Visitors from Norfolk

In April of 2012, we wrote a blog post about the Norfolk four course, an 18th century innovation in crop rotation. The principles behind this system have informed many of Seven Trees’ current growing practices, only scaled down to fit our space and time.

We recently received a notice that someone had linked back to this blog post, so naturally we were curious. A few clicks led us to a blog written by someone in training at a working historical farm in…..Norfolk! at the Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse. From their website:

In 1776 the combined parishes of Mitford and Launditch bought Chapel Farm at Gressenhall to build a ‘house of industry’ for the poor.

In 1834 the Poor Law Amendment Act led to the transformation of the house of industry into a workhouse. The aim was to keep costs low by making life for the paupers so unpleasant that people would do everything they could to avoid having to live there.

A new system of classification separated men, women and children. Work included breaking stones, pumping water, carting gravel and oakum picking for men and domestic chores in the kitchens, laundry and female wards for women. The only benefits were the health care and education.

The workhouse closed in 1948. After a short period of time as a home for the elderly, Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse opened as a museum in 1976.

The WorkhouseThe animals on Gressenhall Farm are all East Anglian breeds that would have been common in our farmyards 100 years ago:

• Red Poll cattle

• Norfolk Horn sheep

• Suffolk sheep

• Southdown sheep

• British White cows

• Suffolk Punch horses

• Marsh Daisy chickens

• Norfolk Black turkeys

• Goats

• Large Black pigs

There is a lot to explore on the website alone, so if historical farm geekery is your thing, dig in and click around!

Working Suffolk PunchesI don’t think the humans of Seven Trees have too many ancestors from that area, but we added it to the list of potential stops when we make our big ancestral tour in the next few years.

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