The books we publish

All our historical titles are listed on this site. Poetry will be featured on a separate site in due course.

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A Cocktail of Village Life: A century of change in and around Combe


Dorothy Calcutt

Dorothy Calcutt was born in Combe, near Woodstock, in 1920 and lives
there still. In this account of changing village life, Dorothy draws on
her own experiences and those of her family and friends to create a
vivid picture of rural Oxfordshire that few of us would recognise
today, even though it remains very much alive in the memories of the
older inhabitants.

The physical hardship of work for both women and men, the difficulty of
keeping yourself warm, clothed and shod, the problem of getting to the
nearest town, the absence of medicines, shortages of food and the
prevailing poverty all meant life was tough beyond our imagination. In
the 1880s two-thirds of children were dead before they reached 10 years
old, and many old people died in the workhouse. If a man died young --
Dorothy's grandfather died at the age of 34 -- his widow and children
were dependent on the goodwill of friends, relatives and the parish to
survive. Dorothy's father worked in Canada before the first world war,
sending money home to his mother. Yet there were good times too, and
village life could be idyllic for a child.

Shortly after the war, the first 'incomer' arrived in the village: the
sculptor, Sir Hamo Thornycroft. Cars began to appear and a farmer
bought a tractor. Children travelled away from their village, only to
find that no one could understand their broad accent. Then, in 1939,
everything changed for ever.

Dorothy concludes her memoir with an eloquent plea for the appreciation
of village life, and the unique values it embodies.

The book includes a unique archive of photographs of Combe Cricket Club dating back to 1885.

£8.99 paperback, c. 80pp, with many b/w photographs
1-902279-30-1 Published July 2007