Victorian era may be the idealised
stuff of romantic novels, but how
would 21st Century folk fare if they went back to basics?
Ruth Goodman, Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn take up the challenge
of living as Victorian farmers for a full year with no mod cons
for the television series Victorian Farm...
ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO there was no electricity and no running water
a coal range provided warmth and heat for water and cooking and tasks after dark
were carried out by candlelight or oil lamps. No cars, no home comforts and yet
the Victorians knew no other way of life.
How will Ruth Goodman
who specialises in domestic history and archaeologists Alex Langlands and
Peter Ginn cope with the hard work, long hours, no flushing toilets, no electric
lights, gas or motor vehicles and no local Sainsbury's to nip to in times of crisis?
The television series Victorian Farm documents the four seasons during
which the three volunteers bravely turn back the clock to face farming life in
the 19th Century when there were no modern machines or cleaning chemicals.
fifty years ago, Glebe Farm was a busy working farm in the Victorian age with
15 acres of land. It is now something of a time capsule where little has changed
for a century. The farm is on the Acton Scott Estate, which has been home to Thomas
Stackhouse Acton's family since 1255 and which covers 1,500 acres of Shropshire
Thomas Stackhouse Acton is a Victorian farming enthusiast
who has spent his life collecting old agricultural tools and machinery. His son
Rupert manages the estate and will be the land agent for the year ahead while
Ruth, Alex and Peter renovate and live in a small, dilapidated farm worker's cottage
that has not been lived in since the 1950s and it shows.
project will bring the farm back to life as it would have been in the 1880s.
Victorian Farm represents a unique journey back in time as Ruth, Alex and Peter
devote a year of their lives to recreating life in a 19th Century rural environment.
Although specialists are on hand to teach them the ancient skills of farming,
the three are very much hands-on and follow the guidelines in the Victorian farmer's
bible The Book Of The Farm, by Henry Stephens, that was first published
Enduring the depths of Winter and relishing the warm Summer month,
wearing the clothes, eating the food and experiencing the day-to-day life of rural
Victorians, the three presenters of Victorian Farm uncover a forgotten
world from an age long passed from the very first day that they arrive at the
farm in September with their cart piled high with their belongings.
Alex and Peter rear Victorian breeds of animals, grow traditional crops and utilise
the crafts and skills of the age. It was a time of agricultural revolution in
Britain with the industrialisation of farming wiping out the old ways. Farm workers
would be up early and working until the sun went down. The perfect replica of
rural 19th Century England, Victorian Farm is an enthralling 'fly on the
wall' look at the way our forefathers structured their lives.
on the role of farmer's wife, responsible for the dairy and poultry, food preparation
and cooking, preserving fruit and the back-breaking work involved with the laundry
where she will use ancient remedies to remove stains. Her mainstay is Eliza Acton's
recipe book and she learns fast. She is looking forward to the highlight of the
year preparing and sharing a Christmas feast and enjoying the love of the
past, the nostalgia and the sentimentality so embraced by the Victorians.
has to build a weatherproof pig sty and he and Alex learn the importance of the
Shire horse, planting and harvesting, animal husbandry, bee-keeping, tree felling
and driving steam engines and operating period machinery. They live the complete
authentic experience, wearing period costumes and using only the tools and materials
that were available at the time.
Initially a daunting task, the team rises
to the challenge of looking after and breeding animals ranging from heavy horses
and bulls to pigs and turkeys; learning how to rotate, plough, harrow, sow and
harvest crops and also repair any damage to their own property, stretching their
carpentry, stone masonry and plastering skills to the limit.
era was pivotal in bringing the modern technology of the cities to the traditional
world of the countryside. Over a short time, the traditional crafts and ways of
doing things were eventually outmoded and replaced by mechanisation.
narrator of Victorian Farm is Stephen Noonan; Photography is by Chris Vile
des Seale; the Original Music is by Matthew Winch & Andy Hamilton; The Director
of Production is Shahana Meer; the Executive Producer for Lion Television is David
Upshal and the series is Produced and Directed by Stuart Elliott.
This fascinating look into a bygone era will be released on DVD on 2 March 2009,
courtesy of Acorn Media, following its TV debut on 8 January 2009 at the start
of a six-week run. Catalogue No: AV9699 | Running Time: 360 minutes | RRP: £19.99.
"The perfect replica of rural 19th Century England, Victorian Farm
is an enthralling 'fly on the wall' look at the way our forefathers structured
their lives" Maggie Woods, MotorBar