This wide-ranging book traces the development of popular culture in England from the Iron Age, when it first becomes apparent as a whole, to the eighteenth century. The concept of popular culture is here taken to be the body of ideas which is held by a people about itself and its environment, both physical and social, together with the tools and artefacts through which its members related to one another and to the outside world; it follows therefore that the general theme of the book is peoples' attitude to, and use of, their environment. After a short discussion of the Prehistoric and Roman cultures the book deals in depth with the essential foundations - shelter and housing, warmth and security, furnishings and domestic convenience, food and its preparation, and ultra-familial and ultra-communal relations. A separate chapter is devoted to the culture of towns. The text is illustrated throughout by objects, artefacts and structures, many of which are visual representations of earlier cultures, notably in sculpture and decoration.
'This is a brave and valuable book ... marvellously interesting, free-flowing descriptive passages and the outstanding achievement of marrying material culture with intellectual, ideological and aesthetic.' Peter Laslett, History Today
Introduction; 1. The view from Danebury; 2. Roman interlude; 3. House and household; 4. Heat, light and insecurity; 5. The house furnished; 6. Food, its production, preservation and preparation; 7. In sickness and in death; 8. The community of parish and village; 9. The family; 10. The culture of cities; 11. The foundations of popular culture; 12. Conclusion: the end of popular culture; Notes; Index.