‘An entertaining book, written with Fort’s characteristic conversational style… A real pleasure to read’ – BBC Countryfile
‘A wide-ranging, intelligent and bracingly enjoyable book’ – The Literary Review
‘Meticulously researched and seasoned with wry humour, this is a perceptive and richly rewarding read’ – Mail on Sunday
We have lived in villages a long time.
The village was the first model for communal living. Towns came much later, then cities. Later still came suburbs, neighbourhoods, townships, communes, kibbutzes. But the village has endured. Across England, modernity creeps up to the boundaries of many, breaking the connection the village has with the land. With others, they can be as quiet as the graveyard as their housing is bought up by city ‘weekenders’, or commuters.
The ideal chocolate box image many holidaying to our Sceptred Isle have in their minds eye may be true in some cases, but across the country the heartbeat of the real English village is still beating strongly – if you can find it. To this mission our intrepid historian and travel writer Tom Fort willingly gets on his trusty bicycle and covers the length and breadth of England to discover the essence of village life. His journeys will travel over six thousand years of communal existence for the peoples that eventually became the English. Littered between the historical analysis, are personal memories from Tom of the village life he remembers and enjoys today in rural Oxfordshire.
Tom Fort was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford. In 1978 he joined the BBC in London where he worked in the BBC Radio newsroom for 22 years. He lives in South Oxfordshire with his wife and two of his children and has been travelling up and down the A303 for over five decades.
‘An entertaining book, written with Fort’s characteristic conversational style… A real pleasure to read.’
– BBC Countryfile
‘Charming…Mr Fort doesn’t only focus on the visually delightful in village life, he tells it as it is – without any firm conclusion, possibly, but with cordiality and wit.’
– Country Life
‘A witty, charming and informative book… full of shrewd insights peppered with nostalgia and humour.'
– Countryside magazine
‘The headline news is that village life is still alive and well and it is great fun looking for it.’
– Best of British
‘A chatty and often amusing summary of his enquiries into twenty-odd English villages… Warm and thoughtful.’
– The Oldie
‘A wide-ranging, intelligent and bracingly enjoyable book.’
– The Literary Review
‘Timely, myth-busting march through English rural history... this pedal around the parishes is an entertaining and provocative read on a subject close to every English heart.’
– The Spectator
‘Meticulously researched and seasoned with wry humour, this is a perceptive and richly rewarding read.’
– Mail on Sunday
‘Tom Fort is one of those delightfully curious sorts of fellow who writes delightfully curious sorts of books about delightfully curious sorts of things… He is – as he admits – no expert, but he certainly has lots of good ideas. The Village News may be a light read but someone in Whitehall should really take it seriously.’
‘A thoughtful, clear-sighted history of the English village told through twenty-one case studies, each of which has its particular character…a passionate cry to spare our countryside from the fate of Oliver Goldsmith’s “Deserted Village”.’
– Times Literary Supplement
‘Unashamedly nostalgic but perceptive…simply wonderful.’
– Cotswold Life
‘This book explores the whole notion of the village... Warm and affectionate, but frank and honest too.’
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