Sociology

A Social History of the English Countryside by G. E. Mingay

By G. E. Mingay

Lines the increase and fall of rural England from the center a long time to the second one global struggle and the character of the alterations that have happened.

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28 * * * The established medieval community, with its manor house and hierarchy of manorial officials, farmers and cottagers, was typical only of lowland England, and even there many villages lacked a resident lord. Elsewhere there were extensive areas of forest and upland moors and wastes, populated only by scattered hamlets and isolated farmsteads, and by great flocks of sheep producing wool for distant markets, and occasional ‘vaccaries’, or large herds of cattle. Here the land might be controlled by an abbey, but often the manor house and manorial organization were lacking, and an unregulated community was free to look after its own affairs.

Houses increased in size and improved in appointments, and some impressive residences were fashioned out of 22 LORD AND PEASANT converted monastic buildings after the Dissolution. The architecture became more extrovert and eye-catching, with elaborate wreathed chimney stacks, intricately carved high-pitched gables, mullioned and transomed windows piled up to form façades of glass, heraldic devices over doorways, and contrasting patterns of blue bricks to relieve the plainness of red-brick houses.

Geese were sometimes so numerous as to require the attention of a gooseherd, while ducks and pigeons seem to have become popular by the thirteenth century, if not earlier. Dovehouses, some having as many as 600 holes, were established by early in the following century, while many lords kept peacocks, partly as a dish for festivals and partly for the brilliant feathers. 9 Fish also formed an important element of the medieval diet, brought fresh from the coast to places a few miles inland, while dried herrings were transported greater distances.

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