Apr 202017
 

Welcome to the world of one-place studies! Twenty-six of our members are sharing something in their particular place for this year's A-Z Blogging Challenge. Elizabeth Walne took up the challenge of the letter Q for her study of Badingham in Suffolk.

quarrelling women
So much of history is recorded because of disagreements rather than accords. At one extreme there are wars and battles - and at the other, minor spats and differences of opinion. Some are settled by duel, others by magistrates. Many more are dealt with "in house" during the course of everyday life.

From a One-Place Study point of view, documented quarrels can add bring characters of the past back to vivid technicolour, albeit with a pinch of salt. Take my OPS of Badingham, Suffolk. Newspapers, of course, thrive on quarreling. The following illuminating snippet can be found in the Framlingham Weekly News, the local paper, on 20 July, 1907 (Page 4, Column 5):

BADINGHAM NEIGHBOURS’ QUARRELS

CONTINUAL STRIFE

Before Mr J W Read and other Magistrates at the Court House on Saturday, Emma Burrows, married woman, Badingham, was charged by Emily Goddard, married woman, with using threatening language towards her. – Complainant said she lived next door to defendant, who had behaved shamefully towards her. She threatened to throw her in the pond adjoining the house, and one day she ran her indoors with a stick. Witness was so much afraid of defendant doing her injury that she kept indoors for several days with the doors locked. She had not done anything to annoy defendant. – Harriet Smith, a neighbor, who complained to the Bench of a weak heart, said the rows between the two women had been unbearable; she had given notice to leave her house, as she could not put up with it any longer. – Defendant called her husband, who surprised his wife by stating that he thought one was as bad as the other. – The Magistrates bound the defendant over in the sum of £5 to be of good behavior for six months, and pay 5s costs.

I daresay most of the village – not an enormous place - would have been aware of the quarreling between Emma and Emily. The 1911 census shows that Emma Burrows (still with her husband John!) and Harriet Smith (who, it seems, didn’t move house) were still living near the Mission Hall. So, too, was Emily Goddard...

The newspaper article raises as many questions (a previous topic for 'Q'!) as it answers. What lies behind the lines? Did the women ever make their peace? How serious were the threats? Did one or other of the women end up in the duck pond?! (...Q is for 'quack'). Are there further articles in the local press that can supplement the story? Were the events recorded in diaries or letters that have made their way to an archive? Was there a lasting feud between the families or even beyond? What on Earth did Emma say to her husband after her court appearance?

While the above example is unlikely to have drawn up long-lasting battle lines or had a direct impact on the physical development of the village, other quarrels, especially involving rich and influential people, could well leave more permanent changes on the landscape or within the community.

In My Place, a quarrel is worth investigating.

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