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A Very English Village - John Bulmer

At Thru the Lens gallery we are currently exhibiting John Bulmer's 'A Very English Village' which is a series of photos of Pembridge, he was commissioned to take by the Sunday Times Colour Supplement in 1966.

I was delighted to be involved in the creation of the accompanying book that goes with this exhibition - available very soon!

Introduction by John Bulmer

In early 1966 the Sunday Times Colour Supplement asked me to do a picture story on the quintessential English Village. The writer was an old friend of mine from Cambridge, Martin Page, and the Sunday Times put a researcher on to the job of finding the right typical English Village. It had to have all the things that a village should; a butcher, baker an undertaker etc. and not be full of retired people. They searched throughout Britain, and the village they came up with was Pembridge in Herefordshire.

I was brought up only ten miles from Pembridge, and had just bought my first house, again only a few miles from Pembridge.

The Sunday Times had started their ‘Colour Supplement’ in 1962. I’d just started my career as a photojournalist in London, and worked as a freelancer for them since the first issue. I shared the very first cover with David Bailey. His photographs were of Jean Shrimpton’s armpit, mine of a footballer who’s name I don’t recall, but it was not a promising start.

The Magazine took a while to find its feet, but within a couple of years had probably become the foremost outlet for photojournalism anywhere. By early 1966 I’d been several times around the world for them and had shot stories in six of the seven continents. I’d worked very little in Britain, so, a story quite so close to home was unusual. I worked in the same way here as everywhere else. I never asked people if I could take their photographs if I could help it. I did not want to destroy the image in front of my camera. Even with Royalty or heads of state I tried to catch them unaware whenever possible.

I’d like to dedicate this book to the people of Pembridge, who were always welcoming to me, and to the writer Martin Page who was a good friend and died before his time.


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