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 121.

    Really enjoying this series, the mix of trades, crafts lost skills is great. At last a series that does not have an underlying note for us to aspire to make us think we need improving by all becoming middle class, office working, dinner party giving, rat racers...indeed it shows a real respect for the working class history...even though these occupations were very hard, there was a pride people could take in themselves.

    I have traced my history of my family being Farmer / Butchers from 1539 (at least) up until 1952. I have a lot of information on them as village Butchers in the 18thc..
    then moving the business to London in 1822. The family married Butchers, Tripe Dressers and beef farmers, a complete family business network of animals from the field to the table.
    Would LOVE to see something based on this town & country connection...perhaps late 18thc.

    Keep up the EXCELLENT work chaps...and I just hope Ruth gets the occasional chance to moisturize (21st century product style) her hands with all that scrubbing etc

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    brilliant series.. cant wait to see what they do next..

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    My only complaint was that the BBC ruined it for me messing around with the showing times and dates. I guess I can watch on i-player but it did miff me somewhat.

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    Have just watched last episode of Edwardian Farm and feel sad that it's over. What a wonderful programme. Totally captivating and therapeutic whilst making one appreciate how hard life was then. So very refreshing compared to 'modern' programmes and 'sane' camerawork too. Well done to Ruth, Peter and Alex for their enthusiasm. Please let there be more of the same. Much more...

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    Have just watched the final episode on i player (we have no other way of getting television) and I don't give a stuff about all the niggles Serious Historians have about this sort of reality history - this, like the previous two (Green Valley, Victorian Farm) has been absolutely fantastic- and has got me through this cold, hard winter. The team rightly stress the hardship and precariousness of our forefathers' lives and don't fall into the trap of romanticising it all, but the photography for me gives it all away; our forefathers lives were better-lived lives despite the fears of destitution that hung all around and that are not touched on in the series. Most of us are warm and well-fed, without having to think about how and where our comforts have come from, and most of us would find the grind and difficulties of the Edwardian age insupportable. Moreover, the people living then would probably have grabbed the comfort and ease we have with all the hands at their disposal. But what have we lost along with our acquisition of health and material wealth?
    This series was a showcasing of lost artisanal skills - what small farmer would have commissioned a gold leaf weathervane or picked a basket or two of cherries? - rather than a seriously realistic depiction of most farmers' lives in the early part of the 20th century, but so what? It was beautifully filmed, full of fascinating (and useful) information and has,it is to be hoped. given viewers a sense of where we've come from and where we're going and what we're doing to the world in the process. The last episode rather caught it in a nutshell- machines that did the work of five men but used petrol. Hmm - unemployment and global warming. Life has become easier, but for how long?
    The team has, until now, lived three years of rural life. BBC Wales has had a series, perhaps not seen in the rest of the country, of families living, briefly, the lives of miners and slate quarrymen in the early 20th century. Is it not time this team turned their sights on being miners, cotton weavers, shipbuilders or whatever - the things that took most of our forefathers away from the land and actually shaped the people we are today?

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    Edwardian Farm has been an absolute delight!
    The presenters, the setting and historical detail- simply wonderful.
    Thank you to all- .

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    What a truly wonderful programme! Please can we have more, this is the good old BBC at its very best!
    Thank you!

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    The series just continued to get better and better. Compulsive viewing.

    I missed the name of the weathervane maker but he topped off the farmhouse and the series. A real work of art.

    Thank you all

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    Hi thomad42. The blacksmith's name is Simon Summers and you can find a link to a newspaper article about him here: http://www.thisissouthdevon.co.uk/news/Smithy-Simon-forges-ahead-TV/article-3126983-detail/article.html

    While the series was being filmed Simon was living and working at Morwellham but has now moved to Totnes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    Thoroughly enjoyed this series as we did the previous two. What next, we wonder, for this excellent team?

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    The Edwardian Farm series was brilliant. thought provoking and emotionally involving. it really brought to life an era in history.Illuminating the lives and explaining the trials, tribulations (and joy) of life in that age. The team "living" the life were brilliant, thoroughly engrossed in acting out the yearlong Edwardian farming existance. No praise is too high. More historical re-enactments such as this please, especially from this team.

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    I LOVEDDDDDDDDDDDDDD Victorian Farm and Edwardian Farm. I was amazed at how well Alex, Peter, and Ruth worked as a team, something not heard of here in America. Most of our shows display person(s) who are selfish minded, not-so bright, and are written by people who have virtually no artistic vision at all. I was so inspired by the shows that I actually made it my mission to change the way I live. When I think of all the shows here in America that teach us absolutely nothing, but rather lowers our IQs it makes me skip on watching American shows. My husband and I were teary-eyed to see the last of Alex, Peter, and Ruth. To see divergent thinking at its best was a treat indeed. Ruth, since I've seen the show, I've become a Victorian/Edwardian Chef in my kitchen (cooking from scratch), and I've been putting seaweed in the garden just like you said. My teen son has learned a lot from Peter and Alex and said he wishes they were his teachers at school. My six year old daughter also fell in love with the show because of the animals. We live in the city, and it gets to be annoying with all the pollution, traffic, crime, new age technology, and noise ..............it was nice to break away from the everyday scene and get a chance to look into a time in which people were self-sufficient and environmentally friendly. Also, I would like to add that we enjoyed watching the tradesmen and the crafty women for the insightfully entertaining skills displayed on the show. Thank You BBC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    What a wonderful series. It's such a pleasure to watch presenters who are enthusiastic about what they do, unlike that awful "Rome Wasn't Built in a Day" on C4, which seems to be all about the personal shortcomings of a bunch of incompetent builders. Just imagine what Peter, Alex and Ruth could have made of it instead!

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    Myself and my 4 year old Daughter absolutely loved this series! We are currently working through some of the recipes....the Cut rounds are lovely (the baking powder amount seems a lot, but works) and so simple. The clotted cream didn't work anywhere near as well (not quite worked out why yet)!
    My little girl now wants to watch much more of Ruth and those 'silly boys' as she calls Peter and Alex! What can they do next??

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    Having very much enjoyed Victorian and Edwardian Farm but having missed Tales from the Green Valley I would suggest a possible theme for another series-
    PreHistoric Farm- In which the intrepid trio attempt to survive and prosper in the stone age.
    I could see one of the lads as the hunter-gatherer and the other introducing the new idea of keeping animals and growing crops.
    Ruth would as always be the hardworking organised person who shows us reality
    television at its best.
    From trapping, hunting, building shelters the earliest mining and primitive technology- being able to fashion a flint spear tip or bow and arrow-there is plenty there for a compelling series.
    By way of reward for undertaking such a series perhaps it should be set not in a wet and wintry England but a sunny south of France or similar.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    I like the above John1961 idea, even though I suggested them doing a 'family 18thc network' exploration of country cousin farmer and city cousin Butcher & Tripe Dresser.
    Including a Grazier cousin.
    Perhaps not a stone age series though, but that little looked at - long period in between the stone age and the Iron age. The Bronze age. There was a 1970s series set in the iron age...but they were an isolated group and plagued with health problems & over earnest hippie-ness


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