Friday, 10 April 2009

Ingatestone: Rural Life in 1913

An extract from 'Ingatestone and the Great Essex Road' with Fryerning by Mrs E E Wilde (Humphrey Milford Oxford University Press, 1913) p404-405

The two final paragraphs of a chapter entitled ‘Yesterday’

"Great changes have passed over our farms since the Roman times, but always we have been a great corn-growing district, although with the present low price of corn it has become more profitable to the farmer to keep herds of cows to supply London with milk, and to fat bullocks for the local trade. But the greatest change is the supplanting of human labour by machines; there is hardly a farmer who does not reap his corn with a self-binder, and in a few years it seems likely no men will be found able to handle a scythe. With the advance of the machine has disappeared the gleaner – so familiar a sight in the cornfields in old days.

"Many of the older women recount with pride how many bushels of corn they and their children would glean at harvest-time. Some of them had it thrashed at home by their husbands and sons with flails, but this gave way to the thrashing-machine, the farmers allowing them to have their gleanings thrashed, and then it was ground at the old mill on Mill Green. Practically no one in the parish goes gleaning to-day. Perhaps the children are not so industrious, or so obedient to their parents; certainly there is less corn to pick up; but the memory of the gleaning days is recalled as we pass some of the fields of the older farmers, and see a solitary trave standing, a sign to the gleaners that the farmer has not yet raked, and they must not enter."

No comments: