During the summer of 2013 I started reading the diaries of my great great grandfather, William Courtenay Morland, which are housed in the Maidstone Archives. His diary entries were short and succinct, but reading several years’ worth of them started to give me a really good feel for life at Court Lodge in the second half of the nineteenth century.
This entry from 1867 reads
“Wrote Marriott as to shooting, Pulham as to rock work, and MEM [his wife, Margaretta Eliza Morland]. Saw sundry persons on business. Walked to Parsonage and Little Cold Harbor. Engaged some time with Mr Wheeler. Worked at Estate Accounts with Maude. MEM went to Folkestone. Wind W dull.”
The entries are all about who he wrote to and about what, where he walked to, things that were going on at Court lodge, and invariably they ended with a description of the weather.
Reading these diary entries, and building up a picture of what was happening at Court Lodge 150 years ago, started me thinking about recording what’s going on here and now. Our days at Court Lodge are so busy, so filled with a vast variety of tasks, both small and apparently menial, and large and significant, that it’s easy to lose sight of what we’ve achieved and what progress we’ve already made.
It’s also easy to see parallels between what was happening in WCM’s time and what is happening now. For instance, he was often exercised about getting sufficient manure for the garden, and we have exactly the same problem!
So just over a year ago I decided to start keeping a diary of everything that goes on here. Being a 21st Century girl, I found an app for the job – Day One. I like to think I take after my great great grandfather in this regard. He was an innovator and introduced lots of new inventions and technologies into Court Lodge. For example, he is responsible for our central heating system! He also had a steam engine on the estate. He was a very forward-thinking Victorian.
So anyway, I’ve been keeping this diary for just over a year now, and I decided to see how much I’ve written in that time. I exported all my entries and did a quick word count. I was amazed to see that I’ve written over 120,000 words already! Much of it will of course be humdrum and not very interesting, but hopefully, one day, it will all be invaluable source material for a book about our adventure here at Court Lodge. More importantly though, it will help future generations piece together what happened here in the early 21st Century, just like WCM’s diaries are helping me piece together what happened here in the 19th.