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Modern times

Every village used to have a church and a pub. Now it has an all-night BP garage and a massage parlour

By Jeremy Clarke   February 1999

Until fairly recently, every Devon village had a large, square police house, inhabited by a large, square policeman. There was also a vicarage containing a vicar, a primary school, a village store, a post office, a chapel and at least one pub. Our village also had its own blacksmith’s shop and Women’s Institute-both thriving until the second world war, when they were blown up by the US army, which had occupied the village prior to D-Day. (The Americans also trained heavy artillery on our parish church-an ugly, mid-Victorian edifice-but regrettably the damage was only superficial.)

Most of these old village…

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