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A Year in the Life of Halligill

Keith H. Cooper


Researching the history of Dial House in the village of Great Asby led to the chance discovery of a diary, kept in the year of 1875, by an occupant of that house, John Brunskill. It was a year when he farmed at Halligill, almost thirty years later he moved, a distance of a little over one mile, to Dial House. Diary entries are simple and spare.
This book adds depth to these entries by using material from local newspapers and from contemporary farming manuals, together with the recollections of a local farmer, the late Harry Saul, who once farmed next door to Halligill and whose working life in the 1950s may, in some ways, have been very similar to that of John Brunskill, many years before. These different sources are combined to breathe life into John Brunskill’s daily round on a small, mixed, upland hill farm in Asby parish in 1875.

The author, Keith Cooper, is a native of County Durham, spending much of his early life in a farm setting. He studied modern history at the University of Oxford but did not pursue a career related to that discipline. After a working life spent largely in university administration in Ireland and the UK, he retired in 2013.
Since retirement, he has developed a new enthusiasm for history, especially for the study of local history. He moved to Cumbria in 2017 but has had a connection with Great Asby, near Appleby in Westmorland, for more than twenty years. This volume grew from one facet of Keith’s many and wide-ranging explorations of the history and landscape of this parish.


Hayloft Publishing



Publication Date:



Paperback; 200 x 140mm




Some black and white photographs

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