Chapter 1: The Village

The history of our village stretches right back to the Doomsday Book, when it was a small but prosperous manor.

The church has its origins in a 13th Century chapel and the pub is second oldest in Hampshire (they claim!).

Over the years it’s grown, more housing and an economy that has changed with the evolution of the nation’s economy. It’s still home to several farming families, but one sign of the times is the number of working residents who commute to nearby towns and cities. A few even travel to London.

Some services have been lost: there’s no longer a local police station and there are fewer shops than fifty years ago. But it remains a reasonably prosperous place, albeit that some villagers struggle in low paid jobs – a struggle that’s made harder because they sometimes feel isolated.

This story is about the village’s future: the challenges it faces and how it tries to overcome them. We wanted to explore what it will be like in 2050. We did that by inviting people with an understanding of rural life, to discuss what might change in the next thirty or so years, and how the village might cope with the pressures all our rural communities face today.

First let’s meet our village:

  • in 2019 it is home to 1,011 people, living in 443 houses. Most are privately owned, but there are 25 houses managed by a housing association in the South West corner of the village.
  • the village boasts a pub and shop. The pub is doing well, but the owner, a major national brewery, wants to put the rent up by 15%.
  • there is a doctor’s surgery in the village, which is open on Monday and Tuesday. The GP runs two other small surgeries in neighbouring villages on the other days. Villagers are worried as the GP has said she wants to retire in 2021.
  • the Parish Hall is generally busy, with yoga classes and a small pre-school club, run by local volunteers. It is home to several village clubs and societies, and, of course, the Parish Council. However, the adjacent playing field is less well used, and badly in need to some improvements.
  • there is a small primary school, but the numbers of 5-7 year olds in the village is falling, and the local education authority are consulting on whether it should close.
  • there is a bus service to a nearby town and onwards to the county town, but its subsidy has just reduced, so it only runs three times a week.

We also thought about who might live in the village, and what their aspirations for the future might be. Meet our characters.

Chapter 2: The pressures and the challenges of rural life