255-7 THE END OF SUMMER KENT BERKSHIRE — HAMPSHIRE SUSSEX THE FAIR
The road mounts the low Downs again. The bound-less stubble is streaked by long bands of purple-brown, the work of seven ploughs to which the teams and their carters, riding or walking, are now slowly descending by different ways over the slopes and jingling in the rain. Above is a Druid moor bounded by beech-clumps, and crossed by old sunken ways and broad grassy tracks. It is a land of moles and sheep. Continue reading
A History Of Community Asset Ownership
By Steve Wyler
When my friend Sophie first told me about this book she said ‘Someone has written a book of the show!’
This is a brilliant overview of the last thousand years and what it lacks in a catchy title, it makes up for in compelling prose.
The book can be downloaded free from here as a pdf – http://locality.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/A-History-of-Community-Asset-Ownership_small.pdf or ordered from Locality – http://locality.org.uk/contact/
Owning The Earth
By Andro Linklater
I’m only a little way into this book but am already enjoying it thoroughly. Highly readable and informative.
It brings a global perspective to the story and compares what happened in England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland with other European countries and those further afield.
I will update when I’ve finished it.
The Making of the English Working Class
by E.P. Thompson
Considered a definitive text for many years this book is dense, academically rigorous and utterly superb.
I needed a dictionary, wikipedia and a notebook to get myself through the first quarter but once up to speed with the authors style and concepts, it was as compelling a read as I have ever had.
This book has the advantage of being widely respected across all academic and historical fields in a manner which some of the other books I have read are not.
The Painful Plough
by Roy Palmer
The full title is ‘The Painful Plough: A Portrait of the Agricultural Labourer in the Nineteenth Century from Folksongs and Ballads and Contemporary Accounts’ which pretty much does the job.
It tells the story of Joseph Arch, a farm labourer who went on to start one of the first agricultural labourers unions and eventually to become an MP.
A superb piece of work and a huge source of inspiration for the concept of the show ‘Three Acres And A Cow’.
A Ballad History of England
by Roy Palmer
Roy Palmer has spent much of the last thirty years hunting for ballads and using them to weave together a people’s history of England. He has mastered the art of this in a number of excellent books of which this is a great starting point.
This book is utterly superb and should be bought without hesitation. Each song has a melody and words, along with a page or two giving its historical context.
The Sound Of History
By Roy Palmer
This is an amazing book. Not specifically about land but it has a chapter on the topic.
I cannot stress enough what a legend this man and his writings are. This is not the first book of his you should read but it is certainly one you want on your reading list.
The definitive book on land both past and present, although it has sadly not been updated since the 80’s.
It gets a bit heavy going in places but the first third, which is a history from Roman times to the present, is totally gripping and a must read for anyone interesting in land and land rights.
I had to take quite a few breaks whilst reading it as sections of it made me really angry and/or sad.
Published in 1985, this life changing book was given to me by Sam Lee.
“A beautiful telling of the age-old battle between peasant and landowner where for the price of a rabbit or a pheasant men were murdered, transported as convicts and executed.
This ancient struggle over game was not just about food for the poor poachers and their families, it was about social rank and the power of the landed gentry, the burgeoning class politics of the time and the harsh realities of rural life.”
A leading Marxist historian, book written in 1938. Recommended reading by Roy Palmer.
A.L. Morton’s wikipedia page – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._L._Morton
An absolutely riveting, disturbing and fascinating read which turned my world view of history on its head.
The Many-Headed Hydra
by Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker
This book gives much food for thought, bringing a fresh perspective to number of themes such as slavery and pirates which help put English peasant struggles of the time in a wider context.
Whilst I would highly recommend it, I would also advise with some caution as the scholarship is not as widely respected as it might be.
This review from the Guardian does a good job and it worth a look – http://www.theguardian.com/books/2001/jan/27/historybooks
by Jim Crace
This is the only fiction book I have in this section at the moment and it is a gem.
Set in medieval times, the story concerns a village about to be enclosed for sheep farming.
Here are the books which Hazel Perry brought along to the workshops localising the show for Peterborough…
Free Thinkers and Troublemakers: Fenland Dissenters / Harry Jones / Published by the Wisbech Society & Preservation Trust / ISBN 0951922076
Peterborough: A Story of City and Country, People and Places / (Peterborough City Council, published by Pitkin) / ISBN 1-84165-050-1
From Punt to Plough: A History of the Fens / Rex Sly / The History Press / ISBN 978-0-7509-3398-8
Peterborough (Britain In Photographs) / Lisa Sargood / Budding Books / ISB 1-84015-247-8
Peterborough Through Time (A Second Selection) / June and Vernon Bull / ISBN 978-1-84868-990-9
The Lost Fens / England’s Greatest Ecological Disaster / Ian D Rotherham / ISBN 978-0-7524-8699-4
Peterborough / HF Tebbs / ISBN 0900891300