I love books and I particularly like old handwritten books.
I have told you about my old handwritten recipe books, but I don't think
I have told you about my collection of old account books.
At first glance, they look pretty dull.
This is a page from an 1898 blacksmith's book.
I have thoroughly enjoyed wading through the entries, trying to decipher the writing,
checking out the charges, the names of the customers,
This afternoon our lovely neighbour, John (aged 96 and still cares for Arnold the horse)
He was great company and conversation was wide-ranging and interesting.
John spent his working life as a farm manager
and is a mine of information on the old ways of farming.
I showed him the ledger.
Suddenly that book came to life as John pored over the entries, deciphering the old writing.
Words which had puzzled me often turned out to be trade names which he recognised.
He told stories of the old days when farms had large numbers of working horses
and the local blacksmith was in great demand.
Machinery would be repaired, if possible.
We read entries about sheep cutters, turnip planters, dog chains, plough traices,
knives sharpened, a crow bar sharpened and repaired,
gates and pitch forks,
wheels were repaired and oak boards supplied for a coffin.
There is an entry to show that they cut 15 acres of hay for Lady Lothian at Blickling...
details of which can be found here,
suffice to say it is a very large old house and Lady Lothian ran the place after her husband died.
I'm not sure why a blacksmith would send his men to cut hay, but I guess money is money.
They charged 2/- per acre... 10 new pence.
The book has about 460 pages, packed with entries and the prices charged.
It will take a while to work through it, but I'm sure it holds
lots more stories.
Meanwhile, I am going to lend it to John.
He enjoyed poring over it, remembering the old days,
I think he will have hours of fun!