Tom Cheke’s story unfolds in the 1620s. While I was researching his memoir, I made a very useful discovery that provided valuable glimpses into what life was like in southern England almost four centuries ago.
My discovery was Little Woodham, in the parish of Rowner, in Hampshire. Little Woodham is the recreation of a 17th century rural village, which would have been similar to Tom’s own village of Mottistone. The village is run as a ‘living museum’ by the Gosport Living History Society. It is set in 1642 – slightly later than Tom’s memoir – but not much would have changed in so short a time.
Coincidentally, in Tom’s memoir, one of the farmers who petitioned the Duke of Buckingham (while he was living just across the water in Portsmouth) for fair recompense came from Rowner.
The following photographs, which I took in 2010, provide glimpses into 17th century village life and help us to imagine what Tom’s world (in England at least) would have been like.