Several Christmas’ ago I received a coveted boxed set of Upstairs Downstairs DVD’s. While watching my 69 hours and 4 minutes of this classic British drama my small interest in domestic history grew. I started reading about it, came across The Victorian Garden, an excellent series that revives a derelict kitchen and kitchen garden of a large country estate and discovered Ruth Goodman. Ruth is a social and domestic historian which sounds drab but the way she brings history to life has made me a big fan via her shows aired on TV Ontario. She’s definitely not sentimental about the past but gets involved in the nitty gritty bits of history that are often left out. Bits like how did our ancestors keep clean or warm, how did they preserve food or deal with sickness. Basically how did the average Joe and Jane survive day to day. The programs follow the format of Ruth and two archaeologists taking up residence in a period property (usually a farm) for a year and showing the processes, indoors and out of what was done to exist. Here are some episode links:
Lately I’ve noticed quite a few other programs popping up that deal with the same subject: The Country House Revealed, At Home with the Georgians, If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home. Maybe getting back to some basics is on other people’s minds too.