Dorchester Pottery

Life in Dorchester and rural Dorset in the early Victorian period?

For a question in my homework i have to answer 'Find out about life in Dorchester and in rural Dorset in the early Victorian Period'. However I've searched everywhere on the internet and there is no information at all on this.
I was wondering if anyone had any sources or general knowledge on this?
I need to know about the farms and work and what they did for fun. I need to do a whole a4 page on this so i need several paragraphs of info. Can anyone help me please? thank you :)

Farmers lived in substantial farmhouses which, in addition to living quarters, had rooms for baking, brewing, and a dairy for making butter and cheese. the farmer's wife was usually in charge of these activities, but a dairymaid might be employed specifically to do the butter and cheesemaking. the farmhouse was home to many people, the farmer and his family, his servants, and, occasionally, a number of unmarried farmworkers who lived in.

Farm labourers, who worked for the farners, lived in small cottages which might have only one bedroom. On average about six people lived in a labourer's cottage. Beds were shared, or the family lay on straw pallets on the floor, a curtain dividing the parents from the children. There was usually a privy at the bottom of the garden, one privy might be shared between two or three households. The family would have a rainbut to collect water, and would fetch any additional water needed from the village pumps or wells, the women carrying the water in pails suspended from a yoke over their shoulders.

The majority of the family's wages was spent on food and rent. the one hot meal was eaten when the men came back from work in the evening. The staple food was bread, adults ate around 11 pounds each a week, and half the weekly wage might be spent on it. At harvest time the cost was alleviated because the women and children went gleaning - picking up ears of wheat that had been missed by the horse-rake. it was hard work starting at sunrise and ending at sunset, but in a good year the family could make up a fair stack over a fortnight. After threshing the wheat at home, the grain was taken to the miller for grinding. Vegetables were grown in the garden, and a pig might be kept to fatten up for winter and then slaughtered, to provide a supply of bacon, ham, chitterling etc. Some food could be had for free, like nuts and berries which might be gathered by women and children.

Coal was expensive, so people gathered whatever they could get locally for fuel, ranging from wood to goarse and heather.

Farm labourers often combined their work with other occupations, like metalworking, woodwork or pottery. this was because farm work was seasonal and could be arranged around other trades. the blacksmith, who made horseshoes, sharpened ploughshares, manufactured and repaired tools, and made nails,
was an important rural craftsman.

Women and children worked from home in a number of cottage industries. knitting, straw plaiting and lacemaking were all important cottage industries, and in Dorset button making was particularly important, the buttons were made from horn from dorset sheep.

village shops were not common at this time, and for things that could not be made at home or by locsl craftsmen, coutry people relied on itinerant traders like the cheapjack, who sold items like crockery, cooking pots, guns, tools and watches. the tinker mended pots and pans and sharpened
Knives and razors. the most common itinerant in the countryside was the pedlar. pedlars wandered the rural highwayd selling sewing items such as wool, pins, needles, and buttons, ribbons, mirrors, combs, and cheap toys.

hiring fairs, where farm labourers looked for work, were still going on in the Victorian era, Thomas Hardy describes one in the Mayor of Casterbridge, and in Far From the Madding Crowd. the fair was not just for business, there would be amusements there too, jugglers and acrobats and oddities like a bearded lady or a calf with two heads.

The big celebration of the rural year was the Harvest supper, where the farmer would give a substantial meal for his farmworkers. A harvest supper is described in Far From the amadding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. On ordinary days, men might go to the pub for a drink after work, it was a place to socialise, and play games like cribbage,quoits and skittles. Women did not normally frequent pubs, but would get together in informal groups to socialise. Young people might get up an informal dance in a barn or on the village green, and children played the old games of hide and seek, tag, blind man's buff etc.

Most people went to church on Sundays, even if they were not particularly religious, as it was expected. in the early Victorian era, many churches still had an orchestra, made up of local people playing instruments. Later these orchestras were replaced by organs, this is the subject of Thomas Hardy's novel Under the Greenwood Tree.

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