The ‘hidden history’ of the title relates to the research carried out by the author and her husband on the details of the lives of the residents of Ewyas Lacy that lay buried in the wills and inventories they left in the three hundred years from the mid 1500s.
We see the rise and fall of fashions, from the clothes worn and the furnishings coveted and treasured to the crops grown and stock kept, and how over time people’s homes became more comfortable and contained more possessions. The number of millers, blacksmiths, tanners and other specialists rose and fell from one period to another, and the local mercer emerged as an important figure. Many women are found to have run farms, and some widows became powerful in their own right. From the documents also emerge hints as to how sin was dealt with by the church and changing attitudes to religion.
Intertwined throughout are many moving and intriguing individual stories – family dramas, both comic and tragic, played out through the surprisingly eloquent pages of legal documents. While the book focuses on the period 1550-1850, the initial chapters provide an overview of the area’s earlier history and the conclusion brings the story up to the present time.
Priscilla Flower-Smith gained a doctorate in History at the University of Exeter, where she then taught a local history course before moving to Llanveynoe in Ewyas Lacy. It was while she and her husband were hunting for details of the history of their 16th-century farmhouse in the Olchon Valley that they came upon a cache of wills and inventories at the National Library of Wales, which in turn was to lead to this book. Sadly, after a few happy years at Llanveynoe, illness struck and they were forced to move to Somerset, to be near their two sons.
Paperback | 224 pages | 242 x 171 mm | 2013
37 colour and 28 b&w photographs and maps