What to look for in villages

No two villages are the same. Yet there are themes and features that persists within them. The sites are separated into three section: Places to visit: where people often go for their needs. Features of a village: which are spaces that attract people to the village. And Places people live: Which are the many types of homes.

Part 1: Places to visit

Often the oldest and most prominent building in a village is the church. Central in the village and village life, many are centuries old with ties to medieval and even Norman Britain. The majority can accommodate the people of the village comfortably and tend to reflect the largest extent of the congregation. Peasmarsh church is Norman with a short tower made of flint masonry topped with a spire. The Priory church of St. Peter, Dunstable is from the High Medieval as seen through the crenelations upon the roof and that the building is made from large block masonry. St Mary’s church in Little Wishbourne is smaller, a Victorian design still made from block. All three of these have buttresses to support the walls, to keep them high, thin, and strong enough to accommodate maximum window coverage without breaking under its own weight.

Primary schools are a commonality among villages, and it is common for schools to be connected to the local church. Schools are likely to be built during the mid-20th century with efficiency and longevity in their design. Lyneham Primary School is efficient in its design. With brick walls and a flat roof with drainage ports to prevent water from pooling and damaging the roofing asphalt. It also has large windows to let in natural light. Langton green primary school is similar in that it has large windows to let in natural light however, it is encased in cost-effective plastic cladding for improved insulation.  Some primary schools occupy older buildings. The Priory Primary school in Tadley is comprised of flint masonry cornered by brick. Having Tudor-style chimneys, and arched windows. Any services within this building will be more challenging to access. However, it has been greatly extended over time.  

The village pub is also common. Much like churches they are a fixture of traditional rural life These large buildings follow traditional, vernacular trends in that the architecture is simple and follows the forms and fabric of the surrounding village. Painted white to make themselves distinct and eye catching, their large signs clear any doubt about their nature.

Village halls are where villagers come together whenever they need a large indoor space be it, indoor sport, dancing, childcare, meetings on village matters, fairs, and other events. Like pubs, they tend to be concurrent with the overall style and fabric of the village. Sherington Village Hall is raised off the ground to decrease damp however, there is a ramp leading to the front door to keep it accessible to all. Cambo Village Hall is made from local stone masonry with lintels above its windows which was standard practice for rural buildings from the 1800s. These traditional features increase the ambiance of the village. Many village halls are next to green fields, playgrounds, or gardens managed by the local community.

Post offices are often merged with the local village shop. Typically, there is a section of the shop sectioned off securely to store the incoming mail such as Brandon Post Office. North Scarle Post office is housed within a small building shared with the Heritage Room. Post offices rarely move location which leads to many post offices occupying buildings that are culturally tied to the village centre, Brenchly Post Office is an example of this.

Shops are diverse and can occupy a wide range of buildings and locations within a village. Commonly in the centre, shops such as Crowhursts Newsagents in Horsmonden are central to the village. Accessible to everyone, they supply a variety of means from the morning newspaper to loaves of bread. Barkers of Huby is a community owned shop that sells local produce with everyday essentials, it also has a Post Office. Garboldisham Village Store specialises in off-licence goods like Real Ales and Wines, there is a Post Office within it.

Part 2: Features of a village

Monuments are designed to stick out and be noticeable. Often comprised of long-lasting stone, monuments are made for a person or event and the design of it will be in reflection. Admiral Hood’s memorial is adorned with a crown of ships, the Loudon Monument is in memorial to the Lady Maud Hastings and is notable for its neogothic decorations. Often placed in prominent places or in stark wilderness, like the Lansdown monument which, unlike the Admiral Hood monument, is comprised of smaller stone blocks.

Village greens are also noticeable within a village’s landscape. A plot of land that is left as a quality lawn for many outdoor uses. A popular pastime for large greens is cricket, where there may be a dedicated cricket green within the centre.

Ponds create a quaint environment and increases the wildlife of villages. Sizes range from small such as the pond in Souldern to the large pond in Walkington. The pond border can vary as well. The pond in Worth Matravers is bordered by stones blocks giving a clean separation between water and land. whereas Soulldern pond has only lawn leading to the waterline.

Villages either over or beside a river can be incredibly idyllic. Villages are most likely to span over rivers in their upper course where they are bridgeable such as with Ironbridge, over the River Severn. It is not often that a village span over a river estuary or over a large river yet may occupy one side with a quay for visitors and historic trade. There are many fishing villages along the coast such as Clovelly which face the ocean and have tidal harbours for boats and other vessels to moor.

Woodlands are important for biodiversity and although may not be managed by the village itself, it provides an important setting that villagers and visitors can enjoy. It can be highly managed like the National Arboretum in Westonbirt or more loosely monitored like the woodland east of Waterlane. Woodlands can also be large such as the woodland west of Silverstone with carriageways carved out within them.

 Castles are hardly inconspicuous. They are often the greatest draw of visitors to a village if it has one. As the ages progressed, so as the complexity of their designs. Nunney castle is a shell of its formers self yet its moat allows for greater immersion into the past. The castle at Castle Rising is a typical Keep Castle upon a hill, surrounded by a defensive circle mound.  Conisbrough Castle has an impressive six-towered keep with a sizable courtyard for whatever 12th century life provided. Many castles are in ruins yet their impact on local villages cannot be understated and their histories are often intertwined.