Victorian Farm

With rain pelting and my leg throbbing, yesterday seemed a perfect day to finally watch a series recommended by my internet friend, Regina — Victorian Farm, a six-hour BBC documentary following a historian and two archaeologists who attempt to renovate an old farmhouse on a Shropshire estate and live for a year as farmers in the 1800s.

The show has been uploaded in episodes to Youtube:

With my twin passions for history and farming it was perfect for me. I lay with my leg up on pillows and immersed myself in Victorian England and the struggles of three modern people to grasp how to sow wheat, make head cheese, fire bricks, split fence rails, drive horses, plaster a wall, cook on a coal range, sew by lamplight, etc. Since I have done many of these things and read about all of them, watching was great fun.

I have never seen a so-called “reality show,” but all the glowing reviews of Victorian Farm point out that this is no such thing. We learn nothing about the private lives of the three protagonists, just enjoy their good humor, occasional surprise, and excitement as their efforts work or don’t work. The expression on the face of Alex as he’s groping nervously inside a ewe for a lamb’s feet or of Peter, presented with beef tongue for dinner, are priceless. And if you’ve ever taken a sponge-bath in an unheated room, you can appreciate Ruth’s tooth-chattering as she pours hot water from a pitcher over her shoulder while standing in a basin in her bedroom.

I have two more hours of this series to go, then over the coming months will tackle the spin-off special Victorian Farm Christmas, and the sequel, Edwardian Farm.

I am really looking forward to the latter, as I expect many of the innovations from the early 20th century in England will bring the group almost up to date with New England farming in the 1930s, which translates to farming in these remote and rugged Adirondacks in the 1950s. How I would love to watch an American series like this!

Thank you, Regina!

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