THE COMMON STREAM: TWO THOUSAND YEARS OF THE ENGLISH VILLAGE, by Rowland Parker, copyright 1975; published in 1994 by Academy Chicago Publishers. 252 pages includes an index, glossary and note on currency. Maps and sketches.
The book begins with the creation of a village by a stream during the Roman occupation and continues its examination of the evolution of a village and its people and mores until mid-twentieth century.
When most travel was done by foot, villages in the northern western hemisphere of Europe were usually no more than a half-day’s walk, or about ten to twelve miles apart. For the workers of the land, that was the furthest range of choice for work or spouses. How the land was divided and apportioned, how your rank influenced where you could build your house, who your neighbors were are all examined in this small book.
The focus of this volume by a teacher and self-taught historian is on the medieval through current day times in the life of one place in the shire of Cambridge, East Anglia, England, called Foxton.
If you write about England, western Europe, the West Indies, it is worthwhile knowing how the land was managed. We see the creation of a centralized village system and three-cycle farming, and the spread of knowledge to not fouling one’s drinking waters was established early on.
I return to this book often to ‘feel’ again the rhythm of life for the workers and owners of properties that dominated western culture for centuries.
Review by Priscilla Watkins December 2015