11.16. Housing

All of the reports that we have, mention that the majority of the farmworkers’ cottages were in a very bad state, as they were small, badly constructed, and let in the rain and the wind. Below we have a typical cottage of this type.

Rural housing in Middlesex c. 1800. Engraving by J. T. Smith

(John Woodforde, The Truth about Cottages, Tauris, London, 2007, p. 20)

From about 1780 onwards, the landowners began to interest themselves in improving the cottages of the labourers on their estates. (It appears that the aristocratic owners, whose families had owned the land for centuries, and had kept a certain relationship with the workers, were those who made the improvements; the persons who had recently purchased the land as a financial investment, did not bother to make the changes)

The medium size of well-built labourers’ cottages were as the following drawing (15 feet square to 17 feet square):

(Board of Agriculture / Arthur Young, General View of the Agriculture of the County of Norfolk, 1804, plate facing p. 25)

The best cottages illustrated in the reports, were those built by a clergyman in Devon, who had bought the land some years earlier.

(Board of Agriculture / Charles Vancouver, General View of the Agriculture of the County of Devon, 1808; plate facing p. 96, View of the Bridestowe Cottages)

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