1875 - Agricultural decline

Across Britain, summers were poor from 1875 to 1879. Harvests suffered. Animal diseases were unusually severe. At the same time the expansion of railways across the United States, the advent of trans-atlantic steamships, and the mechanisation of American agriculture flooded Britain with grain. British grain prices, agricultural employment, and rents all collapsed; the area under cultivation shrank dramatically. Britain became heavily urbanised, and the workshop of the world. The big landowners became poorer, and lost their dominance as local landlord, employer and bigwig.

Wilcot was shaped by these forces. Its population shrank. Dairy farming replaced arable. New jobs were beginning to replace agricultural labour (but slowly). Young men left for jobs elsewhere. Wilcot was ceasing to be a place where nearly everyone who lived there had been born there.

And the Montagus found their rents shrinking. It was the beginning of the process that saw them selling almost all their properties in Wilcot between 1900 and 1919. Eventually people in Wilcot would come more often to own their own houses, rather than renting them from the Montagus.