Farming and agriculture was the most
common occupation for the men of Cottingham in 1841 and 1901. There would
also have been seasonal work for women and children.
In medieval times, a church bell was rung in the
morning (usually 5am) to summon villagers to work. In Cottingham, another bell
was rung at noon to tell workers in the fields that it was midday.
Within Rockingham Forest
there were areas of common grazing land for Cottingham and the neighbouring
villages. Animals grazing on this land were branded with a symbol to identify
them according to the local rhyme "Oakley O, Gretton G, Corby cross and
Cottingham key". The key and cross symbols for Cottingham and Corby were also
used on a boundary stone which used to stand on Cottingham
In the 17th Century, it was
common for villagers to leave land, animals and produce to their families in
their wills, for example:
Thomas Peake, husbandman,
Cottingham (Wd 13 Feb 1690) left five woods
of land in Cottingham to his wife Elizabeth
and eldest son Thomas.
Elizabeth Peake, widow,
Cottingham (Wd 30 Jan 1698) left the brown buck mare
to Thomas Peake, a cow to Ann Chapman and,
to John Peake,
'three maires and horse and geare and the waggon
cart plows and harrows'.
to Maureen Bryson for the will information)
Daphne Joiner (nee Cannam)'s father
was forced to leave school at 12 (in 1920) to work on his father's farm in
Church Street. She recalls her father telling her tales of walking to Market
Harborough with cattle for the market, and milking cows in the fields where
Cottingham school is today before carrying the milk back to Church Street in
pails on a yoke. He ran away from home at the age of 16 to become a
gardener at Rockingham Castle!