Cat no. 394

Around the Village Green

Running time11:15 Colour Sound 1937 Finchingfield, Essex

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How modernisation is changing life in a small village in Essex.


DocumentaryIndustrial / Sponsored Film

A film illustrating the changes to village life brought about by modern communications and other changes in village life. The general tone of the film is disapproving. It begins with panoramic shots of pastoral scenes around Finchingfield, Essex. During the harvest, a horse-drawn binder is at work. Also shown are a combine, a sprayer and haymaking. A market garden, sugar beet lifting, a woman weighing eggs and a milk cooler. The commentary emphasises how technology is changing farming. The village green. The emphasis in this part of the film is how modern communications are bringing the outside world into the village and also allowing people to leave the village to work and shop.

A bus travels across the green and this is contrasted with horses pulling waggons. A travelling grocery van from an urban store makes delivery in the village, the postman brings in th mail, a van fills up with petrol at the petrol station and a woman makes a call from the telephone box. Modern bungalows are featured to show the changes people are demanding in their lives, little things like bathrooms. The village butchers shop, along with others, is featured. They now have to compete with stores in the town. Children are shown playing around the stocks; a reminder of times past. At times during these scenes, a dilapidated windmill is visible in the background. Children are seen entering the village school.

Government has taken away from parents the right to choose whether they have their children educated. Old men sit on a bench outside the Fox Inn, drinking beer. An elderly man, Jimmy Green, describes his house. He has a radio and a gramophone but no bath. He doesn't seem to mind this, saying that "there is a river where [I] can have a bath when I feel like it". Children play on the green and boys go fishing. People ride horses and an artist paints. At Spains Hall, the local Tudor Manor House, a fete with a large marquee, side shows and a band. The commentary discusses the changes in the role of the squire. At the Church of St. John the Baptist it is time for the harvest festival and people arrive to decorate the church. The final scenes are from the interior of the public house. Men play darts, shove half-penny. They can be heard discussing the day's events. The film ends with evening shots.

Background Information:

Some shots were taken around Great Bardfield and Steeple Bumpstead. The farming scenes are not shot at Finchingfield as there wasn't this level of technology in the area at the time. Any shots with telegraph wires in them are not of Finchingfield. The local Squire, Sir Archibald Ruggles Brise, considered them unsightly and demanded that they were buried. Only the first shot purporting to be Spain's Hall is actually the Hall. This shot was taken from the public highway. Sir Archibald wouldn't allow the film crew to film the Hall. The fete is not shot at Finchingfield as the village fete there is always held on the village green. The shot of the Church by the river isn't Finchingfield and the interior shots are not of Finchingfield Church. The interior shots of the public house could be shot anywhere; they could even have been shot in a studio. The interview with the local man Jimmy Green was probably studio recorded.The Stocks have been moved. They now stand outside a house once owned by Sir John Gielgud. The locals were trying to make a point!

Marion Grierson was John Grierson's sister. She found Benjamin Britten by asking the Royal College of Music for a young composer. They sent her Britten. He worked on several films for the group including `Coalface', a film about the Coal Industry. Britten's music for this film, written in 1936, was entitled Irish Reel. Britten discarded the score after the film and it wasn't played again until 1995. It was played by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Andrew Davies, at the 'Last Night Of The Proms,' September 13th, 1997.

Featured People:

Jimmy Green, Finchingfield resident

Featured Buildings:

Spains Hall; Finchingfield Windmill; The Fox Inn; St. John The Baptist Church, Finchingfield

TIDA (Transport and Industrial Development Association)

Marion Grierson; Evelyn Spice

Frederick Gamage

Benjamin Britten

V.C. Sawyer

John Watt

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