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Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Village Life One Hundred Years Ago

by Neil Hotson

The morning started with the theft of a bicycle, value £5 (£400 at today's rate) from outside the saddler's shop. The thief could expect to be pursued to the next village and beyond by the village constable, determined to apprehend the offender.

Further down the High Street a load of straw is delivered outside the big house. It is spread over the road to deaden the noise of cartwheels as there is someone very ill in the house.

On the other side of the village a funeral procession, comprising a Washington carriage and a lesser carriage, each pulled by a pair of horses, moves slowly towards the churchyard. The houses en route shutter their windows or pull down their blinds as a mark of respect.

That afternoon the weekly Petty Sessions is held in the upper rooms of the public house. First up before the magistrates is a group of teenagers, charged with "loitering near a place of divine service" as they were caught in a huddle twenty yards from the church last Sunday evening. Next is the dairyman, for watering his milk yet again.

As darkness falls, the slate clubs meet in the various pubs and the regatta committee meet in the village hall to discuss this year's event. The Territorial Army finishes its meeting with a rendition of the National Anthem and the pubs begin to fill up again.

At the crossroads, the policeman wonders how many would "refuse to quit licensed premises" tonight. The estate keepers are concealed in the woods, ready to pounce on night-poachers, and in the big field, the travelling circus, with its elephant and big cats, is resting for the night.

What would the villagers of those days think of our times?


The New Forest by Matthew Conway
Featuring a mixture of history, folklore and stories of interest, this book explores the culture and wildlife of the New Forest. From it deer, which for centuries were hunted exclusively by the Kings of England, to the thousands of trees that were the cornerstone of the English Navy, this fascinating volume illustrates how flora and fauna are interwoven with the forest's heritage, and pays special attention to its wildlife.  As well as providing a backdrop of history, this affectionate look at the forest will inspire readers to explore the area themselves. Read more...


  1. Superb! Generally I never read whole articles but the way you wrote this
    information is simply amazing and this kept my interest.

  2. Thank-you for your kind words. I am a family historian and like to re-create the past using words. Steve has an excellent site here, dedicated to local interest, and it seemed to fit well.
    I have an article about RMS Titanic and Southampton on the net, written in a similar way.

    Neil Hotson

  3. Many thanks Neil for your comment. Love to publish your Titanic article here too.