Posted By Claire on October 13, 2009
My family and I have just been enjoying a wonderful series on the UK’s BBC2 Channel – “The Victorian Farm”. It was a fabulous historical documentary service which transfixed our whole family (ages 7-late30s) with its look at life on a Victorian farm. We all learned so much from this programme and I’m going to share this knowledge with you in a series of blogs.
The key to the success of this programme is that it wasn’t just a documentary telling you about the Victorian age, it was more of a reality show and that’s why it got us hooked!
Historian Ruth Goodman and archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn travelled back in time to spend a whole calendar year living as Victorian farmers – dressing as Victorians, living like Victorians, using Victorian methods of farming, cooking and doing domestic chores etc. – and we the viewers could get to see what life was really like and how they coped with it.
Would Ruth, Alex and Peter be able to hack it? Could they make a success of their farm?
The Victorian Farm Project
The Victorian Farm project took place on the Acton Scott estate in Shropshire, England. This estate is run by Mr Stackhouse Acton and his son Rupert and is, as BBC2 described it, “a world frozen in time”. The Acton family have lived on the estate since the 12th century and take pride in their family history. Mr Thomas Acton is a Victorian farming enthusiast and runs his own historic working farm to preserve traditional farming techniques and rural crafts. The farm also uses traditional breeds of farm animals and Victorian tools, machinery and implements. The Acton Estate was the perfect location for the three intrepid novice Victorian farmers to learn their “trade”!
Ruth, Alex and Peter were going to transform a property on the estate into a working Victorian farm, learning from people like Mr Acton and other Victorian experts and enthusiasts, and from their farming “Bible” – “The Book of the Farm” by Henry Stephens. Their aim was to live off the land like true Victorian farmers and weather all of the challenges that life in the Victorian times would throw at them. It was a chance to rediscover a lost world and to educate the public by showing them what real Victorian life was like – addictive viewing!
Further Reading and Information
- The Victorian Farm DVD – The Victorian Farm series is available in the UK on DVD – click here or on the DVD cover to buy now or for further information.
- The Victorian Farm book, to accompany the series, is available from Amazon UK or Amazon US.
- Read my next posts for information on each episode of the series.