Across the country, rural communities are finding their local services under threat, but in the north Essex village of Toppesfield, residents are finding creative ways to keep their local amenities open and village life thriving.
From the volunteer run village shop to the community funded pub and locally founded microbrewery, the villagers of Toppesfield are working hard to keep this rural community fired up with community spirit and much needed local establishments. Helen Mark meets the locals who have generated and supported these projects and the organisations that are on hand to help, to find out what lessons could be shared with other rural villages.
Presented by Helen Mark
Produced by Anne-Marie Bullock
One Tree Hill
One Tree Hill: a famous landmark that connects us emotionally and confounds us archaeologically.
Otherwise known as Crookbarrow Hill or Whittington Tump it's instantly recognisable to anyone driving near junction 7 of the M5, the exit for Worcester. For generations this distinctive hill, with a solitary tree on top, has become a symbol of homecoming, an emotional way-marker. But ask around and nobody seems to know much about it. It's a Scheduled Monument, on private land inaccessible to the public, and it's never been excavated. However there are enough clues to warrant some educated speculation. So, for Open Country, Karen Gregor climbs the Tump with three local experts to pick their brains. She also speaks to Henry Berkeley who owns the Spetchley Estate on which the hill stands, and to locals who have personal stories to tell about it.
Scroll down to the Related Links section to click through to these interviewees' organisations.
Adam Mindykowski - Historic Environment Advisor for Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service.
Wendy Carter and Harry Green - Worcestershire Wildlife Trust
Henry Berkeley - Spetchley Park Gardens and Estate
The music in the programme:
Chris Flegg - A Hill So High
The Stands - I Will Journey Home
Oysterband - One Green Hill
Produced by Karen Gregor
Folklore and Ghost Stories in Northumberland
Jez Lowe is a singer and writer and in this Halloween episode of Open Country he explores the slightly sinister song and story of Northumberland. This is a county filled with history; from Roman walls to Border battles, and that may be one reason why it is also a place of legends, mythical creatures and ghostly stories. In Northumberland National Park Jez learns about the history beyond the iconic Hadrian's Wall. Further into the park he learns about the murderous Duergarr and meets Rachel Unthank to hear about the traditional song that depict maidens turned into serpents and cruel sisters. The mist and moors and castles of the county lend themselves to tales and songs with magic at their heart and at Featherstone Castle Jez uncovers the historical truth behind some of Northumberland's most spooky tales and finds out why we all love a good ghost story.
Rick Stein's Cornwall
Rick Stein’s first business venture in Padstow was a nightclub which he bought in the 1970s but it was soon shut down due to the rowdy behaviour of the drunken fisherman. To avoid bankruptcy he turned the nightclub into a restaurant and that’s where everything changed for him. Some of those burly fishermen who caused the trouble under the influence of too much alcohol became his suppliers and his business took off.
Over forty years on for Rick Cornwall and Padstow "remains pleasantly old fashioned and just that little bit different" and in this edition of Open Country he revisits his favourite places.
To help tell his story Rick talks to local fisherman Rob Thompson who when fishing with his father Tony in the 1970s used to supply the catch of the day.
Artist Kurt Jackson and Rick visit Hawkers Cove and Nicola Hooper tells Rick why they’ve adopted a more traditional, old-fashioned way of farming.
Rick’s friend Dave Brown, who played with bands in the 60s and 70s from Elkie Brooks to the Stones, is still playing but now with a local ukulele band, ‘The St Merryn Ukes’.
Presenter: Rick Stein.
Producer: Perminder Khatkar.
Jarvis Cocker's Edale
On a wet and windy summer's day Jarvis Cocker takes you to the remote village of Edale and Kinder a landscape he has fallen in love with. He first came across the Peak District while he was a pupil in his native Sheffield and came out on a school trip which he says no–one wanted to go on. However, after two days of exploring he says something happened – something clicked in his head and he didn’t want to admit it but he started to enjoy the landscape. Over the last 40 years it’s a region he has regularly visited and explored and is now truly hooked.
To introduce more people to this landscape especially people from the cities, Jarvis along with artist Jeremy Deller and the National Trust who own Kinder Scout has created a trail ‘Be Kinder’. The trail winds its way along a route stretching almost two miles from the tiny railway station in Edale to the foot of the plateau of Kinder Scout to mark the 1932 mass trespass on Kinder Scout. This mass trespass was all about allowing working class people access to the countryside something Jarvis wants to rekindle as he wants everyone to discover the magic and beauty he has found in this landscape.
The presenter is Jarvis Cocker and the producer is Perminder Khatkar.
Contributors: Jeremy Deller, actress Maxine Peake, Gordon Miller and MEP Magid Magid.