General interest

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.

Georgian market town doorcase

For Mary Hardy, local society consisted of clerics, lawyers, surgeons, schoolteachers, grocers, farmers, millers and brewers

Mary Hardy’s circle

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 50-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 them in a new light. The side and back views of these houses 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.