Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The changing face of the countryside

Have you ever considered what huge changes have taken place in the countryside, even over the last 50 years? These pictures were taken at the Weald and Downland Museum in Sussex during our holiday in September  The museum tells us about the lives of the men, women and children who lived in these traditional buildings in years gone by.


I have recently been reading the book An Island in Time-  the Biography of a village by Geert Mak, which tells the story of the decline in village life of Jorwert  in North Holland - but this could also be the same story retold in many villages throughout Europe. Over the past 50 years the villages have changed as farms have grown larger, schools and shops and pubs have shut and many of the villagers now work away from the village. In the South West many villages now have many holiday homes that are empty for much of the year.  The village were I lived in the early 80's has empty barns where previously cows were milked. The book highlighted how technology has caused an even greater loss of connection between the land and the people.


 Looking back through the generations where did you ancestors live? Most of mine lived in the countryside or close to the sea. They would have been quite self sufficient living in their communities, you certainly couldn't say that is the same for most of us today!


The Weald and Downland Museum was a wonderful day out, it is in beautiful surroundings and it was interesting to look in the buildings and see how people had once lived.  In Germany (where I grew up) the farmhouses are large with the animals living in the main part of the building with the families living in separate quarters alongside. I didn't see any of examples of this here.


The company that supplied the wildflower meadow seen at the Olympic opening ceremony had surplus turf and some of it was donated to the museum. Sadly the meadow had been cut when we visited!






The BBC have been using this location for their forthcoming series of a "Tudor Monastery Farm." They were filming on the day we visited - you can see a spotlight inside the building and the white board outside was reflecting more light into the building. We also saw one of the presenters dressed in his Tudor outfit. We have enjoyed the previous series of the Victorian, Edwardian and Wartime farms and we will be watching this on Wednesday evening too.

As Willie mentioned in the comments below the Tudor Monastery Farm starts tonight on BBC 2 at 9pm. You can watch previous series on you tube see links below.

Have you noticed changes in the countryside in your neighbourhood?

Sarah x

40 comments:

  1. Just to say....
    Tudor Monastery Farm...Starts to-day on BBC2 at 9:00.
    The first of six episodes...I do like that Ruth Goodman.
    Basically running a farm in 1500. Not to be missed if you,
    like me love the countryside...! :).

    Country side around me has'nt changed that much...Only
    changes when local authorities stick their noses in, townies
    coming to the country side, thinking they know best, when they
    don't. I've crossed swords with a few in my time...But, that's another
    story.....
    Love the photos...Love the houses.....This is what life is ALL about.....

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  2. Hi Sarah, thank you for sharing these gorgeous photos. It looks like a wonderful place to visit. I didn't know about the new farm series , so thanks for mentioning that....I'll be watching.
    Jacquie x

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  3. I love the Weald and Downland, we went a few years ago and had a great day out. I'm looking forward to the new BBC series. Not where we live now, but the village where I grew up has changed so much from when I lived there as a child, I remember as a child looking out of my bedroom window watching houses being built on the field opposite, that used to have cows escaping from the field all the time. No cows in the village now! xx

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  4. I love Sinlgeton. The last time we went there out children were in their early teens, that's a long time ago. lol
    We keep saying that we must revisit, its only just down the road in car terms.
    Thanks for the piccy's they might spur us on to go down there.
    Briony
    x

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    Replies
    1. I hope you manage a visit, there was so much nice and it was in such a beautiful setting.
      Sarah x

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  5. Hi Sarah, I often think about how things have changed where I live. On my mother's side my ancestors arrived from the UK to this area in 1842 (the year European settlement began), and were mainly farmers, as were my grandparents and parents. Even over the last 20 years there has been so many changes I wonder what my parents would say (they have been gone almost that long). There are hardly any sheep left, the apple orchards have gone, grapes have been planted and farm land has become subdivisions for houses. And the traffic has increased so much! But yet when I look at the mountains and hills, and the sea I know its the same view my ancestors would have gazed on, and it makes me feel like I belong. S:)

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    Replies
    1. We have had many apple orchards that have disappeared too. During the summer months we have lots of apples imported from New Zealand. Where do you get your apples from out of season?
      Sarah x

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    2. Oops I was a bit over dramatic, we still do have some apple orchards left, Nelson is the second largest apple growing region in NZ! I don't buy apples out of season, but you can get NZ apples all year round, as they keep them in controlled atmosphere, but it makes them expensive. Sometimes I see apples from the USA and pears from China! Sx

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  6. Definitely. The house I grew up in was on the very edge of town with uninterrupted views from the upstairs windows for miles ... it now stands in the middle of a vast housing estate!
    I now live in a village but it too has not been spared - the field that we used to walk through on our way to school now houses a huge Care Home complex. Every other inch of spare land has been built on too and it is only a matter of time before the 'creeping' building means that our village will join up with our neighbouring village. M x

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  7. It looks like a beautiful and fascinating place to visit. I was just thinking yesterday about the fields around our little town and how they will probably be filled with boxy rabbit hutch homes before long. At the moment the town is nicely compact. You could walk around the clearly defined perimeter and be back in time for lunch. But an ugly sprawl is coming, plans are already approved for building on some of the fields. Views will be spoilt and green belt lost forever. I don't like to think about how it will all end. I shall look out for the Tudor Farm series, it sounds interesting.

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  8. I've visited the Weald and Downland museum, it's a fascinating place!

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  9. I am SO grateful Sarah, that at least in your country, these outdoor museums still stand. Here in the US, our historical communities are still standing but the changes I do see are those found in smaller neighborhoods. People buy homes only to demolish them to build larger and in my opinion, uglier houses. Malls and shops that are the same thing mile after mile are replacing the unique store fronts from the past. It's hard to take change of this nature when money is the driving force, rather than building community of art, creativity and unique services. How LOVELY still is your countryside! Anita

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  10. So nice to get a glimpse of the traditional houses dear Sarah :) the countryside in most places has undergone tremendous change . So nice to read about your memories of the countryside while growing up in Germany. If I could, I would love to live in a place like that. Have a lovely week ahead :)

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  11. I read the book "Hoe God verdween uit Jorwerd' years ago, and I remember I thought the way he described the decline of a village very interesting. You can compare it with the history of many villages in west Europe, I suppose. I lived in a little village from 1966 till 1976, and during those years the shops were closed, the elementary school was located in the next (bigger vilage), and so on.
    But I also think that nowadays the houses are much better restored. Though there is a recession nowadays, there still is much more money to spend than 40 years ago. Little villages look much more picturesque, if I remember correctly.
    My grandfather grew up in Giethoorn, a little (very picturesque) village. Our family lived there for hundreds of years. He lived at a farm, which doesn't exist any more.
    Well, now I'm going to enjoy a little walk in the sun. Groetjes, Gerda

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    1. I'm glad you too found the book interesting. There have been some benefits too, as you mention people are living in better conditions now.
      Sarah x

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  12. Do you not think it's a shame this is now a museum, wouldn't it be nice to live in one of these houses and to know the other people who live in such close proximity to you, it's almost like being in your own tiny village, I suppose it would be almost classed as a kind of commune. My parents as children lived in the middle of nowhere and I myself was brought up near lots of open green space, woods, farms, and would go off for hours wandering. If I were to go back there now I know it's covered in an urban sprawl. There are just too many people.

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    Replies
    1. It would be lovely to live in a village like this!
      Sarah x

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  13. This post has me reflecting on my childhood, which was spent growing up on a small farm in Northern Idaho in the USA. While there have been a few new homes built over the years and a few very old ones torn down, for the most part the area has stayed much the same. When my kids were young and we would go down to visit my parents on the farm they experienced the same things I did growing up. My dad is now gone, and my mom lives in a city about an hour away from the original farm. I miss the farm terribly. I also realize how very fortunate I was to have the experience of being a part of a community that stayed true to its roots.

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  14. I hadn't heard of the BBC farm series that you mentioned, so will have to find out about them. (I live in America so don't get to see many good programmes here - apart from Downton Abbey that is, which some Americans are crazy for.) Unfortunately our village in Cornwall has changed significantly since Asda opened back in the 90s.There were three grocery shops, a newsagents, a hardware store, a butcher and a small Toytown bank. Only the post office grocery store remains out of all those, and the spaces are now filled with two estate agents, a charity shop, a boutique (?), and the bank became a doctor's surgery. Also, I am one of the guilty folks who have a house there sitting mostly unused since my parents died, apart from the biannual trips I make.

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    1. You can view some of the Farm programmes on You Tube - search under the following:-
      BBC Victorian Farm, BBC Edwardian Farm. BBC Wartime Farm.
      Sarah x

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  15. Hi Sarah, Yep, here in Southern California it has changed and sad. Growing up not to far from where I live now, there were fields of corn and strawberries. Now, large office buildings. Where I live now, there use to be orange groves and other crops. I am seeing single family home getting smaller and smaller (but the prices are not) and without backyards. They are cramming people in very small living spaces. Plus we our jobs are no longer close to home. We are spending more hours on the road. Sad to see. That is why Hubby and I go anywhere on vacation we look for small towns with Mom and Pop shops and restaurants. Thanks for sharing your photos and for your visit also
    Blessings.

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  16. Lovely post Sarah. I've yet to visit the Weald and Downland museum, and I really should see it. My great great grandparents were from Singleton not too far away from there. They lived at Cucumber Farm where the men were agricultural labourers. Many other ancestors were from the Charlton area which again is very close. We've been to see the farm and also the village of Singleton on a few occasions. The one time we went to visit the museum it was absolutely chucking it down with rain and decided it was simply too muddy to walk around. Oh well another day perhaps.
    Patricia x

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  17. I've always been interested in the Tudor era and would enjoy visiting this place. I'll have to see if that BBC program comes to the US. I think most of my ancestors lived in rural places but the most recent four generations lived in large cities.

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  18. These timbered buildings fascinate me. I wonder if we will ever go back to building our homes using so much timber.

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  19. www.livesimplysimplylive.weebly.com13 November 2013 at 16:53

    We have to support small and organic producers if we want to retain what countryside is left - even if it cost us more. My grandfather left farming with horses to work on the railways because he couldn't support his family farming - such is progress, but we have to put our money where our mouths are! Before it's all gone! Would you agree?

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    Replies
    1. I agree Freda we need to support our local producers whether they are supporting organic or not. Some of our local producers have found that they have been not able to make organic to pay and have had to revert back to using chemicals which is such a shame.
      Sarah x

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  20. The farmland surrounding Toronto has just about been obliterated as the city grows by 100,000 bodies a year.

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  21. My father grew up on two different farms, now most of the fields are developments with houses atop of houses. They say it is progress. We have lived in our home for a little over 20 years now. Used to take us an hour to drive to shopping, now 20 minutes. While I often appreciate the convenience, I would rather look at farmland that a parking lot.

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  22. I love it and thanks for taking us there thru the pictures. JUST beautiful country side

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  23. Since I can't get to England this year, I have to do my visiting virtually through your lens. \

    Thanks for taking me to such lovely spots.

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  24. I love to vist places like that and see how our ancestors lived, it must have been a hard life.

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  25. What a lovely and interesting post- it looks like a great place to visit and I shall be watching out for the Tudor programme- Thanks for sharing:)

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  26. The Edwardian Farm was filmed just over the river from us, and we enjoyed seeing things happen as the filming progressed, looking forward to the Tudor series.

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  27. I visited the Weald and Downland Museum about three or four years ago - so loved seeing it again in your photos. I do enjoy those Edwardian/Victorian/Green Valley series - so I'll definitely be watching the Tudor one. I love to see the self-sufficiency in them, too.

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  28. I've also been to the museum- fantastic place and watching the tudor farm this week prompted me to think about taking the kids there next summer.
    We're reasonably good at growing our own veg, keeping chooks, have a log fire and make bread, cook our food from scratch etc, and spend a lot of time outdoors, but as you say, many people have lost that rural connection. We've had children here who'd never been blackberrying or seen a real fire before, who didn't know the basic names for vegetables or tree types or animal calls. It's worrying I think.

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  29. I have loved all of those TV programmes and am enjoying the Tudor Farm, looking forward to the rest of the series. Brixham has changed a lot from a small but very busy fishing port. Of course now we have the very modern Fish Market, boat yards along the marina are now houses and many of the fields around Brixham are ending up as housing estates. My house is on the site of an old orchard which belonged to the Douglas Family (they have a road named after them and a large house at the end of the road called Douglas House-which now belongs to a charity.

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  30. morning sarah! lucky you being there while they were filming. confessing something here, iv e had a bit of a crush on the lovely Peter for several years now! :-) By the way, the first ever series they filmed ( which started my teenage crush lol) was tales of the green valley, set in the early 1600's. I found this first episode of this new series very similar, being set only 100 years previously. I suppose not a lot really changed in that space of time, apart from the dissolution of the monasteries of course! Tales of the green valley is still wonderful.. There hadnt been a programme like this before then, and its still my favourite of all their series.

    Leanne x

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  31. It was pete who walked past us· If you zoom into the first picture he is on the right. He said hello as he walked past. I haven't seen the programme you mentioned so will have to look it up. We love the Edwardian farm as it is located in one of our favourite locations. Sarah x

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  32. Thanks for the lovely post and mention of the programme - I'll try and catch up with it!

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  33. Hello thank you for your comment in my blog, it is so nice to know that you like to ear the sea like i do, some times it brings me some new ideas and peace :)
    Wish you a excelent day
    Hugs
    Nina

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