By in Movies & TV

Victorian Farm TV Programme

Watching Victorian Farm on the TV, the programme is quite interesting as I've been looking into my family history and most of my ancestors on one side were agricultural labourers, so it is interesting to see how they might have lived their lives.

However, the Victorian farm they set up and the cottage they lived in, was for farm owners - not agricultural workers. Also, everything on the programme would have shown the latest products and thinking and cooking from the times - and not how the common peasants who worked on the farms were living at all.

It's a posh person's Victorian Farm. It's still interesting to watch, but the reality for thousands of agricultural workers was completely different to this programme.

Indeed, in the Victorian Farm they just had the latest cooking range fitted into the fireplace - and I know my great-grandmother didn't have any such cooker until the 1940s, some 60-70 years later. My great-grandmother, born in 1881, had no oven part to her range. My mother was brought up by her grandmother and told me that if they wanted to bake anything she had to walk it across to the bakehouse as all they could cook in their cottage was stews and things in pots.

Also in the programme, as they are farm owners - and not agricultural workers - they had horses and carts for everything. I expect the agricultural workers walked everywhere and had to collect their goods, coal and provisions by hand. They are also cooking and eating a lot of the animals they are rearing on the farm - whereas agricultural workers would have just been growing food in their little gardens (provided usually with their cottages) and whatever birds, rabbits and other animals they could catch in the surrounding fields. Maybe a few had a couple of chickens, but that'd be it.

It's an interesting programme, but, as I said, it's just showing the cutting edge lifestyles of the more well off so while an interesting snapshot it's the lifestyle of the few.


Image Credit » My photo - I took this at the Museum of Welsh Life in February 2008

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Hollyhocks100 wrote on February 8, 2015, 5:54 AM

My stepmother's first husband was a farm laborer and I can remember her telling me they were so poor they would have peas one day and the pods the next as a veggie, and that was probably in the late 50´s early 60´s, so yes, there are two sides to the coin.

Kasman wrote on February 8, 2015, 6:10 AM

I have also watched this programme and I agree with you! From what I have read of the subject farm labourers back then were neither well treated nor well provided for. We must bear in mind that these programmes are made as entertainment and not factual documentaries.

mrsmerlin wrote on February 8, 2015, 9:52 AM

This programme was filmed not that far from where I live and whilst I agree with what you say, I feel I have to defend the programme based on farms around the area. From research I did for a writing project I can confirm that there were several farms that worked in the way depicted. This is shown as a small family farm which would have been under the power of a larger land owner but still able to grow, nurture and eat from their own efforts.
The farm labourers were a totally different kettle of fish and were little more than slaves for how they were treated. I think the programme should have made more of this distinction. The farm is actually open to the public as a working Victorian Farm which seems to be very popular with the tourists.

valmnz wrote on February 8, 2015, 2:28 PM

Like you, I think I'd rather see it from the workers point of view. That was the reality for most. The things you mention f the owners lifestyle were not the norm.