Book Review – May 2014 – Sallie Eden

A Country Parson: James Woodforde’s Diary 1759-1802 – Foreword by John Julius Norwich and instruction by Ronald Blythe

AcountryParsonFirst published by Oxford University Press in 1924, currently out of print but available online

With none of the coarseness of Pepys and with more spontaneity than Evelyn, Parson Woodforde’s diary is in a different league.

A Norfolk cleric with a keen eye for country life and an even keener eye for the absurd, his observational skills, together with the ability to record life at its best and worst, make for delightful bedtime reading. Not to everyone’s taste but I enjoyed dipping into it over the course of a month or two.

To whet your appetite, I quote from 1767, 1781 and 1782:

“Mrs Melliar was fashionably frightened into a fit after supper at the Doctor’s, but soon well.”

“..we took a ride to the House of Industry…about 380 Poor in it now, but they don’t look either healthy or cheerful..”

“The poor woman whom I sent some veal to Sunday died yesterday morning – she eat nothing afterwards till she died, but she eat hearty of the veal I sent her.”

They don’t make parsons like that any more!

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