Published May 2008
The idea of the village – unspoilt, unpretentious, unchanging and growing almost organically out of the landscape – is one of the most potent in the English imagination. Writers, artists and ordinary people have waxed lyrical on the theme for centuries, while today millions have left the cities in search of the rural idyll.
Yet the village is plainly dying. The unchanging rhythms of village life, as experienced with little variations by generations, have vanished. But not without trace … they exist in living memory. In the voices of men and women for whom the old ways were life-shaping realities.
Richard Askwith, an award-winning writer and journalist, describes a journey in search of the quintessential English village, through dales and suburbs, down ancient lanes and estates. He captures the voices of poachers and gamekeepers, farmers and hunters, nurses and postmen, teachers and craftsmen, and demonstrates that, while the landscape more changed than we thought, the past is never so simple as we imagine.