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The Countryman

The Countryman

Prior to the 1920s, when J W Robertson Scott decided to create a magazine for the countryside, little had changed in rural areas for centuries and there was a great gulf between the haves and have-nots with very little in-between.

Most working-class country folk lived a simple life; many still doffed their caps to the squire; they worked on his estate or in his house or eked out a meagre living as a tenant on one of his farms. Few people had cars and the bulk of visitors were the better off from the cities and larger towns.

Writers, artists and poets had told the story of the countryside for hundreds of years; their hazy, sentimental visions often giving an unbalanced view to outsiders. Scott detested that particular portrayal of the countryside and set about trying to change people’s perceptions. Then World War Two was to have a dramatic effect on all that had gone before. The government grasped its chance to take control of the countryside – and its grip on agriculture and land management has tightened ever since.

Just as importantly, the countryside has since opened up to everyone; what was once almost a private club is now embraced by all. There are myriad concerned and active societies, trusts and agencies looking after every aspect of rural life from wildlife to pesticides, from hedgerows to traffic pollution. Also, town and country have merged through extensive urban development, the country-to-city commuter has evolved and weekend trippers have helped themselves to a piece of the country.

Consequently, over the last 80 years The Countryman has had to change and adapt to reflect not only the state of the countryside but also all those different people with an interest in its nature, beauty and well-being.

Some of Scott's early passions still survive, such as The Countryman not holding allegiances to any particular political party or promoting blood sports. My aim as a 21st-century editor is to bring to a new breed of country lovers, and those who live and work in it, a miscellany of interest and entertainment which is stimulating in parts, relaxing in others but which most of all should leave the reader with a good feeling – as if they have enjoyed a special day out in the country.

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