Long Compton halts 'What Makes a Villager' project over coronavirus concerns

The village of Long Compton has halted its recently approved 'What Makes a Villager' project amid growing concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.

By Matt Elofson
Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 8:48 am
Updated Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 9:00 am

The project was set to formally launch at the annual parish assembly on May 20 in Long Compton Village Hall when the local children would be invited to practise their interview techniques on parish councillors. But the project has been put on hold due to the social distancing practices recommended by the government.

As it became evident, there would be considerable cost implications in recording interviews and editing with relevant illustrative footage the village made application for, and was awarded a grant from the National Heritage Lottery Fund.

'What Makes a Villager' is a collaborative project that arose from the involvement with Acorns Primary School pupils in the 2019 annual parish assembly featuring the sale of the village in 1919 and their study on social change.

Pupils from Acorns Primary School who plan to take part in the 'What Makes a Villager' project in Long Compton

This proved to be very popular, especially when the Long Compton Parish Clerk Elizabeth Gilkes was invited into school to share her memories of village life. She was impressed with the children’s enthusiasm and interest in the changes she had witnessed. Their questions were thought provoking, especially the one about her favourite place in the village.

As parish clerk, she was also aware of the changing mix of village residents and certain elements of division between ‘old and new’ villagers.

This was also evidenced by the fact that 50 per cent of the class she was interviewed by didn’t live in the village, and therefore had a certain disconnect with the village environment.

Discussing how to expand collaboration with Acorns headteacher, Hannah Young, the subject of 'What Makes a Villager' arose and it was agreed to explore the theme, especially as it would be able to link into various aspects of the school’s curriculum and involve the Acorns School Council.

As children are naturally inquisitive and have a way of asking direct questions, it was decided to engage in role reversal, with children of all ages setting questions and interviewing a wide cross section of village residents.

Elizabeth Gilkes said: "Long Compton has always had an active interest in ‘local history’ and a comprehensive paper archive to which this new project of an ‘oral record’ will make an important contribution, but most importantly a more easily accessible and enduring record through publication to social media."