Our books reveal a great deal about the lives of the farming, commercial and working classes in the eighteenth century.
They are designed to appeal to a wide range of people and interests. They include the general reader with a desire to understand the lives of those who shaped the countryside we see today.
Family historians will be able to reach beyond the confines of parish registers and wills to delve into the lives of their forebears.
The books will also satisfy the demands of the specialist in many fields, such as historians of the public house, church and religion, business and transport. With such a rich primary source, the volumes provide solid material for the student, the researcher and the full-time academic.
How easy was it for men and women, including the poor, to get about? What forms of transport did they use? Where did they shop? Did they worship just in their parish church, or try what was on offer further afield?
How much annual holiday did working people take, including maidservants? Who gave local leadership during riots? With this resourceful family we learn how things worked in the past.
Mary Hardy’s circle
The Norfolk diarist Mary Hardy came from a comfortably-off family of small farmers and village shopkeepers. She recorded in detail the world of work of her husband, son and their team on their 56-acre farm and in their commercial maltings and brewery.
With this diarist, gentility and polite society are not to the fore. Her social circle consisted of anyone from the impoverished curate and itinerant preacher to the struggling innkeeper.
We meet the ploughman and harvester, the craftsman and washerwoman, as well as the surgeon, miller and milliner.
Behind the Georgian frontage
As we walk round the Georgian market towns of today, with their elegant doorcases and handsome sash windows, we can begin to see these buildings in a new light. The side and back views are often irregular, with vestiges of a less ordered architectural past.
The diarist tells us of the hardships and uncertainties facing the men and women who lived behind these doors. Hers was an age blighted by illness, premature death, debt, high taxes, and ever-present war and threats of invasion.
Mary Hardy quickly dispels any notions we may have that life was stable, secure and unchanging.