England’s rich culture, history and heritage are evidence in the structure of its communities. Although there are major urban metropolises, there are also hundreds of quaint villages that dot the landscape. A village is a community of people, usually in a rural area, that is smaller than a town. Some of these villages date back centuries, while others are slightly newer. However, they all exude a charm and beauty of their own.
There are numerous villages that claim to be the largest in England. It is difficult to settle the matter as there really is no formal requirement for how big a village can be before it is deemed to be a town. However, the following are some of the country’s largest:
• Kidlington in Oxfordshire – with a population of about 15 000 people, Kidlington could be considered to be a town. However, it has never been such in the past and continues to be run by a parish council, as opposed to a town council.
• Cottingham in East Riding of Yorkshire – dating back over 1000 years, this village is home to nearly 20 000 people.
• Lancing in West Sussex – Lancing only has an area of about 9 square kilometres and is also home to approximately 20 000 people.
The Typical English countryside village of Corfe, Dorset, England
The following selection of villages represents those considered to be the most beautiful in all of England:
• Avebury (Wiltshire) – home to quaint thatched cottages and impressive henge stonework. These henge structures are thousands of years old and lend the entire region an air of exciting wonder and mystery.
• Bourton-on-the-Water (Gloucestershire) – with its charming footbridges, inviting Cotswold Hills and sandstone homes, Bourton-on-the-Water is an irresistible retreat for visitors.
• Clovelly (Devon) – when the sun is shining, this village feels like it could be hidden away on the Mediterranean coast. It is an English Heritage Site and is filled with cobbled roads that are traversed by the traditional transport - donkeys and wooden sleds.
• Castle Combe (Wiltshire) – this is a centrally situated, accessible village that is granted added charm by its stone houses.
• Dorchester (Oxfordshire) – Dorchester is a quiet village on the Thames River, and is best known for its unusually large abbey (by comparison to other villages of its size).
• Dunster (Somerset) – home to the oldest tree in England, Dunster enjoys its unique positioning on the border of the Exmoor National Park. It was once famous for its wool production, and it has remained relatively unchanged since those years.
• Eton (Berkshire) – because of its close proximity to Windsor and Windsor Castle, as well as its own renowned Eton College, this village is a hub of tourist activity. Structures from the medieval times remain, giving this bustling village an air of intrigue.
• Hawkshead (Cumbria) – the narrow streets are almost as inviting in their age-old appeal as this village’s positioning within the beautiful Lake District.
• Lacock (Wiltshire) – the picturesque quality of this village has earned it global recognition, particularly amongst filmmakers. It is protected by the National Trust to ensure that this beauty is not neglected in any way.
• Megavissey (Cornwall) – the harbour acts as the hub of this village’s hustle and bustle, and all the houses are clustered around it. Megavissey is also noted for its friendly locals.