From coastal communities to countryside settlements, Britain’s villages are as different as they are delightful. Here are five of the country’s prettiest.
Tucked in the Wray Valley in the Dartmoor National Park, this unassuming village paints a quintessentially British picture. With a postcard-worthy combination of thatched cottages, traditional pub and church whose origins date back to the 13th century, it ticks all the boxes when it comes to village life.
Perhaps the most photographed of Bibury’s chocolate-box scenes is Arlington Row, a string of cottages built in 1380 as a monastic wool store and later converted into weavers’ cottages. Emperor Hirohito is said to have stayed here and fallen in love with them, Henry Ford liked the cottages so much he tried to ship them over to the US, and you might just recognise them if you’ve ever left the country: a blue-hued version of the row has graced the inside cover of British passports since 2010.
Lovely medieval Lavenham is home to more than 300 listed buildings, which makes it one of the best preserved villages in England, if not Europe. In the 15th century, Lavenham and several of its surrounding towns and villages became hugely wealthy at the peak of the wool trade, and this wealth gave rise to the half-timbered houses that still stand proud today. Pitched at crooked angles, these quirky buildings seem to defy gravity, so it comes as little surprise to learn they feature in both instalments of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
What the village of Appletreewick lacks in size, it more than makes up for in charm. Hidden away in Wharfedale, one of the Yorkshire Dales’ longest and most picturesque valleys, it’s essentially a single street, with enchanting views of the Dales towards Simon’s Seat at one end and Thorpe Fell at the other.
The village of Carrbridge – part of the Cairngorms National Park – boasts several claims to fame. For one, it became the first of Scotland’s skiing villages when a professional ski school was set up here in the 1950s. It’s still a popular winter skiing destination today, and the snow-dappled forest scenery might be the most enduring image of this village if it weren’t for one particular landmark: Carrbridge’s packhorse bridge. An ethereal arch of stone that breaches the icy water beneath, it’s now the oldest stone bridge in the Highlands, not to mention the most photographed.
Read the full story on each of these villages in Issue 196 of Discover Britain