Metfield Parish and Poor in the Late Eighteenth Century
By Victor Peskett
What was life like for the rural poor in 18th century England? Just as new agricultural technology was replacing farm workers with machines, medical advances were improving life expectancy. The result in rural Suffolk was a scarcity of employment that left many without the means to support themselves or their families. In this fascinating glimpse into community action at a local level, Victor Peskett reveals the workings of the Guardians of the Poor in Metfield, a village committee with powers to levy a charge on the community and, after close examination, disperse funds to support the poor, according to their needs and their means.
Peskett’s painstaking research into the minutes of the Guardians’ meetings has uncovered not the dry transactions of a local administrative committee, but an illumination of the past two short centuries ago. From the old vellum-bound, hand-written record emerge characters we come to know – their clothes, their few possessions, their daily transactions and their squabbles but, most of all, their urgent and basic needs at a time when progress seemed to be leaving them behind. Where to buy>>
This title is now available as an audiobook, so you can listen to it in the car or on your phone, tablet, computer or other MP3 device. The book is beautifully read by Kate Shrewsday. Profits go to Metfield Church.
You can download the audiobook here.
Pulled by Horses: A Memoir of Metfield, Suffolk in the 1930s
By Evelyn Whiting
In the Metfield of the 1930s you could do all of your shopping without leaving the village, have a choice of pubs and ‘spend happy evenings helping to dig potatoes and listening to the old boys.’
If this sounds too idyllic to be true, Evelyn Whiting’s charming memoir of growing up in this Suffolk community is quick to remind readers that making a living from the land was hard and tedious work in those days. There was no electricity and water came from the sky, or from the pond.
In this fascinating little book, Evelyn’s recollection is sharp and her narrative voice is clear. As readers we draw near – perhaps, as it were, by the fire in the Red Lion or the Old Duke William – to hear her retell her stories of the Metfield characters she remembers so well, and recall a way of life that most of us have never known. Where to buy>>
Apr 2017: Adding paperback sales and ebook downloads, Pulled by Horses has now achieved a readership of more than 2,600. Evelyn would have been tickled pink. Where to buy>>