Funded by UK Government

Tolpuddle Family Lives: A People’s Heritage 

Funded principally by Historic England’s national initiative, ‘Everyday Heritage: Celebrating Working-Class Histories’, Tolpuddle Family Lives is a programme of events and activities through which participants will be able to imagine the past as experienced by the Dorset rural working-class, those who laboured in the cottages and on the land – who were, in the 19th century – among the very poorest working people in the country.  The project will uncover largely overlooked parts of the Tolpuddle story, with a particular focus on women and children, and domestic life. It will collect evidence from a wide variety of sources, and explore creative ways of bringing the past to life. However, this is not just about ‘doing History.’ Activities will also include celebrating the skills and cultures of rural labourers through craft workshops, concerts and related events in which we will develop creative responses to historical materials. A key element of this programme is ‘co-creation’ – participants will be offered opportunities to influence the direction and the delivery of the project which is planned to run from April to October, 2024. Our intention is to finish with an exhibition and/or a festive event which brings together the achievements of the participants.

Tolpuddle Family Lives will cover am unrestricted span of historical time from the early nineteenth century to the twentieth, working through a series of strands and events running concurrently. Participants can attend as little or as much of the programme as they choose. Details of these events and how to take part will be advertised here on this site. The first part of the programme (April to early summer) is available below, and further elements for the summer and autumn will be published in due course.

All events in this programme are offered free of charge, and we are grateful to our funders, Historic England and Heritage Lottery, for this opportunity.

We look forward to warmly welcoming anyone who is interested in participating, and no prior experience or expertise in any aspect of the programme is required or expected, apart from a capacity for enjoyment, some curiosity, and interest.

You can find out more about Historic England’s national scheme here:

Professor Philip Martin
Chair, TOCT
Director of Tolpuddle Family Lives: A People’s History