June 1, 2020
Few guests to PreserveCast have commanded as large an audience as today’s guest, Ruth Goodman.
Ruth is an award-winning social and domestic historian of British history who has been involved in several highly-rated BBC television series and has used her knowledge and charm on the screen to make history approachable and interesting.
Goodman is the author of the best-selling book, “How to Be a Victorian.“
On this week’s PreserveCast we’re crossing the pond to learn from a master of public history in a time when history matters more than ever before.
From the Preservation Maryland Studios in the historic podcast, district of Baltimore, this is PreserveCast.
Few guests to PreserveCast have commanded as large an audience as today’s guest, Ruth Goodman. Ruth is an award-winning social and domestic historian of British history, who has been involved in several highly-rated BBC television series and has used her knowledge and charm on the screen to make history, both approachable and interesting. On this week’s PreserveCast, we’re crossing the pond, to learn from a master of public history in a time when history matters more than ever before.
Hey, this is Nick Redding, the host of PreserveCast. And before today’s episode, I want to ask you to consider making a quick donation to support the program. PreserveCast is powered by Preservation Maryland, a non-profit organization, and during difficult times like these, every dollar helps. Your support keeps us on the air making the case for the value, relevance, and importance of history in our lives, and we all greatly appreciate it. To make a donation, you can visit preservecast.org and hit the donate button in the upper right-hand corner of the page. Thanks for all your help, and keep on preserving. Now, let’s get back to the episode.
Ruth Goodman is a social and domestic historian working with museums, theatre, television and educational establishments. She’s presented and consulted on several highly successful BBC Two television series, including the Edwardian Farm, the Victorian Farm, Victorian Farm Christmas, Tales from the Green Valley, and the Victorian Pharmacy, as well as presenting a variety of films for The One Show and Coast.
The Victorian Farm was one of BBC Two’s biggest hits in 2009 and was nominated for a Royal Television Society Award, which was followed by the Wartime Farm. In 2013, she presented Tudor Monastery Farm and the Wonder of Dogs on BBC Two. As well as her television work, Ruth lectures and holds practical workshops around the country. Her particular interest is the domestic, how we lived our daily lives, and why we did the things we did. As Ruth says, “We matter. How our ancestors, ordinary men, women and children, solve the nitty-gritty problems of everyday life made the world what it is today.” She’s authored several best-selling books including How To Be a Tudor, How To Be a Victorian, and the forthcoming, The Domestic Revolution, how the introduction of coal into Victorian homes changed everything. Ruth lives with her family in Buckinghamshire, England.
So, Ruth, it’s a pleasure to have you here today on PreserveCast to talk to you. I feel like a little bit of a fanboy because I’ve watched you so much here in the United States. And you have a job in a profession that I feel like a lot of people dream about. So what got you started down this path? Where did you grow up? Tell us a little bit about yourself. Were you always interested in history? And what was your first job in this field?
Oh, my goodness. It’s about 96 questions. Where to start? Well, I ended up in this job because I married the right man and because I’m not very good at conforming [laughter]. And I think that about sums it up, really. My husband has been a reenactor since he was 12. And in the months in which we got interested in each other and then got married, he wasn’t doing it, he stopped for a bit. And then a month after we got married, he said, “Come on, then.” I said, “What? What? You want me to do what?” It was a bit of a shock to the system, really. The people were lovely, I mean, really lovely really warm and welcoming and–
And what period of history was this that you were re-enacting?
It was the English Civil War, which is a sort of 1630s, 1640s. The bit when we kick out our king, Charles I, and have a go of being a Republican with Oliver Cromwell taking lead for a generation. So it’s a major upheaval, and obviously, a reenactment in society like that is initially based around conflict and war, which didn’t really interest me at all, I’ll be honest, and I still had reservations about military re-enactment. There’s a danger, I think, that one ends up glorifying war and not addressing it really. Seriously, it’s fun. It’s a play. People are having a nice time. That’s not what war is and that worries me. But very, very quickly, he and I both moved across into what might be called living history, and we both found that way more satisfying intellectually, emotionally, on every level.
And then I’ve quickly discovered that the source of elements that I was interested in personally were not much written about. I was really struggling when I went to the libraries to find anything at all relevant. It was the ’80s, the mid-80s, and obviously, there was some sort of more social history beginning to come to the fore but not that much. And much of that which was focused on the lives of women was very much women in the context of male institutions. It was women in the law, women in the church. It didn’t really feel to me like it had very much to do with the realities of life for ordinary women and admittedly ordinary men. Right across the social scale, I’ve felt very much sort of left out by the official history and sort of in a position where if I wanted to know the answers to the questions I had, I was going to have to find out myself, so that’s what I started doing.
And were you working in the field and full time professionally? Did you end up doing that before the foray onto the TV?
Well, the first time I first started researching, I was working for the railway, which at that time was one institution right across Britain. It was called British Rail, and I worked as the station manager. And then when I had my daughter in the mid-80s, they weren’t very good at coping with women with children or part-time working or anything like that, and it became just impossible, utterly impossible. So I left, and then I was sort of saying, “Well, what do I do? What do I do?” So I gradually started turning the hobby into a business, all right.
So I actually started working in schools and then in museums helping to sort of engage people in history, helping to work out ways of communicating in a non-traditional way between institutions with or with a body of knowledge and perhaps the general public who might have felt a bit off-put in other circumstances. It was about developing interpretation styles. It was about learning more about the things I was interested in and trying to convince institutions that these are worth being interested in themselves, that theatres and museums could actually play a part in communicating a much wider story, a story that was more relevant to ordinary people.
Right. And I mean, I feel like now when you go to historic sites, that’s become very common, but as you were saying in the ’80s and early ’90s, that was not the case.
It was not the case, and I feel quite strongly when I look around me that certainly, within Britain, I don’t really know– to be fair, I don’t know quite what was happening in the US, so I just have to leave that bit. But within Britain, I think the movement for a more engaged and use of social history was very much began and driven initially by amateurs. The professionals don’t like to admit this, but they came quite late to the party. We spent a long time trying to persuade people that there was value in this sort of approach and that history could become something that people took to their hearts in a much more democratic sort of a way. It was a long journey and we had a lot of battles over it I think.
Right. Yeah. I would bet. And I think the parallel probably here in the US is interpretation regarding slavery, which is a great national stain, and it also carries with it a lot of shame and guilt. And so it’s been swept under the rug or we refer to them as servants, there’s sort of a language associated with it, and only within even really, I would say the past five years have we seen a real acceptance of this and even entire historic sites that only really talk about slavery or talk about plantation life from the perspective of the slave, not the perspective of the slaveowner, which has really changed things. So there’s that whole other component to it here as well and it’s still playing out in some places. So I think that there are certainly parallels for what was happening in Britain. I’m curious, so how do you make the jump, though, because I think a lot of people would love to know this, how do you make the jump from historian, consulting historian, changing the narrative, all very good stuff, to true TV celebrity? You’ve been called the Queen of Living History, which is pretty cool.
[laughter]. It’s really impressive. How do you get a gig with the BBC?
They phoned me out of the blue.
Oh, and honestly that’s what happened that I got a phone call. They wanted me to take part in a year-long project to go and live in the past. I think one such program had been made before and it’s been proved very popular and they thought they would have a go at another one, would I be interested, and of course I said no, you must be joking. At the time I had a 14-year-old daughter and I had a business. I mean who can walk away from that for a year?
Don’t be daft. So I said no. And they just kept phoning. I mean basically they kept looking around. They couldn’t find anybody else who had the sort of blend of interest in the nitty-gritty of domestic with both the sort of like research background and the doing.
Right. Yeah. It’s very different from– there are a lot of people out there who, not a lot, but there are people out there who know about domestic life and have researched it and things like that, but then the actual transition from understanding it to knowing how to make soap can be a big jump, right? I mean it’s easy to talk about it and then it’s like, wow, this is really hard.
Yeah, it is. And I think if you only talk about it, you often miss things out because you don’t realize, and one of the real values of having practical experience is that because you’re doing the whole process, you find where the gaps are, you know? You get so far and then you realize that none of the sources are telling you the next bit and you didn’t even know there was a hole in your understanding until you try it.
Right, right. And some of these things just weren’t written down because either the people who were doing them didn’t have time to write or perhaps even weren’t literate or they didn’t think to. I mean it was just kind of common sense.
It’s sort of like when you get a recipe from your grandmother and it’s like missing all of these details and you’re like how on earth can you make this thing and it’s like, well, she just made it. She had been doing it for 60 years. She didn’t write down that particular piece. She just thought you knew to do that part. And I think there’s a little bit of that. But it’s just compounded because we’re talking about something that happened 150 years ago.
So speaking of the BBC, the Victorian Farm is probably perhaps one of the easiest shows to grab here in the US. It’s available on Amazon Prime as is Victorian Christmas and there are some other pieces that you can pick up. But tell us about that experience. So for somebody who’s watching it how authentically did you stick to life
in the 19th century. Did you sleep, eat, live on set? Was there a little bit of that– not all of it? What was the experience like on set?
Okay. Well, first of all, it’s important to say there is no such thing as reality tv. It’s all a lie, all of it [laughter]. The process of making television means it is impossible to make genuine reality tv. It’s just a name we give it. All right? So for example, we had one day when we were doing Edwardian Farm, which is the next series on, in which we tried to do nothing special, just to actually follow the process of getting up and moving through the day. And so, obviously, I had two male colleagues and they’re obviously they were going to be filmed on set for days doing theirs. And then came, okay, we’re going to do Ruth’s day. So we all got up three hours before dawn in order to get the lights in place so that we could try again if we didn’t manage to catch it the first time around because cameras can go wrong [laughter]. So we’ve all been up for several hours fiddling around with cameras and lights and getting everything in position and what have you. So that I can then climb into bed and we did try the first take actually at dawn but naturally the sound went wrong. So then we had to put the lights on and film it again and then, of course, we had to do it another time because something banged in the background. So we did that three times. And so it went on. We just went through and by the time I got dressed, had a wash, got dressed, got downstairs, lit the fire and scrubbed the floor, and got the breakfast done, it was 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
Wow. So it’s just almost impossible to film it that way?
It is impossible [laughter]. It absolutely impossible. So all television is a construct so the closest you can get is a sort of a different thing. On one of the places where I and my colleagues were sort of able to do a bit more perhaps than many groups would be able to do, is experience. So because I’d been doing the re-enactments and in many contexts for many years – I mean, by that coin, I’ve probably already done 25 years – I knew exactly what it meant and how to do it and what it felt like. So you could fall back on that to give a more realistic impression. So despite the fact that we’re doing multiple takes and [laughter] and that really helps to make that a truthful thing. Because they have done it but just not in front of a camera.
Right. And you haven’t done it 3 takes in a row or–
Exactly. I have done it sort of for quite long periods of time for real where there’s no cameras there. So that’s sort of lends a bit to it. The actual filming for that Victorian Farm– because we were trying to make 12 episodes throughout the year, and that’s a lot of work for a film crew because they’ve then got to take the footage and do something with it. So we had two teams and we worked one week filming, one week off. And so each filming team would do one week of filming and then they’d have three weeks to sort out the footage. Whereas those of us who were in front of the camera were working one week on, one week off.
Okay. And so where did you stay when you were on set? Did you stay in the historic buildings or was there a little bit of tv magic there?
Similar. Not exactly the same. So in Victorian Farm, for example, we had what started out as a derelict house. We only had so much funds, so we were only actually able to renovate the ground floor [laughter]. So the bedrooms [laughter], and I use that word very carefully. Notice you never see the boys’ bedroom because there weren’t any.
Right. Because there weren’t any. Okay.
The so-called bedroom. My bedroom was in fact half of a derelict room which my daughter and I came and we literally glued the skirting boards on the day before and painted the wall. So that we had to– the other half of the room was derelict, open to the sky because we just didn’t have the money, the budget.
Really. That derelict.
Yeah. That derelict.
Okay. Because I mean, derelict, there’s various definitions of derelict. That’s like close to ruin.
I know. Exactly. But it was close to ruin. But the place we were really living was in fact the top floor of the Acton Scott House, which was sort of the attic nursery rooms. And we did have electricity because it did have some lightbulbs. But that was it [laughter].
Okay. That was it. Well, that’s pretty historic. So sort of as a follow up to that, it seems like shows like this are incredibly popular in the UK. I mean, there’s been a variety of different ones and you’ve been involved in a lot of them and then there’s different versions where there’s historic cars ones, rehab of national trust sites and things like that. Do you have any sense for why it’s so popular there? And I mean, I know you’re not an expert in what’s going on here in the U.S., but we don’t really have anything like that. Is there just a love of heritage that way? I mean, is just the general population that fascinated by it?
I think so. I think heritage is part of our entertainment industry and has been for a very, very long time. People, after all, were opening their country houses to tourists way back in the late 18th and early 19th century. If you were a well-dressed person in 1820, you could just turn up at a grand house, knock on the door, and get the housekeeper to show you around.
I know [laughter]. I mean, and you get that actually in Jane Austen, If you think about it. Think of Pride and Prejudice. She goes to stay in Pemberley as a tourist. So [laughter]. And that’s quite important to say that we have a very long tradition of heritage as entertainment, as something you might enjoy. Although it starts at the top end of society, it moves down quite a lot. So that by the 1950s and 1960s country house visiting was one of the most popular days out for everybody, of all social classes. And I think that has carried on. People enjoy a day out in a different situation, it’s something that you would choose to do as a family event altogether. It’s something that’s very normal. Very much —
Okay. Did you do that as a child? Because you grew up in Wales.
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. So yes, I mean castles particularly [laughter]. Yeah, I knew all about [inaudible] and [inaudible] palaces from about the age of five or six [laughter].
Which is so interesting because it just sort of built-in. I mean, you hear that here when we interview a lot of people on this where they talk about going to Civil War, American Civil War battlefields or Revolutionary War battlefields and kind of being dragged there. But there’s not always the connection to the structure. Although that comes, but it’s not as– it’s just it’s interesting that it’s so popular there. And we don’t really have a show or a series of shows that are similar to that. It’s interesting to kind of compare and contrast what happens there versus what happens here and why that’s happened. So you’ve authored some really fantastic books that kind of go in depth to all of your research and kind of paint this picture. And you have one that’s coming out soon, The Domestic Revolution: How the Introduction of Coal into our Homes Changed Everything. So what’s the process for writing these? How much of the knowledge is based on living history? And how much time are you spending in archives kind of going through and combing to get these details?
All of the books are the result of 20, 30 years of messing about [laughter].
And to me very much the research process is a two-way thing between practice and book-based work in that if you just do something, how do you know it has any relevance whatsoever? I mean, anybody can skin a rabbit. It doesn’t mean anything particularly necessarily. Is this the way somebody skinned a rabbit in the past? Did they have rabbits [laughter]? You’ve got to have a basis of knowledge for it to have any sort of historical context.
But I find that what really happens is that you start with some historical knowledge, you have a go at something, what that throws up is that you haven’t understood it, at all. At all. So you go back and you reread sources with slightly more informed eyes. And you see different things in the written record as a result of the practical experience. And then you go, “Okay, well, maybe”. And you try again, no, I’ve got the wrong end of the stick here. You try something else related. It’s always back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And you just have to be really rigorous, that you’re not making assumptions. Like this works, that must be how they did it, because it’s not necessarily true. There might be several ways it works.
Right. And so for this new book, which is really focused on coal, and you get into that in Victorian farm, where you have the coal stove, which is such a change. And it seems like in good ways and bad ways, right, where you have this sweet-smelling wood and now you have this sort of acrid coal that you have to deal with. But it runs hotter and is easier to tend to. Do you have a coal stove at home so that you can be doing these?
So do you have to go– you have to go to places to do this.
I’d have to go to historical places too and I have to say I hate coal stoves.
You hate them.
I hate them with a passion. I would so much rather work on wood, so much rather.
And that’s because of just how dirty they are and what they smell like?
And I guess even in hating them though you still recognize the impact that they had. I mean that’s what this whole book is about.
They are just really interesting. And there’s so many different things that change precipitated into action. One, it changed the countryside. If you drive around Britain today, the countryside you will see is one that is based on fossil fuel use and has been for hundreds of years. We stopped using wood as our main fuel. I mean, ages ago, way before America did, way before.
We’re still doing it?
Wow, exactly [laughter]
I mean we are.
So I mean that is a really key point that the switch to coal in our homes in Britain– it happened in London first. It happened in London in Queen Elizabeth’s time in the 16th century. So Londoners have been burning coal for 450 years before they gave it up in the mid 20th century.
And part of that is– I mean my understanding and correct me if I’m wrong is that part of that was precipitated by necessity. That you’d cut down your forests, right? I mean in the U.S. we just had expansive forests that just went forever, and so.
It’s a number of people per square mile.
Yeah, the number of people per square mile is a huge thing, population pressure. Yes, in the 1570s we simply had more and more people concentrating into one urban space, London, and the fuel market just couldn’t keep up. It’s takes a long time to grow wood. You can’t just turn land over like that. And there’s always that tension between what are you going to use the land for? Growing food or growing fuel? You can’t do both at the same time. The more people is more mouths to feed so more land gets converted to agriculture rather than forest or Heathland or Fenland or Moorland. And that played out very very strongly in the 16th century. And let’s be honest it’s playing out now on a global scale, isn’t it? We are beginning to have issues in which the production of biofuels is impacting on agriculture productions right across the globe. And that seems to be getting more and more acute.
Yeah, and there’s always a big fight in the U.S. particularly during presidential election years where how much corn are we going to grow in the mid-west for biofuels? And how much money is the United States going to throw at them in subsidies versus are we going to make enough food? And I think it’s actually kind of a transition to this next question or thought I wanted to ask you about, which is with corn. I mean now then all of a sudden it’s like oh, well we really need to feed our country, and we need to have food supplies, and we’re living through a pretty scary time right now with a pandemic and sort of the economic shock associated with that and things that maybe we just took for granted before, like food. You just go to the grocery store, it’s just there. It’s not as if they’re gone, but we’ve begun to kind of question that and realizing perhaps how tenuous the society that we built is. And so do you think that there’s lessons from our ancestors, from your ancestors, from our collective ancestors, whether they be Tudors, Victorians, Edwardians, that have something to tell us right now? Is there a lesson from the past that we should be listening to at this moment?
I think it’s a very general one, not any sort of specific thing but a very general one. That the world changes much more faster and much more frequently than perhaps we’ve all thought. That you need to be careful not to be dependent. And there are many different sorts of dependencies, and we’ve become– capitalism is fantastic and it’s given us a great deal but it only has to wobble a little bit as they say, and you start to see how dependent you’ve become on certain things. Now the nature of capitalism is that people want you to become dependent on their products. They do their darndest to make you dependent on their products. And of course we all fall into it to some degree or other. But this is what I think– this is the lesson in history, that you must always be careful. While you want to take advantage of the things that modernity, globalization, etc., can provide, I mean for goodness sake, nobody wants to go back to a world without penicillin, it’d be madness. However, you just have to always bear in mind that you can’t become too dependent on it. You need backstops. You need that variety of skills, you need that variety of knowledge there as a base that you dip into regularly within your life, I think, in order to sort of keep it refreshed and keep it going so that it’s there when you need it. Because you never know.
Yeah. Yeah. You never know. And I think that, right now, there’s a lot of doom and gloom, and some really sad things happening right now, but I also think that perhaps– you know everybody says, “Well, the world will never be the same,” and perhaps that’s a good thing. I mean, here in the US, we have this tradition of victory gardens, as I know you did as well, during World War I and World War II, and people are now talking about, “Oh. Well, we should be doing gardening.” And the number of gardens that you see going in right now – perhaps people have nothing else to do, as well – that doesn’t hurt. That’s increasing, and I think that that’s a good thing. I think people sort of having a little bit for themselves or just investing in the land, there can be some positives out of this. And certainly, that was something that was done, if you watch Victorian Farm, or you just read about the past, and keeping a little garden was something that was not only important but, in many cases, was critical to keeping the family going.
I agree. And my mother also made a good point to me the other day. She said, “Oh, thank goodness we can cook, Ruth [laughter].” And that is also something– she was a generation who lived with rationing as a child and that whole mentality of how the heck do you make a meal out of the oddest of ingredients [laughter]? How do you feed a family with this? That sort of skill of not needing a recipe book. You can look at what you’ve got and produce something. The ability to make the basics from scratch. That’s really handy, isn’t it [laughter]?
Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, we were looking at a recipe book a couple of days ago, where it’s depression-era cake or it’s eggless, milkless, flourless– I mean, it has no– I don’t know what ingredients it has in it [laughter]. But, I mean, they made do with what they had, and I think that that was– we’ve lived through a period of incredible abundance and we’ll probably return to that. But it’s important, I think, as you say, perhaps the lesson here is to not become too dependent. To at least have some self-sufficiency. So do you have that? Do you have a garden? Do you have chickens? What kind of self-sufficiency [laughter]?
I have a garden.
You have a garden.
I have a garden. I am delighted to say I have a garden, which is something I really enjoy. I don’t have chickens. I live a life, as you can imagine with filming, that involves a lot of in-and-out and away a lot, and I won’t have livestock because it’s just not right to not be there and looking after them properly on a full-time basis. So I don’t have livestock of any sort, but I do have a garden, and I can bake a loaf of bread if I need to [laughter].
That’s good. So, speaking of filming, anything coming up? You’ve got a book, obviously, which is available for preorder right now. Anything coming up filming-wise? Are you working on another series?
Not really. Certainly nothing particularly that’s going to make it over to the U.S., I shouldn’t think. I’m just doing small bits. I have been, I mean, of course, at the moment, nothing is being filmed. Absolutely, so lockdown just means that’s it [laughter]. So we’ll wait and see when things ease. I don’t really know what the future holds any more than anyone else.
Yeah. So, speaking of nothing coming over to the U.S., there’s been a lot of examples of British shows coming over to the U.S. and being popular here. The Office being a great example of that, where it was very popular in the UK and then we had an American version. So would you be open to recreating a period here in the U.S. [laughter], and if so, I mean, what period would you pick?
Oh, my goodness. I’d have to do so much work [laughter].
Well, yeah. But that’d be fun, right? It’s a wide-open story.
Yeah. A whole new research. Yes, that would be really exciting. I think, honestly, if I was going to pick an American era, I’d pick the 1960s.
I would not have guessed that. Why the sixties?
Well, I think it’s such a moment of transition in American culture and history. There’s so much going on. It’s the moment in which America is really confronting racism and sexism, and it’s a moment in which the enormous confidence of the fifties is first beginning to be slightly challenged. People are thinking about new directions and new ways. It’s a time when you’ve been through all that agricultural hell way back when and are trying to find a new way of interacting with the countryside. And I think that would be really interesting.
Okay. Well, I had not expected that but we’ll see what we can do [laughter].We’re going to start talking to folks here and see what we can do to get you over here. So, final question, most difficult one for anyone we ever have on this show, which is, and we ask it of everyone, what is your favourite historic place or site?
I’ve got so many. I don’t know really what to answer. Am I allowed about seven [laughter]?
I mean, we’ve got all the time in the world. We’re both quarantined. Why not?
Okay. All right. So, there’s two particular museums that I really couldn’t choose between. They both do something similar. They’re a collection of buildings moved from other places. So, one is St. Fagans and is the first museum I probably ever went to in my life as a baby. My mother was born in the cottage hospital next door and it’s the welsh museum of folk lives, and they started moving houses that were going to be demolished from all sorts of places in Wales to one location. So you can see traditional houses and obviously their contents, but also the fields around them and the stonewalling or the fencing types that went with that. And it’s somewhere I’ve been to from tiny, you know?
Just tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny. And they have in the past, on occasions, allowed me to live in some of their houses for short periods, so that’s also really exciting.
That’s pretty cool. And where in Wales is this? Is this in Cardiff?
It’s near Cardiff, so in the South of Wales. And it’s a very open and culturally friendly place. It’s unusual in British museums in that it’s not a middle-classy sort of a place. It’s very much an everybody sort of a place. So, in the evenings you can get an awful lot of the local kids off the council estates turning up for a bonfire and a bit of a misbehaviour [laughter].
Really, Okay. That sounds like a fun place.
It is a fun place. I like it a lot. The other is a museum that is similar, and I love it because they let me do so much there, and that’s the Weald and Downland Museum in West Sussex and it’s a similar idea, a different region of the country, Southern England, so the buildings are different and things. But the people there are really, really nice at letting me play in their buildings.
And this is an open-air museum where buildings have been moved there?
An open-air museum, yeah, yeah. And I’ve done huge amounts of things there, all sorts of things from charcoal burning to– well, you name it. So that’s it. And if I had to choose a historic house it would be Haddon Hall in Derbyshire, which is the most beautiful mediaeval, late mediaeval house. Oh, it’s got kitchens. Oh, I can’t tell you how lucky that is. There are so many beautiful houses, but normally the bits that are preserved are the posh rooms, great halls and bedrooms, and state chambers and things. But at Haddon they’ve got the kitchen suite, the original– it’s got an original 15th-century work surface. I can’t tell you how exciting that is.
And they let me use their ovens as well [laughter].
Oh, that’s pretty cool. That’s so–
It’s more than cool. It’s just like uber-cool.
And where in England is this?
Derbyshire. Okay. Very cool. Well, I mean, yeah. And, obviously, it’s hard to pick. It’s hard to pick in the U.S. but it must be extremely hard to pick there because it seems like every couple of feet you trip over a historic home in England. I mean, everything is historic there, speaking of which, do you live in a historic home?
I don’t anymore. I did used to live in an old house. We moved a year ago. And, yeah, obviously I really appreciate the old ones. I’ll tell you what I do appreciate. No damp. Oh, I love living in a house with no damp [laughter].
Yes, yes. Yeah. And a historic house comes with its own challenges and it’s sort of like a–
It does come with challenges. It’s sort of like a busman’s holiday for me because I get to go from work trying to save old buildings to come home and deal with my own old building. So, yeah. There’s that. And I hadn’t really thought about the damp issue, but obviously that is an issue in the UK.
It certainly is.
Yeah. Well, this has been such a pleasure. I appreciate so much you sharing your time with us and sharing your talents and your research with us here, and also on the screen, and hope to hear more and get to see and read your book soon which is coming out this fall I understand. The Domestic Revolution and How the Introduction of Coal in our Homes Changed Everything. And thank you so much for joining us today on PreserveCast.
Oh, thank you so much for inviting me. It’s been fun. Thank you.
Thanks for listening to PreserveCast. To dig deeper into this episode’s show, notes, and all previous episodes, visit PreserveCast. org. You can also find us online on Facebook and Twitter at PreserveCast. This program was supported by the Stork Preservation Education Foundation. PreserveCast is produced by Preservation Maryland in Baltimore City. Thanks again for your support and remember to keep preserving.