The history of allotments touches on wider events and is shaped by forces that may seem unconnected to today’s allotment gardener. It is a story of greed and power, of hunger, protest and the struggle for a fairer society. It concerns the arrogance of the ruling and the rising middle classes and their indifference to the plight of the poor – but also philanthropy, the pursuit of ideals and, eventually, some beneficent legislation.
…Caroline Foley’s fascinating book traces the developments of allotments back to the Middle Ages and the origins of the right to your own piece of land. These areas were…
Foley’s book adds flesh to the bones of this strand of social history, taking us from medieval Britain, when the majority of the population owned nothing, to present-day allotments which, quite apart from fruit and vegetables, allow space for flowers, wildlife, conservation and just…fun! A must for the bookshelf for any fervent allotmenteer.
British allotments are more for leisure than necessity these days but their social history is less politely pastoral. Those strips of land were the line between wellbeing and destitution…
This is more than a history of allotments – it’s the history, from 1066, of the constant struggles the poor had to keep land on which they could grow vegetables and raise a cow. If there was ever an example of history repeating itself, it is here…
Growing food is the subject of Caroline Foley’s Of Cabbages and Kings. Described on the cover as…The Wake. The Tillage Act in 1563 aimed to prevent the conversion of arable to pasture ‘in order to curb idleness, drunkenness and all other lewd practices’. (This is a recurring theme in the social history of gardening. Ralph Austen, a Calvinist Proctor of Oxford University wrote a treatise on fruit trees, pointing out the connections between good husbandry and the good life).
Caroline Foley’s fascinating and handsomely illustrated history of the allotment movement finds a dark story of greed, hunger, protest and philanthropy behind the green oases. Allotments have deep roots in the medieval custom of common land, where the landless poor once grew food to feed their families.