When Ted Flaxman and his wife Joan moved to Cottisford 20 years ago they had no idea they would become so wrapped up in the world of Flora Thompson and her trilogy Lark Rise to Candleford.

They made their new home in The Old School, where Flora walked the mile and a half each day from the hamlet of Juniper Hill, which she called Lark Rise in her memoir of life in Edwardian rural Oxfordshire.

The Flaxmans didn't choose the house deliberately — though Joan had, in fact, read the books. Now, almost 20 years later, they are well and truly connected to what might be called the Flora Thompson industry.

A few years ago they wrote a small book called Cottisford Revisited and have just published a much larger volume, The Real Lark Rise Parish. Ted leads organised tours from Cottisford and Juniper Hill. He was also the main promoter of a performance of Keith Dewhurst’s play Lark Rise, put on in Juniper Hill three years ago to mark the 60th anniversary of Flora’s death.

“We had no idea how much we would become involved with Flora over the years,” said Ted.

They decided to write their new book because they believe the television version, being shown on Sunday nights on BBC1, has wandered from the spirit of the trilogy.

“People come here and discover that Cottisford and Juniper Hill are nothing like the spacious studio and outdoor sets of the television series. The television adaptation is not staying close to the originals, so we felt another book was needed,” said Ted, a retired civil engineer.

Their book is as much about the two communities as it is about Flora Thompson.

Juniper Hill is part of the Cottisford parish and only became established when the squire, rector and others built two houses on Cottisford Heath as an act of charity to give poor families a home.

“The community that gradually built up was called Juniper Hill after the juniper bushes growing on the heath — there is only one juniper bush left nowadays,” said Ted.

For their book, the couple used archives held in Oxford, and at Eton College, which owned Cottisford for 400 years. They also discovered the wonders of the Internet.

“For our chapter on the flight of labour from the land, we took as an example the family of William Cripps. He was a farm labourer but later worked at a blast furnace at the ironworks in Kettering. Eventually the family moved to Teesside, where all their children worked in the furnaces. They earned more money than they could have if they had stayed in Cottisford and been employed on the land. All this information we found from census returns that are now available online,” said Ted.

They also went to Dartmouth, where Flora lived when she began writing Lark Rise. Her house has a commemorative plaque and she is buried in Dartmouth cemetery — she had stipulated that the gravestone should also commemorate her son Peter, whose name is also on a war memorial in St Petrox Church, next to the castle at Dartmouth harbour entrance.

“We do not think the full story of the loss of the Jedmoor and Peter’s death has been so fully retold as in our book,” said Ted.

l The Real Lark Rise Parish is available in bookshops at £8, or £10 from The Old School, Cottisford, Brackley, NN13 5SW (cheques payable to The Friends of Cottisford Church). Tours by appointment — see www.florathompson.co.uk.