3. Farm, maltings and brewery

Diary 3  ·  1793–1797  ·  This volume covers the middle years at Letheringsett.

The diarist’s husband William Hardy takes on a brewery apprentice, her nephew Henry Raven. The full text of Henry’s farming and brewing diary is intercut in this volume with Mary Hardy’s abridged record.

The FRONT COVERS of the complete series of Mary Hardy volumes are pictured on the Home page.

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Henry’s diary in its great vellum-covered ledger has 73,000 words—in addition to his aunt’s 500,000 (in this and the other Diary volumes).

A chronicle of unremitting labour

His record is an extraordinary testament to the toil of the men he worked alongside on the farm and in the small maltings and brewery.

Henry and his aunt kept track of the men who journeyed over 100 miles a week by cart to deliver the beer. At the same time the men also had to carry out all the other duties required of the workforce.

Neither Mary Hardy nor Henry Raven wrote with posterity in mind. They logged the activities of the household and workforce, while letting many additional items creep in. We are made aware of illness, debt, politics and war—and occasionally riot—as the backdrop to their lives.

Letheringsett in 1834 by Josiah Manning

Josiah Manning’s map of Letheringsett 1834, detail. The Hardys’ house, where Henry Raven lived for eight years 1792-1800, is the large building in red by the church. The riverside brewery where he worked is in dark grey, across the road. For a year he worked as a floor maltster in the long riverside malthouse. His friend and colleague, the millwright William Gunton Thompson, lived in the small cottage (in red) built against the malthouse east wall. The round brewery reservoir held spring water for brewing liquor  [Cozens-Hardy Collection]

Water for brewing

Henry was a practitioner and eager to learn. He tells us a great deal about the day-to-day demands of running a maltings and brewery. He was rarely out on the road, and worked on the farm only at times of pressure such as harvest.

His aunt fills in the farming gaps for us, although Henry does note what the men were doing in the fields.

Springs abound in the neighbourhood—one of the principal reasons for founding a brewery here in the early eighteenth century. The banner shows spring water gushing from Holt’s Spout Hills at the start of the Frambeck’s short rush down the slopes to Letheringsett.

Henry Raven's diary, May 1794

Henry Raven’s diary for 3- 7 May 1794. On the Tuesday the millwright Thomas Youngman and his lad “came to set waterwheel at liberty”: it had been disconnected for repairs. Installed by William Hardy in 1784, the waterwheel powered the maltings and brewery and from 1787 pumped spring water up to the reservoir on the hill  [Cozens-Hardy Collection]

The watercourses needed constant clearing, and Henry tells us of dredging the main river and scouring the silt from spring water channels. Glaven water was never used for the brews. One of the spring feeds to the brewery, with a holding pond, is seen on Manning’s map (above), running west of the main river.

Beer for the military camp on the coast

Despite the war with France the Hardys’ business continued to prosper. Although a pro-peace Foxite Whig, William Hardy had no hesitation in securing the beer contract for the military camp established on the coast nearby at Weybourne.

Mary Hardy's diary, Militia Dec. 1796

Mary Hardy’s diary. The entries for 7 and 12 December 1796 show meetings at Holt over the augmentation of the Militia. Numbers in the Reserves had to be strengthened to meet the threat of invasion by the French and to supply further men for home defence, thus releasing the Regulars for service overseas. On the 12th those whose names were on the ballot lists subscribed to a form of insurance at the King’s Head in Letheringsett whereby they could buy a substitute if they were drawn. The ballot provoked riots in Norwich  [Cozens-Hardy Collection]

The Hardys and Henry visited the camp frequently to watch the exercises, and the stretched workforce found they had another outlet to service.

The new world of the meeting house

Mary Hardy’s world took on a new dimension: the meeting house. In 1795 she started to attend Methodist meetings regularly in other villages. It was a quest she spearheaded—and one in which her husband rarely joined.

Spiritual salvation was an intensely personal matter, and families frequently worshipped apart.

In that same year she and Henry recorded the wheat famine riots which flared up locally. One of the Hardys’ outlets, the Swan at Sharrington, became the centre of a tussle between the starving poor and the military forces sent to disperse the rioters.

As with the other Letheringsett volumes, the text not included in this abridgment of Mary Hardy’s diary can be found in the separate publication The Remaining Diary of Mary Hardy.

Henry’s diary, and Mary Hardy’s Coltishall diary (in Diary 1), are both unabridged.

Mr Hardy and William went to Weybourne and Sheringham to get the serving the Camp with beer  (Mary Hardy, 1795)