Now that the weather is getting colder and there’s an end in sight to tomatoes and cabbages decorating our house, my thoughts turn to the hands-on history of the BBC series, Edwardian Farm, Victorian Farm, and Wartime Farm. We watched them several years ago, and since then the girls have been re-watching them through illnesses, concussions, and other mishaps.
In these adventures, historian Ruth Goodman and archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn move to a period farm and farm it for a year using methods and equipment of the time. Full of animals, history, British scenery, mild humor, historical technology, and samples of daily life, these three series have something for everyone and are deservedly popular. I especially love the British scenery and the ingenuity of the past, and the actors are full of zest and humor.
From fishing, raising strawberries, and cleaning for the local gentry for extra income to raising pigs, cleaning chimneys, and special outings, each episode is full of surprises and learning. Yes, British history is about dates and royalty and wars, but it is also about the nameless ordinary people, the way they lived, what they thought, how they worked, and what they ate. This is the kind of history that these series teach so memorably.
Someone once wrote: “If you get your history from movies, you get what you deserve.” That may be so for Hollywood movies, but these documentaries involve experts who seem determined to recreate a certain time-period with great accuracy. You and your children can learn real everyday history, the background to what’s in the textbooks.
Although realistic, these documentaries are family-friendly. However, very occasionally Christianity is mocked mildly and at one point folklore drifted into spiritualism, which was popular at the time. (Aside: Across the Channel, even Pierre and Marie Curie were involved!)
There are a few related farm series that we have not yet watched, Tales from the Green Valley , Victorian Pharmacy, and Tudor Monastery Farm. Secrets of the Castle, involving some of the same actors, also looks interesting but promises to be quite different from the others. Miss 22 says the ones she has watched are very good, and we hope to watch them this winter.
Note: Links often change; if one of the above links no longer works you will easily be able to find the series you want by searching YouTube.
Disclosure: We have watched these BBC series on YouTube many times. Our opinions are our own and we are not compensated for them.