Friday, February 18, 2011

Turnips - places, artifacts, and serendipity

When we were in our old place, many people asked "why the name Turnip House?" We would tell them that the first workshop we had was called 'the turnip house' by tradition, being the building where the turnips were stored for animal feed in the winter months, when the grass is poor.

We did not have a name for our knitwear business at first, but we did become accustomed to going "across to the turnip house to do some knitting" and so the name grew on us

It is not widely known that the turnip has a noble place in the history of agricultural development (I didn't know either!)

The British Agricultural Revolution in which Charles "Turnip" Townshend (2nd Viscount Townshend)1674 – 1738 played such a large part, did not have the same impact here in Ireland.

But growing turnips (and swedes and beets) had a vital role to play in agriculture, enabling productive feed to be grown on normally fallow ground.

In older times, the turnips would have been cut up by hand, and spread across the fields or in troughs for the livestock to eat. As agriculture became increasingly mechanised, cutting and pulping machines were developed.

On hearing that we were called 'Turnip House' some would say "you need to have a turnip mangle then" This was the machine for cutting up the vegetables.

We never did get one - until now. 

When we first looked at this place, one of the 'gifts' that we saw was this turnip mangle, lying outside the outbuildings. 

It stands to reason: if there's a turnip mangle..... there must have been a turnip house!

Our name, chosen 23 years ago, - a bit idiosyncratic - has been good to us, and we had already decided to keep the name.


Made by Powell Brothers and Whitaker Wrexham probably made in the early 1900's

Impossible to lift by hand; But after restoration it will have place of honour!