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Sawston Village History Society

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About SVHS
The Sawston Village History Society normally meets on the second Thursday of every month (see diary for upcoming meetings). There's a wide range of speakers and subjects related to the history of Sawston and Cambridgeshire.

The next meeting, on July 9th 2015, will be the annual members' outing, this year taking us to Madingley Hall Gardens. See the diary for more details.

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Comments from visitors

Geoff wrote: I looked up your site after seeing an old newsreel from 1925 about the pea custom. I just thought I would drop you a line with the link in case you don't already know of it. As it may be an extra weapon to help you fight the bureaucracy that is threatening the event. British Pathe film of Sawston Peas.

Dot wrote: I am trying to trace the Samuel family for a friend. James Samuel lived in Great Shelford and was a miller and I believe there was a steam flour mill there. His children moved to Sawston and also became millers and one ran the pub in Sawston High Street. Could you tell me please - are you aware of any flour mills in Sawston? I have seen mention of the Dernford one and wondered if they ran that? Thanks for a wonderful site.

Can any of our readers and members help Dot? We look forward to publishing any of your contributions. Our thanks to Geoff for pointing us towards the fascination film - a real window on our past. Ed

The Sawston Community Archive Group (SCAG) now has a strong nucleus of members drawn from the Society, but is also open to non-SVHS members. Our mission (as they now say) is to create a digital archive of anything relating to Sawston, under the auspices of the Cambridgeshire Community Archive Network (CCAN), web site: We usually meet at the Sawston library (for times please contact Liz Dockerill on 835127) for on-line archiving sessions

An archive of former notices is available.

Recent Meeting Reports
June 2015 Meeting Report

Beck Laxton on Preparing to be a Tudor Peasant

On 11 June Beck Laxton (assisted by her son Sasha) talked about “Preparing to be a Tudor Peasant”, reports Tony Moss.

Beck has been volunteering for the past two years at Kentwell Hall (in Suffolk) during their weeks of re-enactment of Tudor life. She works in the dairy and bake-house as a peasant, speaking and acting as closely as possible to a 1588 woman.

She came dressed in the clothes she has made (with some assistance from the experts at Kentwell). She explained that the bottom layer next to the skin was linen. Linen has the advantage that it does not hold smells and stains as it is easily bleached by the sun. For women, this consists of a simple sleeved smock down to calf level. For men it consists of a shirt whose tail is brought up to the front between the legs. One or two layers of woollen garments (a red-skirted petticoat and a kirtle) were then worn over the smock, including detachable sleeves which were pinned on at the shoulder. Linen stockings were worn with woollen stockings over, kept up by knitted garters. For men, these came up over the knee. The womens woollen garments went over the shoulders so the weight of the upper bodice and skirt was taken on the shoulders for ease of movement and comfort. The two sides or front were spiral laced. A long linen apron completed the picture, together with a woollen or straw hat over a linen cap, and leather shoes. The gentry would have had finer outer materials and detachable ruffs at the neck and cuffs.

She illustrated her talk with many quotations from Shakespeare which referred to the clothing she described, and many paintings from the period.

Examples of brass pins, needles, baskets, spoons, purses with strings (pockets had not been invented), as well as clothing and materials, were also handed round for close inspection.

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