During Victoria's reign the English countryside saw more rapid and far-reaching changes than had been experienced in perhaps all the preceding centuries. These changes were the result of increasing industrialization, the move toward urban settlement, greater reliance on imported foodstuffs and the mass-production of fabric and clothing. Professor Mingay provides an account of how the lives of landowners, farmers, labourers, industrial workers and professional people were affected as technological, economic and social change brought about deep and permanent changes to rural communities. The period was one of great unrest in the allegedly peaceful English countryside, as rioters pillaged food stores and broke machinery, and the work of incendiarists illuminated the night sky. The picture which emerges from this account is one of gradually improving living conditions for many who had suffered harsh poverty in the Victorian countryside, but at the cost of the disappearance of a traditional way of life and a sense of identity which was never to be replaced.
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