Home 1901

Life in Stowupland in 1901 for the average family was difficult, dangerous and dirty. There were no sewers, no mains water and no electricity. Interior of the farm kitchen at Prior Farm, Nacton, near Ipswich ©Gressenhall Workhouse Museum
Interior of the farm kitchen at Prior Farm, Nacton,
near Ipswich ©Gressenhall Workhouse Museum
Homes were overcrowded and often poorly built. Wages were low, as little as 8 shillings a week (40 pence) and many families had very few possessions.

Even farmers had few personal possessions as can be seen in the photographs of the kitchens at Prior Farm, Nacton, Suffolk and White House, Saham Toney, Norfolk. Life expectancy was 45 for men and 49 for women.

A Reporters View

A ‘special correspondent ‘of the Daily News reported that overcrowded homes were a problem as was the attitude of the employer towards his employees.

“I had a conversation with a farmer of Stowupland—one who had formerly been a labourer—on this question of housing. He had been referring to the difficulty of procuring labour and remarked that something would have to be done to retain the men in the villages or the matter would become very serious. Asked what he thought ought to be done, he said –They want to be treated more as men. Their treatment in the past has been disgraceful, the effort of farmer and squire alike has been to keep them down—to keep them dependant.

. . . I have known places in which sixteen people lived in two rooms, there were three beds in a room and you could hardly move between them. I have had to live like that myself. I could tell you of a case near here where there is a house with only one bedroom, there is man and his wife and a grown up daughter and two sons and they all sleep in one room.”

New Housing

The village would have had many of these small, cramped cottages but down by the railway station there were many changes. 109 new houses were built between 1851 and 1901, most of which were rows of brick-built terraces.

Photograph of the Kitchen of the White House, Saham Toney
Kitchen of the White House, Saham Toney
from the family of Sidney George
©Gressenhall Workhouse Museum
The population of Stowupland increased from 966 to 1326 during this period.

Many of these new houses were near the River Gipping and are now in the parish of Stowmarket. They housed labourers from the gas works and other industries that surrounded the river.

Unlike many Victorian terraces the ones in Stowupland had gardens and were somewhat superior to the old cottages in the main part of the village.

This exhibition is part of a wider sustainability project delivered through the Rural Museums East Partnership. It is funded by Renaissance East of England.

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