Cheese Schools and Cider Classes: the Development of Agricultural Education in Somerset

During the late nineteenth century a quiet revolution was going on in the teaching of agriculture. Growing foreign competition along with economic depression in the agricultural sector, and the increasing demands of an urban population for more standard, high quality food products, all contributed to the development of a more scientific approach to farming. Agricultural societies, prominent individuals from the fanning world, and latterly the state, came to see the promotion of better education as a way of helping a struggling agricultural sector. In this article, Janet Tall provides just one example of an educational movement which was sweeping across the country, and the impact it had on rural Somerset.

Bristol in the 1490s

Five hundred years ago, Bristol was the second or third largest town in England ( only London, York, and possibly Norwich outstripped it in wealth and population), but was finding it difficult to maintain this position in the face of increasingly difficult economic conditions. Bristol shared in the problems besetting many of its rivals: population growth was held back by recurrent epidemics, with the result that levels of trade and demand for manufactured goods remained low, while the shortage of tenants meant that houses fell empty and soon decayed; the increasing competition from rural clothiers hit the urban textile industry, and the town's elite showed growing reluctance to volunteer for burdensome and costly civic office. Peter Fleming offers an insight to life in Bristol in the last decade of the fifteenth century.