Sunday, 26 February 2012

Waste not , Want not.

I've been reading a little book from the library called 'A Cotswold Rag-Bag' by Bert Butler.The book is full of small stories and reminiscence's of Winchcombe around 1920. One story talks of the Rag Bag, String Bag and the paper bag. All were saved for future use, clothes had patches upon patches. Emma Dent who lived at Sudeley Castle liked to see her Gardner's with patched clothes,it was a sign of ''thrifty wives,ragbag owners,worthy women indeed''. In my eyes it was more a case of them not having ''two shillings to rub together''....I'm sure Mrs Dent must have realised. I was talking to my Mum about it and she laughed saying that she once got a job because her jodphurs had patches on the knees. Mum looked a hard worker..which indeed she still is. When I first started in business people used to say you can't turn up for jobs in that old moggy (morris van) ,you should have something smart. I haven't changed I still drive old long as they go and pass their MOT then I'm fine.
Another saying is 'As the twig is bent, so is the tree inclined' in other words if you are brought up being thrifty then you carry on being so.
The story also tells of the men walking to work always carrying a 'frail'. This was a bag made of woven rushes in which they carried their dinner. On the way back home they would fill it with seasonal food such as mushrooms, apples, turnip tops,rabbits and kindling wood for the fire. The families could  ' make a pound do the work of thirty shillings'.
The wives would do 'sides to middles' to make the sheets last longer and would sun bake brussel sprout stems to fuel the copper. Near my parents house there used to be a beautiful old forest stone cottage, it was a two up two down with a lean to laundry room with a copper. Down the garden was the piggery. I would have loved that house just as it was but it was pulled down and replaced with a large brick house and plastic conservatory.

The opposite saying was ' if they had five pounds of wick they'd still be in trouble'
I do love some of the old simple ways, life seems so complicated these days. I put a little range into my living room. In the winter it is gorgeous,not madly hot but the kettles boiling and there is food cooking in the oven....lovely.
Thank you Bert for your stories.

The following links are to two books, the first 'Emma Dent' and the second to a book my parents gave me when i started college...I've still got it and it's full of information from upholstery to indoor plants.
A very good read is 'the lady of Sudeley' written by our own lovely Jean Bray.


  1. Here in the US we have always had a rag bag-well i have a rag box-my mom cuts open two worn socks and stitches them together for a great dust rag

  2. Hi Julia, Thanks for commenting and for the good tip !



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