Thursday, November 11, 2010

Rural Britain Then & Now by Roger Hunt

Title: Rural Britain Then & Now: A celebration of the British countryside featuring photographs from the Francis Frith Collection
Author: Roger Hunt
ISBN: 9781844034222
Publisher: Cassell, 2006
Paperback, 208 pages
Genre: Historical Photography
Rating: A
Source: Purchased from

First Line: Britain was born out of the countryside; from hills and fields, streams and mountains, moors and downs, fens and forests: places where nature's architecture and man's industry have, over millennia, combined.

1859 marked the beginning of Francis Frith & Co.-- the world's first specialist photographic publisher. In 1860 Frith embarked on a monumental project: to photograph every town and village in the United Kingdom. Today anyone with an interest in British history and photography is in for a treat when they visit the Francis Frith website... where it's almost impossible not to make a purchase.

When I saw that this book was available, I had to snap up a copy because, to me, the best part of Britain is its countryside-- its fields and villages-- and page by page, photograph by photograph, I was led on a marvelous journey throughout rural England.

The before and after photos are wonderful, but there is a lot to be learned from the text as well. The origin of pubs, popular sports, how the farmers and villagers lived together, worked together, and played together.

This book is such a rich source of material that I know I'll be referring to it again and again. If you have the slightest interest in British history or historical photography, you'll get a lot of enjoyment from Rural Britain Then & Now, too.


  1. What a wonderful cottage! Of course you had to have this book.

  2. I have been really getting into history of late -- this sounds like it's going to fall into my Must Read Now category! I do love before and after photos -- sometimes it's so startling and heartbreaking, you know?

  3. Sounds like a fantastic book and perfect for you. I'll have to keep an eye out for a copy at the library.

  4. Dorte-- Lovely cottage that also serves as a pub. Can't go wrong! :)

    CBC-- Yes, I know exactly what you mean.

    Beth-- I hope they've got a copy!

  5. This must be absolutely fascinating. I actually have a collection of hundreds of Francis Frith postcards from the area we used to live in in the UK. I notice it was published in 2006 so I am surprised I have not come across it before, but we do tend to miss the publication of books like this when you no longer browse UK bookshops. Thanks to your review I will now look out for this.

  6. Lindy-- I first came across Francis Frith in a giftshop in Manchester. It didn't take me long to find their website when I came home!

    Holly-- It is. :)


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