People and Places gallery heading 1901: Living at the Time of the Census People and Places

East Tuddenham, Norfolk

East Tuddenham, Norfolk  
East Tuddenham and Honingham were two typical Norfolk farming villages, some nine miles west of Norwich. They shared a single village school and were both part of the ecclesiastical parish of Honingham St Andrew with East Tuddenham.
East Tuddenham and Honingham school, showing the headmaster, William J. Wright, female assistant teachers and pupils  -  link to an enlarged version


  1901 Census entry for William Wright, his wife Elizabeth and son Kenneth  -  link to an enlarged version

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The school played an important role in the taking of the 1901 Census. The headmaster, William J. Wright, acted as a census enumerator for both the 1891 and 1901 Censuses. The school also gave lessons on the census, as its logbook (held by Norfolk Record Office) notes. This was in line with the hopes of the Board of Education that 'in the case of the older children these lessons might be turned to practical advantage by promoting the accurate filling-up of the Census Schedules in the families to which these children belonged'.

  The 1901 Census returns show how heavily East Tuddenham was dependent on agriculture. In nearly 80% of its households, the main wage-earner worked on the land - as farmer, shepherd, teamster, cattleman or ordinary labourer. Basic wages for the Norfolk agricultural labourer, although still among the lowest in the country, had risen from about 10s a week in 1895 to between 12s and 13s by 1901. Rowntree and Kendall's 1913 study, How the Labourer Lives, showed how most of their families were living below the standard necessary for health and 'efficiency'.

Village shopkeepers throughout the county had also suffered from loss of trade both during the agricultural depression after 1875 and as urban rivals developed country rounds. L.M. Springall's study, Labouring Life in Norfolk Villages 1834-1914, comments that:

The older generation of village tradesmen and artisans carried on and made both ends meet with the help of some subsidiary employment, such as cultivating a piece of land, but when they died their sons did not succeed them, for they had left the parish…In this silent revolution the village became almost dependent upon Norwich and other large towns for supplies of common necessities.

Changes we associate with later in the 20th century were already well under way.

On the 1861 census, the population of the ecclesiastical parish of Honingham St. Andrew with East Tuddenham had been 840; by 1901 it had fallen to 745. Such rural depopulation was stimulated by the depression, by the introduction of new machines such as the binder and double-furrow plough that reduced the demand for casual labour and by better employment opportunities in the towns. Between 1891 and 1911, the number of agricultural labourers in Norfolk fell by 10%. However, a more detailed look at available statistics reveals that this was not a simple, continuous decline. Figures for the civil parish of East Tuddenham show that its population fell from 474 in 1891 to 415 in 1901, but rose again to 441 in 1911. In Honingham, there was also a modest rise.

  Follow this link to the agricultural economy. Valuation Office map showing East Tuddenham and Honingham school  -  link to an enlarged version

A rough idea of the scale of population change in East Tuddenham can be gauged by looking at the disappearance of family surnames in the village. Of the 96 surnames recorded in the 1891 census, less than 50% (46) were still present in the village 10 years later. This high degree of mobility is at odds with a nostalgic picture of unchanging rural society.

The drift to the towns gave rise to increasing concern around the turn of the century about whether the physical condition of the English people was deteriorating as a result of unhealthy urban living conditions. Jack London's The People of the Abyss, published in 1903, claimed that 'The average Mrs Thomas Mugridge has been driven into the city, and she is not breeding very much of anything save an anaemic and sickly progeny which cannot find enough to eat.'

East Tuddenham and Honingham School has now been closed and converted into a private residence.

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