Lark Rise To Candleford
Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson
Lark Rise to Candleford is an account of life in a rural hamlet, village and market down in Victorian Britain. Written by Flora Thompson, it is based on her own childhood and the lives of those she knew as she grew up, an intelligent and observant child, in a poor hamlet before taking up a position in a town post office.
As someone who loves history as it was lived by the ordinary people, I found Lark Rise to Candleford to be a fascinating read, full of detail about every aspect of everyday life. I have often wished, when researching my own family tree, that I could again speak to my late grandmother and get her to tell me the tales that her own grandmother could have told her. Sadly, it is too late, but in Flora Thompson I have an account by a country girl of the same generation, living the same kind of life that my great-great-grandmothers would have lived in rural England.
Speaking of herself as Laura Timmins, Flora Thompson gives a clear and honest portrayal of life as she once knew it, and paints a picture of a community where folk are poor but proud, who work hard and enjoy small pleasures to the full. Her voice is surprisingly modern, and she speaks without Victorian prudishness of everything from illegitimate pregnancies to the ribald songs of men in the fields, along with tales of the classroom, church, feasts and holidays.
This book is a delight for anyone who has an interest in how their ancestors once lived, told in an engaging way, more like fiction than a history book. If you liked 'Little House on the Prairie', or grew up on a diet of 'Little Women' and 'Anne of Green Gables', you will love the narrator of 'Lark Rise to Candleford' and the tales she has to tell.
In 2008, the BBC dramatised the books in a popular TV series starring a talented cast of British actors.
Lark Rise To Candleford - Tales of a By-Gone World
Editions of Lark Rise To Candleford published today tend to be the trilogy of the three original volumes, which makes for a nice fat book! This is a lovely read but do bear in mind it's not a novel, more a collection of the author's memories as she grew up in rural Oxfordshire in England.
Read about Flora's youth and the characters of her life. Discover too the fashions, country customs, and childhood rhymes and games. While so much has been lost to time, it might surprise you to find common threads with the past too.
A Victorian Country Childhood
Families tended to be large and cottages were small, so there was not much space indoors and at a young age children were turned outdoors to play, wrapped warmly in a shawl.
When they were old enough, they were sent to school. This might be a walk of several miles from their home and they would make the journey in all winds and weathers, unaccompanied by adults who had their own work to see to. At school, all the children learned to read and write, to do basic arithmetic, and the girls learned sewing and embroidery. They also received Scripture lessons.
At the age of 11 or 12, school would end for the boys who were now old enough to begin making a living working in the fields, which brought home a little extra income to feed the family. Girls would be sent out from this age into service, working as maids in country houses or in one of the cities. They would send home money and often clothes, inheriting the cast-offs of their employers.
Childhood sweethearts would endure long separations, seeing each other only when the girl had some time off and could visit home. Sometimes the girls did return to marry a local boy, but often they were able to better their station in life by marrying a tradesman or butler.
Victorian Woman's Life in the Country
Life was not easy for the married woman, as she often had several children and not all of these would survive. The birth might be attended by an old woman who acted as midwife, with the doctor only called for especially difficult births.
In addition to being responsible for the children and for keeping the house as clean and comfortable as she could, the Victorian country wife also had the difficult task of making ends meet with her husband's wages. If there was not enough to go round, she was the one who would get the blame.
While there were children at home, the women did not leave the house but might be able to take some work in to earn a little extra money.
The food that she cooked came mostly from the vegetable patch and from the pig that each family would fatten and kill perhaps once a year. Milk had to be bought and many children went without, and lard was often eaten on bread in place of butter.
Lark Rise to Candleford Series One - BBC TV Series on DVD
This BBC production is closely based on the books of the same name by Flora Thompson. In Series 1, Laura Timmins leaves the hamlet of Lark Rise to work for Dorcas Lane in the Post Office. There she encounters the fascinating characters of Candleford.
"People were poorer and had not the comforts, amusements, or knowledge we have today; but they were happier. Which seems to suggest that happiness depends more upon the state of mind -- and body, perhaps -- than upon circumstances and events."
Victorian Man's Life in the Country
Most men worked as labourers for the local farmer. The hours were long and the work was hard, but they sang songs and told tales to pass the time.
Their wages were given to their wives to manage, and from this they were given enough money for a half-pint each night in the local public house. Although the company was often high-spirited, the men had not enough money to get drunk and made their half-pint last all evening.
A man expected to be master in his own home and received the largest portion of the food. Not all men were the dominant husband and father we associate with Victorian times, but some men would be harsh with their wives and might even beat them.
If a man could not work, there would be very little money coming in. So it is little wonder that his needs were considered to be the most important.
Lark Rise to Candleford Series Two
In the second series, Laura continues to observe the changes in the world around her, both in the market town of Candleford and in her hamlet home Lark Rise. Both she and postmistress Dorcas Lane experience the pleasures and pains of falling in love.
Lark Rise to Candleford Series 3 and 4
As the folk of Lark Rise and Candleford continue to struggle with everything from petty squabbles to the death of a child, Laura finds herself in love once again, with intelligent young journalist Daniel. However, her heart is torn when Fisher makes an unexpected return to Candleford.
In series 4, Dorcas Lane is once again on the brink of romance, this time with young widower Gabriel Cochrane. But can he go beyond his grief at the loss of his first wife to see Dorcas as more than just an employer?
More tales from the slightly pretentious Candleford, while life is much more about the simple pleasures and harsh realities of live over in Lark Rise.
A Tribute to Lark Rise to Candleford (TV mini-series)
Sadly the last in the series. See how the characters resolve their troubles and conflicts, and discover which of them will finally find a happy ending.
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© 2010 Indigo Janson