Come into the Garden, Maud …

Women workers are rarely recorded on official records. There are vague references to weeding women and female stone-pickers, but detail is hard to come by. There are some intriguing glimpses into what may have been more widespread practice: Eliza Plimsow (64) was recorded on the 1881 Census as a market gardener, and ten years later, Jane England (63) was a gardener’s assistant. In 1911, Jane Boull (61) worked as a carter at a market garden and Catherine Farrant (69) prepared vegetables for market.

Oral reports say that younger women also worked, picking and bunching violets and daffodils and picking fruit during the day when their children were at school. Market gardening families employed daughters as ‘assistants’, and their sons often married women from other gardening families. A few of these women became market gardeners in their own right.