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The Health of the People


Judging by the average age of death and the number of children dying before reaching adulthood, Elsfield seems to have been a healthy place to live, compared with the national picture and became more so as the century progressed. The picture emerging from this data does suggest that in some ways the idea of the rural idyll was a true one compared with life in some of our towns, but we should not downplay the sheer misery of day to day living for some of the poor of the village, especially in the winter. The School Log Books catalogue the coughs and colds, the accidents, the swollen feet and burst chilblains of the children who could not get to school, the epidemics which swept through the population: measles, diphtheria, scarlet fever, whooping cough and the occasional deaths from diseases such as influenza. As Reay says, “The health experience of agricultural labourers may have been better than that of other occupations, relatively speaking, yet for many it was a life of suffering and pain.”

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