When I first met Margaret in August 1959, she was working on three different things. When she stopped being able to work any more in the autumn of 2012, she was working on three different things. What I should like to do is to say how she got from one to the other.
In the beginning she was working on Cambridgeshire house types, on the size of selions in open fields and on a village history, of Longstanton in Cambridgeshire. When she had to give up, she was working on the hearth tax of the whole of England, on the clothing of the ‘common sort’ in seventeenth- century England, and on a village history of Kami Shiojiri in Nagano Province of Japan.
Her work on house types turned into a lecture for the then young Vernacular Architecture Group, but it was never published, because Peter Eden, with much more technical expertise, published on the subject instead, although without figures in the houses, which were Margaret's forte.
She very soon got me involved in her work on selions in the open fields and had me going out with a surveyor's chain to hold the other end for her. This work turned into the only publication under her maiden name, Margaret Clark. Soon after we were married in 1962, a kind friend wrote to say how very sad it was that Margaret would never be able to publish on the subject, because somebody called ‘Clark’ had done so!
Her work on Longstanton, which she put in for the national prize for local history, the John Nicholls Prize, came second to a book on the lost rivers of London. It did, however, change her life. The chairman of the judges, Professor Herbert Finberg, asked her to call on him. He was much taken by her quality and proposed her for a postgraduate studentship in his Department of English Local History at the University of Leicester. So she went to Leicester and was interviewed by a committee chaired by the Vice-Chancellor, who also thoroughly approved of her, until they realised that she had no first degree.