England has thousands of villages, and nearly all of them have a strong history. It’s heartbreaking when we now see motorways with roaring traffic nearby, or villages strewn with litter. Often run alongside parish councils, villages began with open field agriculture in late Saxon England, and often revolved around the village church and sometimes a manor house. In time came the village green and the village pond.
Most of the major 3000 villages or so have a church, although not all are Catholic as they used to be, when the reformation of Henry VIII led to many being destroyed, with many nuns and monks killed. Villages also tend to have a country pub and thatched roof cottages. A few even have windmills which would bring grain and a watermill. So what’s the prettiest village in England? There is not one, but strong contenders among all the experts are:
- Polperro (Cornwall)
- Robin Hood’s Bay (Yorkshire)
- Mousehole (Cornwall)
- Cartmel (Cumbria)
So what is a hamlet? It’s simply a smaller version of a village, and is a French word for a small settlement. They usually only have a few hundred residents, and often were formed around a single economic activity like farming or mining.