Exhibition at a glance

Bailiffgate Museum, Our Agricultural Heritage
Bailiffgate Museum, Our Agricultural Heritage

The fascinating story of the development of agriculture in Alnwick and District will be brought to life in the new exhibition at the Bailiffgate Museum.

Starting with the Norman Conquest in 1066, and including the role of the early Norman lords and the canons and monks of the abbeys and priories, the display tells the story of agricultural heritage up to the end of the 19th century.

The exhibition, entitled Our Agricultural Heritage, covers events that changed the landscape of the district, the people who worked the fields and fells and the countryside traditions that developed.

This story of agriculture in the area touches on many themes and significant changes through time.

So many events have affected agriculture in the district, from the impact of border warfare and the eventual cessation of border hostilities, to the Agrarian Revolution, the Corn Laws and the Enclosures.

Improvements were carried out by the Dukes of Northumberland, Earl Grey of Howick, and the Freemen, who cultivated parts of Alnwick Moor.

Local men such as John Common of Denwick invented innovative agricultural machinery.

The exhibition, which started yesterday, provides interesting details of the different types of farming carried out, the lives and labours of agricultural workers, hinds and bondagers and traditional farm-related events, such as Kern Suppers, Harvest Festivals and Hirings.

Anecdotal stories from old newspapers and other publications add interest to the exhibition, together with photographs and farming artefacts on loan from Beamish Museum.

There will also be booklets on special topics of interest such as Alnwick Strawberries and The Northumbrian Bondager.

As part of the exhibition, author Dinah Iredale will be showing the film The Forgotten Workers on Friday, September 21, at 7.30pm.

This dramatic portrayal of life on a 19th-century Borders farm gives a unique insight into the lives of the hinds and their bondagers.

Set in 1866, it shows resentment reaching fever pitch as the hiring season approaches and an attempt is made to get rid of the Bondage System for good.

Meet the bondagers, hinds, squire, farmer and vicar and hear their thought-provoking opinions.

Written by Dinah Iredale, who is author of the popular book Bondagers, the film is based on original documents and eye-witness accounts and has been beautifully brought to life by Shadowcat Films.

It was filmed entirely on location in Kirknewton, Westnewton and Paxton House.

Admission to the film is £3 per person and there will be light refreshments and a raffle.

Copies of the book and DVD will be on sale throughout the exhibition and the author will sign any copies bought on the evening of the film.

To book a place for the film, contact the museum for tickets in advance or turn up on the night.

Jane Nolan, museum trustee, is delighted the Alnwick venue is hosting the agricultural-themed exhibition.

“Farming is a crucial part of our heritage so we are excited to host this exhibition, which is really interesting and has great variety. We are excited about the film presentation too,” she said.