Edwardian Farm: The hard graft of country life

Wednesday 10 November 2010, 12:00

Ruth Goodman Ruth Goodman

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Our Edwardian Farm year is over! We have packed up the cottage, sent the animals off to their new homes and said a reluctant goodbye to all the many local people who so generously helped us.

But although it's over for the farming team and the crew - you can join us at the very beginning when the new series airs tonight on BBC Two.

Peter Ginn, Alex Langlands and Ruth Goodman in Edwardian Farm

It has been such a full year, hardly time to breathe let alone think. Alex Langlands, Peter Ginn and I are now quite a long standing team. Having lived through a 1620s year for Tales Of The Green Valley and then an 1880s year for Victorian Farm together we know each other well and have all ended up with our own interests and responsibilities.

This year we moved the filming to Devon, at Morwellham Quay, and while the action is based primarily on the farm, the new location allowed us to explore other aspects of the working countryside, including rivers, coasts and mining.

Peter's soft spot this year was for his fish. When it was suggested that we should have a go at hatching and raising trout for the sport fishing trade, Alex and I were rather sceptical, but Peter got stuck in immediately.

The odd contraption in the woods was regularly fiddled with and lovingly supplied with fresh juicy maggots throughout the summer. I don't know who was most surprised at its success, Peter or us.

Alex arrived for the year with his own cockerel - Sunny - under one arm, determined to make a go of poultry farming. My, was that cockerel pampered.

Ruth Goodman on her bike

As we accurately portray the life of the era and the roles played by men and women, I always get the domestic work, which whilst it does mean loads of cleaning and washing also means that I get to do loads of cooking and making things, both of which I really enjoy.

Ooh the food of this region has been a joy - scrummy and interesting. I also got a bike - wheeeeeee!!! The freedom, the speed, you have no idea of the sense of liberation.

Around the farm Peter supplied the most astonishing amount of muscle. Think you need a machine to do that job? Ha! Call Peter! It is not possible to overstate just how physical Edwardian country life was.

We have certainly all worked our socks off, farming, mining, scrubbing, fishing, a thousand and one jobs. Definitely worth it though, we have had a great year, so interesting, loads of fun and wonderful, wonderful people.

Ruth Goodman is a participant in Edwardian Farm.

Edwardian Farm is on BBC Two at 8pm on Wednesday, 10 November.

For further programme times, please visit the upcoming episodes page.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    I think David Upshalls response (24) to asteroid's comment (2) about the pronunciation of Morwellham is a bit of a fudge. Of course you have to try to please everyone, but people tend to adopt the BBC gospel and renaming places rides roughshod over centuries of tradition. Five miles away in Tavistock, where I grew up, they call it Mor-well-ham. I even know one or two of the local characters who pop up on your programme and they call it Mor-well-ham. The same was true of my great aunt and she lived of the village of Mor-well-ham. That's what it's called.

    Time to fess up, David, you got it wrong! Otherwise, wonderful programme. Intelligent and good fun - but keep the fudge in the sweet shop please!

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    I enjoy the series but as in the Victorian Farm they drink cider from pewter tankerds.
    I have always belived that the cider reacted with the lead in the pewter and that cider was / is drunk from horn, china or glass vessels.

  • Comment number 63.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    to Gazehounds post on pewter - the acidic nature of cider does leach out the lead content in pewter more readily than ale, but the use of lead in pewter was not removed until the 1970s. pewter being more hardwearing than ceramics it seems likely its use would have been standard. for a longwhile some cider makers stored their cider in lead lined casks. in my experience pewter does nothing to tarnish the flavour.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    your series is one of the best i have ever seen on the bbc. thank you. from a fellow history nut / archaeologist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    To DM1605:

    Ruth mentioned that oil is a good natural remedy for nits or lice as they have a porous outer body that absorbs the oil and kills them - I'm not sure if this works for the eggs, too? Angela

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    Dear Ruth, Alex and Peter

    First, many thanks for a really entertaining, instructive and eye-opening series. I am now 61 and remember my grandmother regularly cooking sheep’s brains in her pressure cooker for dinner and so the recipes shown brought back many memories.

    However, the item that really jogged my memory was the piece on mining and especially the work involved in drilling and blasting. I come from a long line of Yorkshire miners and the piece brought back the story of my great great grandfather who had emigrated in the mid nineteenth century to the Pennsylvania coalfields.

    He was a shot firer and, as you made clear for the Cornwall miners, like them he had to buy his necessaries from the mining company - black powder etc. However, in his day, they had no nice fuse wire as was shown last night. Instead, in those days (and, I suspect, in Devon and Cornwall at the time), he made his own fuses from straw infused with black powder. To make a fuse the straw was knotted and it often went out once lit.

    One day, he thought his fuse had gone out, went to investigate and arrived at the firing hole at the same time as the flame from the fuse - he had tied a large knot and it had taken so long to burn through it that he thought the fuse had failed when it hadn't. He was killed in the subsequent explosion and his family returned to the UK otherwise, I might be an American!

    Finally, the item also triggered a thought - what came first, the Phoenicians looking for tin or a tin industry already so established that the Phoenicians heard of it from the middlemen who sold it to them in the Mediterranean and who tried to cut those middlemen out by buying direct from the source - a basis for a new series tracing trade through metals perhaps?

    Good luck with the next series, what ever it is

    Steve Oakley
    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    First of all, many thanks to all the team, and to the very hard-working presenters. Wonderful, entertaining and extremely interesting - it really gives one a taste of the past.
    Episode 6 had a travelling salesman, with some extraordinary wares (loved the teasmade). However, he had one wrong item. His "bird imitator" was in fact a medical instrument, still in manufacture, well-known even to today's ENT surgeons - it is called a Barany Noise Box. It is used to "occupy" one ear with loud sound while testing the other. I suppose it might imitate a bird...!
    Carry on the good work!

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    Programs like these are increasingly rare jewels amongst the mass of inane "reality tv" shows. My father grew up on an Edwardian farm and he is having a wonderful nostalgia ride with this series. I hope the BBC will give the nod to further projects like this - The Victorian Country Village perhaps?

    For those of you too young to remember, there were three excellent series on the BBC about twenty years ago called "The Victorian Garden" - they are available on DVD and are much recommended to fans of Victorian Farm and Edwardian Farm.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Thank you to Ruth & all the team. It really is a pleasure watching the programme every week, demonstrating how things were done in the past & the seasonal events taking place. It was especially lovely to see Ruth's daughter join this week as well. Shame about the egg blowing for the easter celebrations on this evening's programme! I'll miss the programme after the end of the series. Thank you so much Ruth & team for the enjoyment & pleasure you've brought into our homes each week.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    I know Ruth from her work at the Weald and Downland Museum in West Sussex. She patiently demonstrates how to make period costumes to the historic needlework group there, and as months go on, more and more of us complete our projects using methods and materials appropriate to the time, and then interpret the museum buildings wearing the clothing of the period. Thanks, Aunty, for another great series and many thanks to Ruth and the boys.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    A very interesting series.
    My home was once a Tamar Valley market garden (in Cornwall and not a stones throw from Morwellham). Its been nice to get some insight into how it would have been when it first started. As I understand it though we had a lot of glasshouses and grew tomatoes up until the 1970's.

    We still have the old prep room and the outside toilet.

    I always did wonder why we had so many strawberres coming up in the garden each year when I first moved here. Now I suspect I know , we grew atrawberries where the garden now is.

    Thank you for the insight into how things ran.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    I dont know what to say, tonites program is a discrace, you can't proclaim a stickleback to a brown trout its wrong.
    I also question the legality of having the shoddy built hatchery on a stream, by allowing the fish to leave the hatchery and enter a river is a illegal offence under the salmon and freshwater fisheries act 1975.
    I shouldent worry though becuase due to the high amount of silt that you allowed to kill the trout will stop them from escaping and as for any that that didnt KILL there is always the fact you did not feed the fry, there will be no natrual food in that box you created because it is not a river bed. not properly feeding fish also is against animal welfare regulations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    Would it be possible for short bio's of the team to be posted (without being too personal?) My husband is the image of Peter Ginn, he was adopted and is always looking for his half brother. His ethnicity is not completely English - he has Turkish/Greek roots. I am wondering if Mr. Ginn is of the same ethnicity?

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    Sorry, forgot to ask of David Upshal - whilst growing up in Orpington, Kent a friend whose mother was an English teacher lived a little way down the road. I am wondering if this is the same David Upshal? Is is a small world, that is for sure.
    Whether it is or not, must say this program is much overdue and very welcome.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    Does anyone know what the name of Alex's hat is? And where you might get one from?

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    Thoroughly enjoying this series here in the States. I have a smallholding and though we are vegetarian and probably wont be boiling any sheep's heads soon I have thoroughly enjoyed watching you do it. Boys are gorgeous, Ruth is a firecracker. Your floor washing puts me to shame..time to get out the brush! As a period reinactor and historical educator myself, I understand the fun of doing everything from costuming to recipes to farming the old ways. I inherited my great grandfathers draft harness, a real treasure. Thanks for all you have done, looking forward to the next period series!

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    Recipe for the cut-rounds please. Are they the same as Devon splits?

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    Have wached all the series of Victorian Farm and now the Edwardian Farm. Is it possible to have the recipe for the CUT ROUNDS.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    I have also watched the complete series and thoroughly enjoyed it. Can I also request a copy of the recipe for the CUT ROUNDS please? The research I have done has recipes only using yeast,


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