The local newspapers of the time provide an invaluable adjunct to Mary Hardy’s record, as the editorial notes flanking the diary text show. These broadsheets were published weekly.
All the editions of the Norwich Mercury for every week 1771–1810 were pored over for this project. The resulting discoveries fill the gaps created by the diarist’s laconic style of diary-keeping.
The advertisements dominating the two Norwich papers open a gateway to the Hardys’ world. Indebted innkeepers facing bankruptcy, public houses to let, sales of farming stock, meetings of enclosure commissioners, dates of fairs, and of hiring sessions for servants: the medley is endless.
Shedding light on the business world
Just one example can stand as an illustration. During his Coltishall years Mary Hardy’s husband answered almost every newspaper advertisement for a Norfolk or east Suffolk brewery of his own.
William Hardy responded to the press notice seen here for the Letheringsett brewery of the late Henry Hagon. It is still kept in the Hardy family papers. The wording was designed to attract a hard-headed manufacturer: ‘. . . No other brewery near for several miles ‘. Further, it was only 15 miles from his wife’s beloved family base. It was indeed well placed, and he bought it at auction.
The flood of notices by Hagon’s executors also listed some of the tied houses. The most modest, paying the smallest rent, was run by a widow on the Walsingham road at Hindringham. The Falgate (top) closed in 1925, having been supplied by and tied to Letheringsett for well over a century.
The Mary Hardy volumes provide a useful record of 101 public houses supplied by the Hardys, with many more which slipped through their hands. The very clear, user-friendly Norfolk public houses website brings readers up to date, usually quoting data from the directories of 1836 onwards and, where appropriate, giving the date of closure.