Category Archives: 1800’s

The Painful Plough by Roy Palmer

ppThe 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

rp---bhA 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.

William Barnes’ The Leane

Tim Laycock read this delightful poem about enclosure written in a Dorset dialect at the Bridport show last week.

“The children will soon have no place
for to play in and if they do grow
they will have a thin mushroom face
with their bodies so sumple as dough”


The Leane.

They do zay that a travellèn chap
Have a-put in the newspeäper now,
That the bit o’ green ground on the knap
Should be all a-took in vor the plough.
He do fancy ’tis easy to show
That we can be but stunpolls at best,
Vor to leäve a green spot where a flower can grow,
Or a voot-weary walker mid rest.
Tis hedge-grubbèn, Thomas, an’ ledge-grubbèn,
Never a-done
While a sov’rèn mwore’s to be won.

The road, he do zay, is so wide
As ’tis wanted vor travellers’ wheels,
As if all that did travel did ride
An’ did never get galls on their heels.
He would leäve sich a thin strip o’ groun’,
That, if a man’s veet in his shoes
Wer a-burnèn an’ zore, why he coulden zit down
But the wheels would run over his tooes.
Vor ’tis meäke money, Thomas, an’ teäke money,
What’s zwold an’ bought
Is all that is worthy o’ thought.

Years agoo the leäne-zides did bear grass,
Vor to pull wi’ the geeses’ red bills,
That did hiss at the vo’k that did pass,
Or the bwoys that pick’d up their white quills.
But shortly, if vower or vive
Ov our goslèns do creep vrom the agg,
They must mwope in the geärden, mwore dead than alive,
In a coop, or a-tied by the lag.
Vor to catch at land, Thomas, an’ snatch at land,
Now is the plan;
Meäke money wherever you can.

The childern wull soon have noo pleäce
Vor to plaÿ in, an’ if they do grow,
They wull have a thin musheroom feäce,
Wi’ their bodies so sumple as dough.
But a man is a-meäde ov a child,
An’ his limbs do grow worksome by plaÿ;
An’ if the young child’s little body’s a-spweil’d,
Why, the man’s wull the sooner decaÿ.
But wealth is wo’th now mwore than health is wo’th;
Let it all goo,
If’t ’ull bring but a sov’rèn or two.

Vor to breed the young fox or the heäre,
We can gi’e up whole eäcres o’ ground,
But the greens be a-grudg’d, vor to rear
Our young childern up healthy an’ sound,
Why, there woont be a-left the next age
A green spot where their veet can goo free;
An’ the goocoo wull soon be committed to cage
Vor a trespass in zomebody’s tree.
Vor ’tis lockèn up, Thomas, an’ blockèn up,
Stranger or brother,
Men mussen come nigh woone another.

Woone day I went in at a geäte,
Wi’ my child, where an echo did sound,
An’ the owner come up, an’ did reäte
Me as if I would car off his ground.
But his vield an’ the grass wer a-let,
An’ the damage that he could a-took
Wer at mwost that the while I did open the geäte
I did rub roun’ the eye on the hook.
But ’tis drevèn out, Thomas, an’ hevèn out.
Trample noo grounds,
Unless you be after the hounds.

Ah! the Squiër o’ Culver-dell Hall
Wer as diff’rent as light is vrom dark,
Wi’ zome vo’k that, as evenèn did vall,
Had a-broke drough long grass in his park;
Vor he went, wi’ a smile, vor to meet
Wi’ the trespassers while they did pass,
An’ he zaid, “I do fear you’ll catch cwold in your veet,
You’ve a-walk’d drough so much o’ my grass.”
His mild words, Thomas, cut em like swords, Thomas,
Newly a-whet,
An’ went vurder wi’ them than a dreat.

The Sound Of History by Roy Palmer

sound of historyThe 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.

This Land Is Our Land by Marion Shoard

marionThis Land Is Our Land
by Marion Shoard

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.

Tolpuddle Man by Graham Moore

Graham Moore has written a number of brilliant songs about historical figures and events including one about Tom Paine and this one about the Tolpuddle Martyrs who got on the wrong side of the establishment for starting a workers’ union in the 1830’s.

His album is really good and can be bought from the usual suspects – iTunes, CD Baby and Amazon.

He seems to be without website at the moment and I need to check to see if he minds me posting some lyrics up here.

In the meantime have a listen to this –

I set my friend Tim Graham the challenge of learning one of Graham’s songs about the Tolpuddle Martyrs called ‘Road To Dorchester’ and this is what he came up with:

The Long Affray: The Poaching Wars in Britain by Harry Hopkins

The Long Affray by Harry HopkinsThe Long Affray: The Poaching Wars in Britain
by Harry Hopkins

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 People’s History Of England by A.L. Morton

A People's History Of England by A.L. MortonA People’s History Of England
by A.L. Morton

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

hydraThe 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

 

Books on Peterborough and The Fens

pboroHere 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