BBC Two announces Tudor Monastery Farm

Date: 08.08.2013     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 18.08
Category: BBC Two; Factual
Following the long-running success of BBC Two’s living history series, Victorian, Edwardian and Wartime Farm, this autumn BBC Two takes up residence in the stunning medieval landscape of Weald and Downland Open Air Museum in Chichester to explore life on a Tudor Monastery Farm, complete with the greatest variety of 15th and 16th century buildings in the country.

Archaeologist Peter Ginn and historian Ruth Goodman, who is also a leading specialist in Tudor domestic life, return to front this six-part series. They are joined for the first-time by archaeologist Tom Pinfold to take on the role of the lay-folk who did the bulk of the farming and craftwork within monastic lands.

The team is turning the clock back to the year 1500 – a great turning point in British history. After centuries of war and plague, the nation was enjoying newfound stability and prosperity under the reign of its first Tudor King, Henry VII. But it also marked the last decades of the monastic system that had controlled every aspect of life for centuries.

For almost a 1000 years monasteries dominated the British landscape and were at the heart of the way medieval life was organised. Up to a quarter of the landed wealth in the Kingdom belonged to the Church and much of it was rented to farmers like Peter, Tom and Ruth.

From sheep farming and harvesting to fashioning a printing press and building a Tudor clock, the team will be put through their paces to give viewers a real-life account of what life would have been like at this time.

Tackling not just a new era but also a whole new way of life, scrupulous contemporary record-keeping and the latest archaeological finds will allow the team to pull this long-forgotten world into focus, and explore the whole of early Tudor-life in microcosm.

As well as showing the operations of day-to-day life, the series will explore the intricacies of social structure: at the relationship between the lay workforce and the inner sanctum, and between the wider world and the whole monastic community.

David Upshal, Lion TV Executive Producer, says: “We are delighted to be continuing with a new Farm series for BBC Two, taking us back to the earliest point in history we have tackled yet. Following the huge success of the Victorian, Edwardian and Wartime Farms, the new series will see us produce our 50th episode in this on-going, immersive living-history adventure."

Lion Television will produce the 6 x 60-minute series.

The series is a co-commission between Martin Davidson, BBC History and Business and Aaqil Ahmed, Religion & Ethics.

JB