Saturday 1 September 2018

Sue - lover of Landscape History 

I’ve always loved  history and particularly landscape history. Exploring how landscapes have changed and in particular the role of people.  For over a decade, I organised the programmes and co-managed  with Lorna Gartside the history conferences for the Sussex Archaeological Society as a volunteer.  By 2018, Lorna and I had the pleasure of greeting 180 people to each one. I also lecture, write articles and I have two publications to tackle.  The first will be a short

book about the Country Houses of the South Downs for the Sussex Archaeological Society and the National Park, due out at the end of 2019. The second will be the subject of a blog in due course. 

I have written mainly about urban, rural and coastal change from between 1680 and 1914, including, where I can find evidence, the life of the poor. 

Sussex is my ‘case study’ area because that is where I live and there is so much we do not know about the past of the county.  But that also applies to all of the others so I hope you will look at some of the work I have done and at the blogs and think about having a go yourself.  You learn a lot about the sources as you go along and, records offices and their ‘friends’ often run sessions on how to get started.  There is a lot of help on the web site of the National Archives at Kew too.

Changes in the countryside are affected by all sorts of factors but one theme which has emerged is just how hard life was for most people who lived in it.  Long hours, low pay and damp crowded homes were the norm for most people for centuries. Many of the houses we see today belonged to the more fortunate or are an amalgam of several cottages.  Most tiny, overcrowded homes went long ago, leaving little or no imprint.

Towns weren’t great either but offered more chances to those with initiative than villages did. Again many folk lived in crowded and insanitary places, often those left by the better off, subdivided in to rooms to let to families. But the chance of betterment was there and particularly in the building, transport sectors and the making of goods such as clothes and furnishings. Buying new things, ‘consumerism’ as we call it now, gave many people their chance and contrary to what we were once taught, drove much of the economy. Just as we see today.  

Enjoy exploring our past, there is much to be researched.