Monday, 3 February 2014

Gertrude Jekyll and the Haslemere Peasants Part 2

Gertrude Jekyll's chapter 'Home Industries' in Old West Surrey (Jekyll, Gertrude, Longman, Green & Co.,1904) exhibits some shared thinking with the Haslemere Peasant Arts movement:

"It is so long since the spinning-wheel was at work in this district that I cannot hear of any one in the neighbourhood who remembers having seen it used, although some of my old friends among the labouring folk are between eighty and ninety years of age.…Spinning and winding wheels have come out of them (lofts) none the worse for wear after many years of retirement and thick coatings of dust and cobwebs.

The spinning wheel
from Jekyll, Gertrude, Old West Surrey

"When they are carefully cleaned one cannot but admire their simple structure, and the way their makers delighted in putting pretty turned work into their legs and into the many spindles that went to form their structure. 

"The sight of these simple pieces of mechanism – mechanism, that supplemented but did not supplant hand labour – makes one think how much fuller and more interesting was the rural home life of the older days, when nearly everything for daily use and daily food was made and produced on the farm or in the immediate district: when people found their joy in life at home, instead of frittering away half their time in looking for it somewhere else; when they honoured their own state of life by making the best of it within its own good limits, instead of tormenting themselves with a restless striving to be, or at any rate to appear to be something that they are not.  Surely that older life was better and happier and more fruitful, and even I venture to assume, much fuller of sane and wholesome daily interests.

"Surely it is more interesting, and the thing when made of a more vital value, when it is made at home from the very beginning, than when it is bought at a shop."  

The winding wheel
from Jekyll, Gertrude, Old West Surrey

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