History Books 2

Barbara Kerr’s Preface to her splendid book, Bound to the Soil: A Social History of Dorset says it all. Here she explains why the rural history of Dorset is so special, and her words have particular relevance to our own project in collecting stories and memories for ‘Tolpuddle Family Lives.’ She writes – so very gracefully – ‘To glance through an uncurtained window into a lighted room is to have a momentary and vivid insight into the way of life in the house. In the same way, to hear the accounts of the living is to have a sudden insight into the past. … More than anything else the memories of old people enable us to do this; and in Dorset these memories can transport us back into the eighteenth century. Until the 1960s Dorset has been a slow-moving agricultural county so that many farming changes, which in more progressive districts took place in the early 19thC were here delayed until the eve of the first world war.’ Her book is an affectionate and admiring testament to the farming communities of Dorset, structured around a series of precise and thoroughly researched case studies of the county’s different regions and soils.