Set in 1842 Cheshire, Cranford is a town, run chiefly by widows, spinsters, and one Lady Ludlow, who owns most of the land, where everything is to be done a certain way, rules are to be followed and nothing should ever change. So when a doctor in fancy duds shows up, practicing radical battlefield surgery, that’s one thing. When poor Captain Brown announces his intention help build a railway though the town, that’s quite another thing entirely.
The show does dwell on class divisions (which, of course, delights me) in that you have characters like Lady Ludlow, who fears the education of the working classes lest she end up like her Parisian cousins during the Reign of Terror. Meanwhile, a young boy whose family lives in a run down hovel is given the opportunity to learn to read.
Mostly, it’s about the shock that comes with a rupture with the past and while change is always inevitable, there is often a value in holding fast.
And you don’t mess around with proper lace.