Most of Surrey was still rural in character until the late 19th century. In the lavender fields of Wallington, the downland pastures of Dorking and the hop fields of Farnham, locals depended upon the land to provide their living.
The farming world is documented in a wide range of sources including reference works concerning farm and forestry management published in the 17th and 18th centuries as aids to the gentleman farmer. The labourers daily routine and the cycle of the farming year are reflected in the archives of the countys great estates and smallholdings. The economic reality of rural life is illustrated by estate accounts, farm diaries and sale catalogues. These records date from the 18th to the 20th century and provide a wealth of fascinating detail about crop and stock prices and farm workers wages and social status.