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A brief history of living and working in the Groningen Hoogeland in the 19th century

Rural life in the 19th century

Back in time. North Groningen in the 19th century and the early 20th century. Expansive farmland surrounds small villages on mounds. Rich Groningen farmers –the gentlemen farmers – rule the roost in the economic, social and political sphere. On the land, but also in the imposing farmhouses with beautiful gardens and barns like cathedrals, there is work for personnel that lives on site or off site. Most people in the villages earn their living in farming, either as a farmhand, labourer, cowherd, a maid or in service. Depending on the season, the children help out on the land or look after the younger brothers and sisters whilst their parents are at work.

Shopkeepers and the notables

Most shopkeepers (the butcher, the painter, the grocer’s) and the notables (the vicar, teacher and the doctor) earn their daily bread in the village itself. Apart from a neutral doctor, vet and constable, every faith has its own church, school, shops, bars and associations. The villages only ‘cross faiths’ during the fairs, cattle markets and public auctions.

Museum shows a living mounded village

The most important connections between the villages are the countless waterways, mass paths and gravel or dirt roads. Industry only develops later. Except for the windmills, everything is done by hand. The museum shows a mounded village in its original environment, surrounded by arable farming and with old mass paths between the houses, workshops and shop premises.