The leisure activities of the rural working classes with special reference to Norfolk 1840-1940

King, Carole (2015) The leisure activities of the rural working classes with special reference to Norfolk 1840-1940. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

[thumbnail of 2015KingCVPhD.pdf]
Download (6MB) | Preview


This thesis seeks to address an acknowledged gap in the historiography of leisure – that of rural working class leisure activities. The first objective of this thesis is therefore to investigate different types of rural leisure, including ‘rational recreation’, traditional and innovative, and gender-specific pastimes. Using Norfolk as a case study, I examined a range of different leisure opportunities. The second objective is to question the changing nature of leisure provision and the impact that this had on rural lives, and it was found that opportunities for leisure increased considerably throughout the period 1840-1940. This was brought about by better working conditions, including fewer working hours and higher wages. Technology also played a key role, providing increased availability of transport, both public and personal, and this allowed access to urban recreations, unavailable in the countryside. Some traditional pastimes endured, while others were replaced by new forms of entertainment, such as the cinema and modernised fairground attractions. Other innovations included the rise of local sports, for instance cricket and football, and alternatives to the public house – reading rooms and village halls, the latter being open to all sections of society and not solely men. Arguably, rural women benefited most from these remarkable transformations. The introduction of new societies, such as the Mothers’ Union and the Women’s Institute led to considerably enhanced lives for their members. There is clear evidence of the gradual adjustment from widespread philanthropy to self-determination among working people, and together with the remarkable alteration in outlook produced by the First World War, this increasingly caused local communities to take control of their own leisure provision. This is consistent with the social changes occurring in all spheres of rural life.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: Nicola Veasy
Date Deposited: 03 May 2016 14:26
Last Modified: 03 May 2016 14:26

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item