Flora Thompson was born in an Oxfordshire village in 1876, and
she is writing here about conditions in 1890
From p31…….. 'Poverty's no disgrace, but tis' a great inconvenience'
was a common saying among the Lark Rise people; but that put the
case too mildly, for their poverty was no less than a hampering
drag upon them. Everybody had enough to eat, and a shelter which,
though it fell far short of modern requirements, satisfied them.
Coal …. and a pint of paraffin HAD to be squeezed out of the weekly
wage; but for boots, clothes, illnesses, holidays, amusements
and household renewals there was no provision whatever. How did
they manage? …….
……. ( p32) But, in spite of their poverty and the worry and anxiety
attending it, they were not unhappy, and, though poor, there was
nothing sordid about their lives. 'The nearer the bone, the sweeter
the meat', they used to say, and they were getting very near the
bone from which their country ancestors had fed. Their children
and children's children would have to depend wholly upon whatever
was carved for them from the communal joint, and for their pleasure
upon the mass enjoyments of a new era. But for that generation
there was still a small picking left to supplement the weekly
wage. They had their home-cured bacon, their 'bit o' leazings',
their small wheat or barley patch on the allotment; their knowledge
of herbs for the homely simples, and the wild fruits and berries
of the countryside for jam, jellies, and wine, and round about
them as part of their lives were the last relics of country customs
and the last echoes of country songs, ballads and game rhymes.
This last picking, though meagre, was sweet