Cat no. 222

A Celebration of Midsummer

Running time24:39 Sound 1966 East Anglia

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Celebrations of Midsummer in East Anglia and Warwickshire.



The film begins with a burning cartwheel rolling down a hill to light a bonfire at the bottom. The titles and credits are shown over this scene at beginning and end. The opening scenes of the film are pastoral scenes; a village Church, reflected in water, wheat stooked in the fields and cows grazing.

These lead into a sequence showing a group of school children on a nature ramble near Whatfield, near Hadleigh, Suffolk. The commentary is provided by their teacher, Gwen Dunn, and by some of the children who describe their catch of fish.

A modern midsummer ritual featured is the village cricket match. According to the scoreboard this was filmed at Ashorne and Morton Cricket Club. There are shots of the play shown to a quotation from Neville Cardus. There are also shots of the spectators lazing on the grass.

The scene moves out of East Anglia to the Rollright Stones at Shipton-under-Wychwood in Warwickshire and to the Malvern Hills. In these locations, not all scenes in which were shot in midsummer, F.R. Buckley explains about some of the pagan midsummer rituals. These include demonstrating the use of the Sacrificial Stone in the Malvern Hills, with the help of a young maiden. Back in East Anglia there are scenes of horses grazing in the sun before a sequence filmed at the Ship Inn at Blaxhall, Suffolk. This shows step dancing before the Chairman, Alf Wickets Richardson, invites Sam Friend to sing. He offers a rendition of `Jim The Carter's Lad'. The film is intercut with stills of farming scenes from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These illustrate the words of the song.

Modern farming scenes follow. These begin with cutting hay for silage making. There are scenes of sugar beet being hoed by hand, of women picking potatoes and of harvesting peas by night. A lengthy sequence showing sheep shearing, shot near Bury St. Edmunds is narrated by the shearer, Richard Seabrook.

Scenes from the 127th Hadleigh Show include young people's marching bands. There are scenes from the ring of the animal being shown. These include heavy horses, cattle and goats. Horse events include driving ponies and traps as well as a less usual donkey and trap. There are the little girls of the Pony Clubs, one of whom falls from her horse, a dressage event and a show from a local hunt. There are sheep dog trials, rare breeds of chickens and fairground rides. In one sequence two boys chase a runaway Saddleback pig.

The film ends where Hugh Barrett and the Earl of Cranbrook go bat hunting at Great Glenham, near Saxmundham. They are trying to catch a water bat but succeed in catching a common pipit bat. Other scenes to conclude the film include shots of a barn owl.

Featured Buildings:

The Ship Inn, Blaxhall

Trent Film Productions Ltd


Malcolm Freegard

R.P. Bagnall-Oakeley; Derek Johnson; Ian Stone; Peter Doubleday

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