Nicola here. The recent hot weather in the UK (3 hot days and a thunder storm, as the old adage suggests) has given us lots of lovely opportunities for being outside, whether sitting reading a book, eating, or doing some much needed gardening. Two hundred years ago if I had been sitting in this spot it would probably have been a vegetable garden and pen for the pig. The cottage would have been newly built, two rooms up, two down. It looked out across a rough track rather than a paved road, and there was a stream that ran down the side of the road and into a pond at the bottom of the garden. The villagers dumped their waste there; lots of pottery has been found in the dried out pond bed.
In those days people living in this sort of worker’s cottage had precious little time for leisure or for growing flowers for pleasure. They grew food and kept animals to live on, and their existence in the village was a communal one with one well (now in the garden of Spring Cottage.) You would need to go further up the social scale to find a cottage or “villa” where there was a garden designed for relaxing in. The doctor and the vicar would have that sort of house in this sort of village; their wives and daughters did not need to work and the garden was a social space. Those houses look pretty big to us today and cost a fortune to buy but in the Georgian era they were the homes of the lesser gentry and though there might be time to sit around drawing or growing flowers, the lady of the house would still learn all about seed planting and making herbal medicines alongside her other house hold duties.