Thursday, 5 January 2017


University of Tasmania Family History course - Writing Family History

Week 2 e-tivity - Painting a picture
In this exercise we were asked to write 'evocative description' and to particularly pay attention to different senses. I chose to write about a settlement near Todmorden on the Yorkshire / Lancashire border around 1780. E-tivities are restricted to no more than 250 words.


The occasional bleating of sheep resounds through the quiet English countryside.

On top of one of the many green hills surrounding the small village of Todmorden, four stone cottages house the families who own and look after the sheep grazing on this hill. The green of the lush grass is the predominant colour though grey stone fences, forming enclosures near the cottages and sheds, also weave a pattern on the hill slopes. From the top of the hill rivers can be seen flowing through the valleys below.

It is 1780 and nine year old Simeon lives with his parents and four brothers and two sisters in one of the cottages. The cottages don’t just provide shelter for the families living in them. They also provide a workspace for the spinning and weaving of yarn, a cottage industry essential to the livelihood of people in this region.

The sound of laughter can be heard as Simeon’s older sister, Mary, looks after the younger children who are playing with a lamb in a small field near the cottage.

Inside the cottage a number of women, assisted by some of the children, weave woollen or the new cotton cloth. Next day a packhorse will carry the finished cloth along the narrow path winding through the fields to the market town.

The smell of soup and freshly cooked bread comes from the cottage stove. Shortly Simeon’s father and older brother will join the family for dinner after spending the day tending the sheep.

Useful references:
Todmorden and Walsden website
 Also posts mentioning Todmorden on this blog
The Fielden Trail: a ramble through Todmorden's past by Jim Jarratt, 1988
Fieldens of Todmorden: a nineteenth century business dynasty by Brian R Law, 1995


  1. So different from the Todmorden of today that we visited last year.

  2. Jill,
    We called into Todmorden for a couple of hours on a wet Sunday morning in August 2011. From our brief stay, even through the rain, it is a facinating town and I would like to return one day for a closer look of the area. The Lord and Fielden families lived in the area for centuries and their story (particularly the story of the Fielden family) covers the industrial revolution in England.