Bradfer-Lawrence - a rather different kind of collection

Daily life of a young lady in the 1820s

The Bolland family lived in Settle and they sometimes stayed in their house in York. The parents, William and Margaret Bolland, had five daughters. Margaret was the eldest, then came Elizabeth, Mary, Jane and Susanna. Margaret the daughter collected together many of the letters she received and kept them safely in files. She later kept a diary.

Look at the letter, 1821

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(You can see more details about the letter by clicking it. When you want to get back to this page use the 'back' button in your browser).
In 1821 Margaret, then aged 15, was living away from home. She was boarding at Miss Simpson’s academy at Adwick Hall near Doncaster. She looked forward to receiving news from home and her father wrote to her regularly. In this letter he tells her about the goings on at the assize courts where trials were held, various friends and relatives, including the deaths in the Dixon family and the happier news of her cousin Jane’s engagement. Margaret’s sisters had been taken to see a play and her mother was busy making up a box of sweets and cakes to send to her at school.
1. Does Margaret’s father seem interested in her progress at school?
2. Do you think Margaret will have missed home life?

Look at the diary entries, 1825

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Margaret Bolland was aged 20 at this time, and she was staying with relatives whom she calls Mrs D. and Mr D. She often went out visiting friends in the neighbourhood, riding either in a carriage or on horseback, and sometimes on foot.
A ‘waist’ was a blouse or short jacket.
As you see, Margaret sometimes wrote in code.
1. Do you think Margaret enjoyed her stay?
2. Was she homesick?
3. How did she fill in the day at home? Name four things which she did indoors.
4. Would you have found Margaret’s days boring?
5. Why do you think she used code in her diary?
6. Do you think it was a difficult code to break?
7. Imagine you are Margaret: write a diary entry for a day when the weather was bad and one for a sunny warm day (remember it’s winter)

Look at the ‘crossed’ letter, 1829

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On first look, this seems impossible to read! The early postal system and taxes on paper made it desirable to use every square inch of paper, sometimes more than once and quite a few of the letters which Margaret received were written ‘crossed’ – often those written by her thrifty female friends and relatives. This long letter, from Margaret’s friend Sarah Elisabeth Smith, describes a holiday in North Wales.
1. Why does Sarah describe everything in such detail?
2. Do you think Margaret had ever been to Wales?
3. Try writing a letter to a friend or relative about what you did one holiday, writing ‘crossed’

Look at the cartoon sketches

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These were drawn by different people, but we don’t know exactly who, besides Margaret.
The characters are wearing clothes typical of those days.
1. Would you think the clothes comfortable to wear?
2. What are the main differences between the clothing worn then and what people wear nowadays?
3. How is the hobby-horse bicycle different from ones which are ridden now? What doesn’t it have? How do you think the rider stopped the bicycle?