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.