Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The basis of an economy, and if all else fails, you can eat it too!

Sunday was free admission day at the Museum of East Anglian Life, Stowmarket's premier tourist attraction. Ros and I only actually knew this because the Committee Administrator for Stowmarket Town Council told us (admittedly, that's Sally Scott, as in Ros's daughter), but it seemed like a fun thing to do, especially as I'd never been.

The museum itself is right in the heart of the town, opposite Asda, and comprises of a deceptively large patch of land containing a number of preserved buildings, some farm animals, and exhibits of agricultural stuff. To mark the occasion, there was a small funfair and two steam engines.

However, I was more interested in the livestock. There were chickens, some enormous pigs, rabbits, sheep and goats. The sheep weren't exactly a popular attraction, but for those with an interest in the history of East Anglia, and in particular Suffolk, they represent something quite important - the basis of the wealth that built some of the finest architecture that this country possesses.

For it was the wool industry that made Suffolk one of the wealthiest parts of the country in the Middle Ages and, for that matter, right up to the Industrial Revolution. Sales of wool and woollen cloth across northern Europe and beyond brought wealth and power to what is now a sleepy corner of rural England.

Ros is still surprised by my interest in such things, but I'm just taking an interest. After all, you really should understand why your locality is as it is...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Presume you mean places like Lavenham here Mark when you refer to the wool trade in East Anglia creating great welath and with it great archictecture?

I remember my GCSE Religious Studies teacher telling me that lots of guilty wool merchants in Suffolk and Norfolk built great churches to keep their workers happy and to try and buy their way into heaven!