The Most Beautiful Villages of England

Villages are the very embodiment of Englishness. Honey coloured cottages from peaceful Cornwall communities; splendid thatched roofs sweeping over eaves and windows in the villages of Hampshire; half-timbering, flint and limestone giving Suffolk hamlets their characteristic appearance; and limestone, sandstone and millstone grit giving a darker look to those of Yorkshire, Durham and Northumberland. This volume records the richness and diversity of the English village in photographs and commentary. Grouped by area and sub-divided by county, this is a celebration of the most beautiful villages of England.

Villages of England

Following on from his books, Hidden France and London, photographer Richard Turpin has produced yet another stimulating feast for the eyes. His wide-ranging images of sedate English village life are grouped thematically, through pictureque churches and greens, tranquil waterside and solumn industrial locations. Today’s surviving beauty and variety is shown to be the result of layers of custom and changing circumstance, while local character is evoked by the surrounding countryside and choice of building materials. He reveals both the beauty and the hardship that were inherent aspects of village life and leaves you with the keen sense that even now coastal life can be dangerous! Roger Hunt’s accompanying text, simultaneously provides a sympathetic and very readable account of the evolution of the village as part of English history. He explains the profound effects of the inexorable Black Death and Industrial Revolution as well as revealing fascinating local legends and events. Widecombe-in-the-Moor’s church, for instance, was struck by lightening, which was explained at the time as the Devil tethering his horse to its pinnacle!

Finally, the map, list of villages by county and comprehensive index all contribute to the overall enjoyment of the book and inspire you to go out and find these gems of old England for yourself. –Fiona Murphy

Cottages, churches, village greens, markets, pub signs and the English love of gardening all play their part in this photographic journey which reflects the glory and diversity of village architecture and the rural landscapes that surround it.

A book born out of this very web site and the ENG-VILLAGES mailing list.

The English Village is a celebration of 86 of the finest villages England has to offer. From honey-coloured cottages in coastal Cornwall to the millstone grit of northern villages, this book sets out to investigate the origins of English villages – why, where and how they developed – as well as asking why it is that they so often elicit such a strong emotional response. Over 200 specially-commissioned colour photographs capture the fine details and charm of villages in 40 different regions of England, while the engaging and informative text sheds light on all aspects of village life, including the village green, inn, school, shop, church and customs. The history and character of each village is explored in depth, along with shorter accounts of other villages in the vicinity, including deserted villages. Regional building styles are examined and the stories of some of the people who brought these diverse settlements to life are revealed in this study of what is surely the very embodiment of Englishness.