Sunday, 10 July 2011

A Farmer's Wife and Daughter

It has been a long time since I made any blocks for The Farmer's Wife quilt and as you can see I managed to make block 11 - Broken Dishes. It seemed a good opportunity to tell you a little story that is interesting and appropriate for this quilt.

Last year at my mum's flat I came across this diary. Mum said that she bought it at a book sale at Keele University some years ago and that she bought it because it was of local interest. I didn't get to tell her all that I found out. My sister in Law Sandra is also interested in geneaology and she did a lot of research for me.

The diary belongs to Anne Burnett Hambleton and is dated 1883. She was born in 1865 the daughter of a well off farming family. By looking through geneaology web sites discovered that she married her cousin Arthur Hambleton, also a farmer. They were a well known and prosperous family from the Butterton area of Leek, Staffordshire. We also learn that they married in London in 1889. We wonder why. They went on to have at least two children.

The diary cost 1 shilling and could have been a Christmas present. The writing sometimes is difficult to read, sometimes written in ink and much neater and other times in pencil and scribbled. It has some interesting entries and things that we take so much for granted.

It appears in the diary that Anne lived with an Uncle and at this point we don't know why, but this house was quite large as it had a billiard room. She mentions that she had a wash in the newly installed bath and that she had her head washed as opposed to a hair wash and that she was allowed to wear her hair up for dinner. Her Uncle had promised her "some pretty , gold things" for her next birthday. Imagine her excitement at watching a magic lantern show for the first time. Here we are with all our technology and I am able to tell you all this and I wonder what she would have made of it.

Most of the entries in the diary tell of her studies assuming at this point that she is still a student. Anne went away to school and was living in Birkdale, Lancashire in 1881. We know that she was musical and sang in recital's at the town hall. She tells of receiving 3 valentine's cards, 2 of which she thinks came from male family members, the other is a mystery beau. I also think from the diary that she may have had a crush on someone as she mentions him only by initials and mostly she saw him at church. She also tells of paying 7/6d for a pair of shoes. A princely sum of money. I think she also had a little streak of mischief as she tells of being told off for mocking a teacher.

The burning question for me is, did she meet William Morris? She certainly moved in such society and William Morris was a frequent visitor to the area. Still a lot more to find out. They have a lot of family papers in the vaults at the local museum so, if and when I find out anymore, I shall let you know.

This means that I now have a plan for my Farmer's wife blocks and I shall dedicate it to Anne Burnett Hambleton - A Farmer's Wife and Daughter.

Happy Stitching

Love Shirley.


  1. What a great story. Australia does not have a lot of history. I was looking at a Black Bird designs book called a Stitcher Journey. Which has a story about a Stitchery sampler it is so interesting. Love you farmers wife block.

  2. That is a really good idea Shirley, dedicating the quilt to Anne. I wonder if she did meet William Morris. I have not made much progress on my Farmer's Wife blocks lately but I have decided that it will be a lap quilt. Even so I still have to make about 50 blocks. I feel as though I will have to add some applique to all the pieced blocks. We'll see what happens.
    Take care.

  3. Very interesting Shirley and I really like your blocks. I have the FW book so I may start the blocks someday.

  4. Shirley this is a really interesting story - I love delving into historical aspects about people' lives and I will look forward to the next instalment. I too would like to know why she married in London? I have the Farmers Wife book sitting on a shelf in the studio and will definitely have another look at it but not this week! Take care.

  5. What an interesting story... a fascinating glimpse into another time...very fitting that you dedicate it to Anne. I too have the book awaiting attention - your block is lovely and its good to see them laid out.

  6. Lovely to see the blocks that you have done and so interesting to hear about the history that you are intending to dedicate them to. Look forward to the next instalment.

  7. Amazing Shirley...what a lovely diary to have and read all about this Anne. Things like this is so interesting, to read, how they lived in that time, what things cost etc..
    Australia doesn't have a lot of history, well recorded that I know would be lovely for someone to come up with a quilt dedicated to our history..
    Your block is lovely,so glad you now have something to inspire you to make more blocks
    Julia ♥

  8. \isn't that something? I've never really kept a diary although I do write of the cottage life here, but this is not history yet...maybe someone will find my books too.
    Loved the tale...give us more when you can.
    It's hard finding time to quilt sometime.

  9. I love history, at least as it relates to women or romance or quilting. (History bored me to tears in school.) I'm looking forward to the next installment of Anne's story when you have more to share with us.
    I still haven't pulled my FW book off the shelf, but one of these days I won't be able to resist any longer.

  10. How very interesting! I think dedicating this quilt to Anne is not only a wonderful idea, but she will help you along in getting it done! :)