Based on a true story, a family of award-winning cheese makers on a large estate in Cheshire, England enjoys the tail end of Britain's longest period of peace and prosperity, often referred to as the "gracious, spacious days". The Bebbington family is led by Joseph and Mary and consists of ten boys and two girls. As tenants on a 100-acre farm called Rawhead within the great Ballantyne Estate, they produce milk and Cheshire cheese in the heart of England's famed dairy country. The family enters their cheese in local fairs and competes with other farmers and religiously attend their local Methodist church. The family spends Sunday afternoons playing football and drink ginger beer. Robert Bryden, the only son of the estate's owner Gilbert Bryden, marries against his father's wishes to Heidi Moore, daughter of an imminent Scottish family. Bertie and Robert Bryden form a lasting friendship after Bertie comes to his aid on a ride near Ballantyne. Clem joins the Navy. Boy scouts visit the farm. Then World War I begins. Sam, Bert, and Andrew join the service within weeks. Sam and Bertie are deemed unfit for combat duty so they join the Army Service Corps as animal stewards. Andrew travels to Salisbury to join the 13th Rifle Brigade. Lying about his age, Philip joins the Cheshire Regiment. The "gracious, spacious" days are over.