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ANCIENT CRAFTS

thatching

Miller, Wheelwright, Baker, Smith... not a firm of solicitors, but names derived from ancient trades, so many of which live now only in museums of rural history. When I wrote (with John Tregorran) my book Ambridge, an English Village Through the Ages (now sadly out of print) we summarised a village directory from 1850 listing all these tradesmen within Ambridge and more, including baker, shoe-maker, maltster, and hurdle-maker.

Notable among these tradesmen was John Gabriel the blacksmith. In those days the trade of blacksmith and farrier was combined, and for centuries Gabriels could be called upon to make a ploughshare or to shoe an ox.

Names held nowadays by wealthy families may betray humble origins lost in the mists of history; Pargetter, for example, the modern equivalent of which is a plasterer. How hath the mighty risen!

Fortunately, we still have need for the skills of the thatcher (another humble trade risen to power!) thanks to picturesque buildings such as Glebe Cottage and Nightingale Cottage which still grace the centre of the village. In this picture, taken at Brookfield Farm in 1954, Simon Cooper (another tradesman's surname, of course) tends the roof of one of the farmbuildings.

 

 


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