This book is subtitled English Country Customs through the Ages, and is a reminder that, once upon a time, most of the people of England lived the country. The urbanisation that we recognise is a fairly modern phenomenon that really only pushed forward over the last one hundred years or so. As a result we have all but lost touch with how our ancestors lived. It was a way of life that continued for thousands of years, and proves that living off the land was a skill in itself.
First published in 1979, The Land of England is an fascinating journey through the farming working year and shows how people travelled, shopped and traded. Rather than brief descriptions, the depth of detail and understanding makes for a very interesting read. As it says in the introduction:
This is not a history book, but a ‘documentary’ about people’s life on, and from, the land in the days when most of them were country folk, and powered machines were still to come.
Old farming lore comes to life, and traditions are explained with anecdotes and illustrations. If you love books that are more in-depth, then this book cannot be recommended more.
Dorothy Hartley was one of the first to study the everyday life of working people in previous centuries. She wrote a number of social history books, The Land of England being her last.