The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening tours by J.C. Loudon 1831-1842
Chapter: Northern England and Southern Scotland in 1841

Miserable farm cottages

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We cannot help remarking that in the midst of fields covered with the most luxuriant crops, the rows of cottages by the road side had the most miserable appearance. No variety in their form, magnitude, or materials; no difference in the size of their windows, or in their chimney tops; no porch; no front garden; no creepers or climbers on the walls; no flowers to be seen anywhere; and few or no windows, except those on the ground floor, to give the idea of a bed-room floor. The same line of dull stone side wall, and of slate, stone, or thatched roof; the walls with small windows, the broken panes of glass in which are often stuffed with rags; occur at intervals all along the road, forming a notable contrast with the wealth displayed in the villas, the farm-houses, the fields, and even the fences and roads. The agricultural labourers' cottages, in short, seem the only part of the general scenery in Scotland that has undergone little or no improvement. We know scarcely any difference in their appearance now from what it was forty years ago, when we first passed through this part of the country. The farm-houses and fences, on the other hand, have been almost everywhere entirely rebuilt since that time. We saw only one attempt at an ornamental cottage between Glasgow and Uddingstone, and that was at a turnpike-gate. Every attempt at improvement deserves to be encouraged, and the only fault that we shall find in the present case is, that the side walls of this cottage were much too low. There is an idea prevalent among architects, more especially in Scotland, that the dwellings of the poor must exhibit an appearance of poverty and humility, however much they may be ornamented; and hence the low side walls and the narrow dimensions of gate lodges and other ornamental cottages built on gentlemen's estates, which, however, are ornamented exteriorly to an extent most ridiculous, when compared with the low ceilings and scanty accommodation within; as if a poor man did not require as large a volume of air to breathe in as a rich one. This is, no doubt, in part owing to the want of thought in architects, but it is, we are persuaded, in part also to the sycophant properties inherent in our countrymen, and to their want of moral courage (see p. 135.).