The Countryman magazine to close
By David Wood | 24th October 2023
A magazine that was founded 96 years ago in the Cotswold village of Idbury, near Stow-on-the-Wold, is to fold.
The Countryman magazine was founded in 1927 by John W Robertson-Scott and its current owner Dalesman Publishing, which also owns Country Life magazine, has cited rising paper, print and postage costs as factors in its decision to cease publication.
The company has stated it has taken "the very tough decision" to cease publication 96 years after it was founded and that the November issue of the magazine, due out tomorrow (Wednesday October 25), will be its last.
The magazine has flourished over the decades with the late Queen sending her best wishes on its 90th anniversary in 2017, as did Dame Judi Dench, the chairman of English Heritage and wildlife presenters Chris Packham and Kate Humble.
Mr Robertson-Scott lived in Idbury Manor from 1923 until his death in 1962 at the age of 96. It was from the Manor that Robertson Scott launched his monthly magazine The Countryman.
Mr Robertson-Scott wrote an account of the founding and running of The Countryman, in his book about newspaper editors he had known, 'We' and Me, in which he recalls making a complete dummy of the first issue of the magazine which had the subtitles the Rural Reformer, the Cottager, the Villager, Village Neighbour, Village Clubman, and Parish Councillor, laying claim to all the titles Scott could think of just in case someone else wanted to muscle in on the act.
The first issue in April 1927 had 82 editorial pages and 16 pages of adverts. By April 1934 the magazine had more than tripled in size to 162 editorial pages and no fewer than 184 pages of advertisements.
Mr Robinson-Scott proudly claimed that among his readers were such luminaries as George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, GK Chesterton, Rudyard Kipling, Lord and Lady Baden-Powell, Sir Hugh Walpole, JB Priestley and D. H. Lawrence. Two prime ministers Ramsay MacDonald and Sir Winston Churchill were said to be avid readers of the Countryman.
To please such a varied readership, Mr Robinson-Scott said that the magazine itself had to be both varied and lively.
Thomas Hardy wrote: "The Countryman makes one feel in the country," while Bernard Shaw said that he took in many magazines he never read, "but I always read The Countryman".
Mr Robertson-Scott was succeeded as editor in 1947 by John Cripps, who moved the publication's offices two years later to Burford, Oxfordshire, where it is commemorated with a blue plaque.
The title was bought by IPC magazines in 1998 and then by Dalesman - itself a subsidiary of Country Publications Ltd - in 2002.
Dalesman Publishing stated: "Following the Covid lockdowns, print and paper costs have soared by 70 per cent and postage has leapt by 26 per cent, and there has been a steep decline in advertising revenue. Combined, these factors have made the future of the magazine unviable."
The publisher added that the closure "is something that has not been done lightly, or easily, but with heavy hearts after much analysis and anguish".
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