The Bousfield Diaries: A Middle-class Family in Late Victorian Bedford, Volume 86
Publication of the Bedfordshire Historical Record Society pub. by the Boydell Press, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 233 pages
The diaries of Charlotte Bousfield, extending from 1878 to 1896, paint a vivid picture of the activities of a multi-talented Bedford family, led by a strong-minded matriarch. They were prominent in local life: Charlotte's husband Edward was an influential figure in developing agricultural machinery at the Britannia Iron Works, Bedford's successful exemplar of a modern iron foundry, and important as a factor in the town's growth, while Will, the ablest of the children, became a QC and Conservative MP, whose election campaigns are described in lively detail. Charlotte, meanwhile, was also active, both in the town and further afield: her concern for the underprivileged in the town, a practical expression of her fervent Methodist beliefs, emerges clearly in her lifelong work for the temperance cause, locally and nationally. She founded a home for 'inebriate women', which was ground-breaking for the time, and whose work she describes in fascinating detail. She was also a Poor Law Guardian, and a leading figure in the Bedford Workhouse scandal of the 1890s. Throughout, the diaries bring out some aspects of Victorian social life which are not always obvious: the dependence of the family on their servants; the ease of travelling using railways and horse-drawn transport; the frequency with which family members would spend time staying with friends and relatives. Edited here with notes and introduction, they bring the past vividly to life.
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afternoon Alpha Villa amongst arrived Aspley Heath Aunt Jenny Bedford Bedford Modern School Bedford School Bedfordshire Blue Ribbon Bousfield Britannia Iron Bromham BWTA called carriage CEB's Chapel Charlotte Charlotte's Chelmsford Church Clara Committee meeting Corn Exchange Cricklewood daughter diary entry dinner drink drove early Edward Elstow Father feel Florence fortnight Friars Walk Friday friends girls glad Hall Hattie's holiday hope Howard Husband invited John John's Kempston ladies leaving letter living London looking Lottie & Hattie Mattie Miss Monday month morning Mother night o'clock Papa Papa's Patients Pavenham pleasure present promised returned home Saturday School seemed soon Southend Southport spent St Swithins Station stay Sunday Temperance temperance movement thankful thought Thurlow St Thursday told took town train Tuesday Ventnor village walk Wednesday week whilst wife Will's wish women Xmas