Here’s an extract from “Men and the Fields”, a description of farming in the East of England county of Suffolk, written by Adrian Bell in 1939 (Little Toller Books – ISBN 978-0-9562545-2-8):
“Then there was the baking in this cottage with its brick oven. The father at this time of year used to be given a hedge to cut by his master, and he used to make it up into little faggots especially for the brick oven, called batlins. They used to bake once in three weeks, and the woman, who had then been a child, told me that the bread ate as sweet at the end of that time as at the beginning. They had two kneading troughs, one to bake the bread in, the other to store it. They made big loaves, bigger than that the baker now bakes for the harvest festival.”
Now look at this photograph taken the best part of twenty years later at a North Wales farm:
Never mind the fact that it’s an Environmental Health Officer’s nightmare, especially the little lamb at the front and the Live Chicks boxes at the back, look at the size and quantity of the breads. Was that three weeks supplies? What on earth did they use for bread tins?
The photo was given to me by Carys, one of our customers. It shows her aunt and grandmother at the family farm in Llanuwchllyn, near Bala in the 50s.