In 1970 I wandered around an unfamiliar part of West Devon. Down a grassy lane I came across a farmyard in which stood three circular hay stacks, each beautifully thatched. It resembled a picture by the 18th-century painter George Morland. There was nobody about and the yard had a haunted air. In a pub a few miles away, I discovered that the settlement was called Riddlecombe.
Two years later James Ravilious started work for the Beaford Centre, recording the society of this inaccessible and largely unchanged part of Devon. Seventeen years and 75,000 photographs later the project was closed. Ravilious’s pictures now form the major part of the archive, a unique record of the everyday life of the area. Nothing is missed: farming; schools; church and chapel; vicarage teas; hunting; tramps; weather, especially snow; doctors visiting — in fact everything that gave life, and to a degree still does, to this small rural enclave.