Plaiting straw was a common occupation for many women and girls. During the 19th century there was a plaiting school in a large upstairs room in the Thornton Arms.  They did several patterns of straw plait with 3, 5 and 7 straws.  They had to split the straws and put them through what looked like a small mangle to flatten them.  On Saturday evenings they took the plait to Potton market where it was sold to a man who came from Luton who then had it made into hats.  They were paid a farthing a yard (£0.00125) for 3 straw plait, a halfpenny for 5 straw plait, and three farthings for 7 straw or fancy patterned plait.   They then used to walk home with a joint of meat for Sunday dinner which they had bought with the money. The rest of the week they ate home-produced pork that had been preserved in brine as every housewife had a pork pot in her kitchen.  (Hilda Brooker’s notes)


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