Tuesday, November 23, 2021

The Barn by Sally Coulthard

Before 21st century garden offices and their electrics, insulation, and green roofs, there was another much more basic form of shedworking. Friend of Shedworking Sally Coulthard - author of numerous books on sheds, nature, and history - combines all three of those areas of expertise in her latest book, The Barn: The Lives, Landscape and Lost Ways of an Old Yorkshire Farm. The book pivots around an old barn on her property in the Howardian Hills of Yorkshire as she narrates its history from threshing barn to a home for horses and cows, and later as a garage for the family cart. It's not an exceptional barn (though the witch marks are intriguing), but Sally uses it as a jumping off point to tell the sometimes rather grim story of the people who farmed the area and have often been rather whitewashed out of history. 

As well as plenty of fascinating material on rural life (hiring fairs, corn spirits, and a lot more about the guano industry than I had expected), it's also a very human history, focusing on the people whose lives changed over several centuries as times and technology changed around them, peppered with contemporary accounts from newspapers which really bring the book to life. For those of us from Yorkshire there is the added interest from its often hyperlocal examples of events (I worked as a journalist in some of the locations she mentions). Readable, fascinating, and just the right length, it's a reminder at a time when shepherds' huts are happily becoming more numerous again that the 30 second commute hasn't always been to a keyboard and a comfy chair.


  Tuesday posts are sponsored by Garden Spaces, suppliers of                    contemporary garden buildings, offices, gyms and studios, many of     which do not require planning

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