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The English Village: History and Traditions [Kindle Edition]

Martin Wainwright
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The village remains a quintessential and much-loved treasure of the English countryside. This rural idyll has inspired generations of great poets, novelists and artists including the likes of Constable, Hardy, Wordsworth, as well as providing the picturesque setting for modern TV series such as "Lark Rise to Candleford and Cranford". "The English Village" celebrates all that is unique and loved about a typical village - the pub, the green, the school, the church, the pond, the local shop and more - as well as exploring how the village has changed over the centuries. Also includes fascinating information on the origins of village names - Siddington, for example, means the farm of the valley (sidd: valley, in: belonging to, ton: farmland). Filled with facts, figures, customs and lore, there is a wealth of fascinating information to be discovered in this charming book.

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Product Description


A perfect introduction to the subject (Yorkshire Evening Post)

Jam-packed with interesting facts ... celebrates all aspects of village life (Family History Monthly)

a quirky and fascinating look at more than 15 centuries of rural dwelling, covering everything from cottage industries to rustic superstitions (Countryside Voice)

About the Author

Martin Wainwright has been the Northern Editor of The Guardian for 16 years and broadcasts regularly on television and radio. Born in Leeds, the son of the Liberal MP Richard Wainwright, he co-wrote The Which? Guide to Yorkshire and the Peak District, and among his other books on northern or countryside topics are a biography of the English fellwalker and author Alfred Wainwright (no relation), True North: In Praise of England's Better Half, and a guide to the Coast to Coast Walk, as well as A Gleaming Landscape: A Hundred Years of The Guardian's Country Diary.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1355 KB
  • Print Length: 193 pages
  • Publisher: Michael O'Mara Books (13 Oct. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005OR0XYW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #233,849 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful and informative read 24 Oct. 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Martin Wainwright's short book on the English village is an easy but very enjoyable and exceptionally informative read. The brief is to explore the validity of what is best summed up in Simon Jenkins assertion that the English imagine that, 'an English village is like a medieval monastery, a place apart, yet blessed with an innate goodness that trickles down to the rest of society'. It is organised into chapters which read like short essays, each taking a specific aspect of village life and development over the centuries. It is not exactly a history; more a series of threads which take us through the development of the village, and how these developments were responses to social and political change.

Part of Wainwright's purpose is to explain why the village is so important in the English character, and why even the most urbanised citizen has some deeply engrained folk-sense that 'the village' is part of what makes up 'Englishness'. Headings like 'The Big House', 'God's Acre', 'Festivals and Frolics', 'Making and Milling' (a little too much alliteration in these chapters' headings gives the contents page a 'tweeness' the book itself belies) give some sense of the areas covered: the link between and roles of the manor house and settlement; the church as a focus of and stimulus to village life; the shared experience of celebration and enjoyment; the breadth of crafts and industries in the spectrum of village life, and so on. There are many wonderful insights.

These topics are addressed with a lightness of touch which masks the research underpinning the book and Wainwright's knowledge and enthusiasm: each chapter is full of arresting insights and interesting facts about the origins of names, customs etc.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting read by a true lover of villages 11 Dec. 2011
By Seaburgh TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This attractive little book is a beauitfully written ode to village life. I read it cover to cover on a rainy December afternoon and it made me yearn for summer days exploring hidden corners of our green and pleasant land.

It's a book to read as a whole rather than a reference book to dip in and out of it since the author refers back to earlier mentions and past chapters. It's divided into chapters on subjects close to village life such as the church, the manor house, farming and of course the pub. It brings us from the pre-Roman era right up to date, with mentions of research into dark matter down village mines and, inevitably, Downton Abbey.

The enchanting text throws up many interesting nuggets of information. For example, the origins of the name for morris dancing, what the surname "Baxter" means and lots more. While lamenting losses the author celebrates the great, and whilst remembering past suffering in villages he points out the warmth and generosity of forgotten people of the past.

Coming from Leeds, the book has a bit of a Yorkshire bias, which is no bad thing at all. Many of the author's examples and anecdotes hail from Yorkshire, but there are many from across England as well as Wales and Scotland. The book is cloth bound and features woodcut-style illustrations throughout, with a timeless charm on its dustjacket.

An attractivly presented little book, more than just a pretty gift.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 6 Mar. 2012
By elsie purdon TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I live in a village so this book should have been right up my street or country lane. I have read and reread parts of the book trying to suck up the dry dusty facts and turn them into something I can recognise and enjoy; a living place that people dwell in. In this book It just doesn't happen. There are plenty of interesting little details and facts about villages, but they don't convey the sense of a living place, past or present. In fact I think this book might be more relevant in the future when all villages are sucked dry as they become places reserved for holiday homes or second homes!

This book informs us on the history, vaguely, of the English Village. How it changed by the Norman Conquest and again by the Enclosures Act. Villages are believed to have begun in the 4th century AD founded by the Anglo-Saxons who settled in Britain. This is when we can see the pattern of church, manor house, mill and homes. Before then it was not known for certain how we lived, though during Roman times it would have been a case of little homes growing around the large and grand main Villa.
I did not agree with the author's assertion that the Romans occupied Britain along the realpolitik lines of "don't cause us any trouble and we will protect you and keep order." I am thinking of Queen Boudica's tribe having to fight the Romans who were attempting and succeeding in taking away her husband's land and wealth upon his death. My point here is that the history is far more complex than this book suggests.
Again when the author is writing about Yew Trees and Churchyards, he states that they are grown in church yards to prevent the village livestock poisoning themselves on the berries and leaves.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Succinct, balanced look at the English village 22 Nov. 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is an interesting, charming little book which when I first picked it up, I must admit I thought first and foremost that it was going to be a pleasant but sketchy travelogue covering all that is twee and homely about the English village.

I was of course quite wrong. This small but perfectly formed book is far from that. Martin Wainwright is the Northern Editor of The Guardian and although maintaining an overall gentile atmosphere of appreciation for the `traditional' English village in all its forms, he does it warts and all and gives well researched historical backgrounds to the various aspects of village life and form. This ensures the book doesn't shy away from the reality of those developments and their after-effects over the centuries, thus avoiding the book becoming too `chocolate box.'

He therefore achieves a very balanced book that may at times veer into the over-sentimental but, considering the subject matter, that's quite excusable considering the idealised place the village has in not just the English, but the British and the English speaking world's psyche. It's minimally, beautifully illustrated with black and white pen and ink sketches as the author tackles individual elements of the English village- the pub, the big house, the cottage, the mill, the church etc.- succinctly but not with any lack of detail and, importantly, relevant, social and political observations.

He finishes it off with a chapter that charts the future of the English village which is thought-provoking and essential, rounding off this book perfectly.

`The English Village- History and Traditions' gives a snappy armchair tour of that most sentimentalised of British social and urban forms whilst maintaining an easy to read, even `cosy' air befitting of the subject, without being mawkish. A fine line to walk and Wainwright pulls it off very well indeed. Give it a read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating book
Anything written by Martin Wainwright is a must read for me. His narrative style is so enjoyable,and the content is most imformative and interest I ng
Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok but not very comprehensive
I got through this and picked up some interesting facts and anecdotes along the way but I have a few bones to pick with it:
1) it is far too focused on the North of England,... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Juliet Bravo
5.0 out of 5 stars What a book!
Rarely have I enjoyed a book as much from cover to cover. To try and fit thousands of years of history into a couple of hundred pages would, in lesser hands, have seemed rushed and... Read more
Published on 17 Sept. 2013 by Ian Aitken
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Lots of facts, but all written in a very boring, pompous sounding way. I lost interest by the 5th page.
Very rarely do I not finish a book
It's a shame
Published on 17 Aug. 2013 by highgate70
3.0 out of 5 stars Short
A lot of information crammed in too few pages. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it as a start for further in depth research on the subject. Read more
Published on 14 May 2013 by lovereading
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable little book
A small guide to the English village and covers the traditions and features of a typical village. The pub, village green, the church, manor house etc. Read more
Published on 18 Oct. 2012 by Minutor
4.0 out of 5 stars Too gentle?
Given that the English village has a thousand years of history, has been the scene of radical change and passionate defence, has influenced art, literature and music, has a... Read more
Published on 17 Jun. 2012 by El Loro
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull and wordy
For such a small book, it packs in a lot of detail. The problem is after the first few pages I just didn't care any more. Read more
Published on 5 Mar. 2012 by Ren
3.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly poorly written treasure trove
The English Village is a treasure trove of information that venerates the English village as a great Anglo-Saxon institution. Read more
Published on 28 Feb. 2012 by Max
5.0 out of 5 stars curious notion that works
This should not work as a book, but does. The notion of a generic 'english village' as a construct is highly dubious, as each location is unique to it's own history and geographic... Read more
Published on 17 Feb. 2012 by Mr. M. L. Cawood-campbell
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