Nowhere better

THIS WEEK IN 1993: Ballet shoes put on show in museum

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On this day in 1823 William Cobbett, the radical journalist and farmer, visited the Portsmouth area and reflected:

‘It is impossible that there can be, anywhere, a better corn country than this (on the south side of Portsdown Hill). Portsdown Hill is very much in the shape of an oblong tin cover to a dish.

‘I observed that it was a rule that if no wheat were cut under Portsdown Hill on the hill fair-day, July 26, the harvest must be generally backward.

‘I came on to Wimmering and there I saw, at a good distance from me, five men reaping in a field of wheat about 40 acres. Here the first sheaf is cut that is cut in England: that the reader may depend upon.’

The only mention of Portsmouth is that it was a good source of manure – from John Sadden’s The Portsmouth Book of Days.