Cat no. 494

Village in the Wheatfields

Running time18:25 Black & White Sound 1949 Rickinghall, Suffolk

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A drama-documentary illustrating the farming year in Rickinghall Superior and Rickinghall Inferior.



The farming year in the Suffolk villages of Rickinghall Inferior and Rickinghall Superior, combined with some shots of Botesdale and are called Rickingdale in the film. It is an early docu-drama and the villagers take part and some act in the film. There is a commentary offered in an approximation of a local voice.

The film opens with a map of the British Isles. It zooms in on East Anglia and marks Norfolk, Suffolk, the river Waveney and the village of Rickinghall. There are overhead and aerial shots of the countryside and of the farmer discussing farm matters with his foreman. The farmhouse is in the background. The farmer drives into the village in his Wolsey car, pursued by his dog. This introduces the viewer to Rickingdale. There are shots of the village as the farmer drives through. He stops at Parry's Garage where Mr. Goodbody fills a tractor up with petrol. Mrs. Marshall collects water from the village pump. A man is at work on the roof of the village inn.

Back on the farm a caterpillar tractor ploughs a field, before it is harrowed using horse drawn equipment. The filled is drilled using an International W4 tractor and a 16 row National drill. Another farm worker rides on the back of this to check that it remains in working order. In the evening, the children leave school. There follows a sequence showing evening shots of the village. There are exterior views of the fish and chip shop and interior views of the pub where men drink and play darts. There are interior views of a cottage scene and of the foreman's family eating their evening meal.

The autumn series concludes with evening shots around the countryside. There are wintry scenes from around the farm. The farm workers complete winter jobs, such as hedging and ditching and fattening the turkeys. The farmer uses the quieter winter months to catch up on his paperwork. A lorry takes grain to Greens Castle Roller Flour Mill at Beccles, by way of contrast, passing Bryants Mill at Pakenham, near Bury St. Edmunds. One of the village girls, Ann Potter, goes shopping in Diss. There are scenes showing the production process in the mill and scenes showing the town centre in Diss. Returning to Rickinghall, the vicar presides over a carol service.

The sequence about spring begins with a wedding in St. Mary's Church, Rickinghall Inferior. There are shots of the bell ringers and interior church scenes, showing Jimmy Self, as a nervous bridegroom. The bridesmaids wait outside and the bride, played by Miss Marshall, arrives with her father. A girl rides a horse and a man sows a filed using single hand broadcast sowing. A tractor drawn sprayer sprays the field with insecticide and then a horse drawn Cambridge roller is passed over it. Back in the Church, there are shots of the organist and then the couple emerge from the Church. Village In the Wheatfields. This sequence begins with shots of fields of wheat and girls picking wild flowers. In the village an ice cream seller sells to the local children. Older people play bowls and drink beer. Most of these have featured in the film before. A tractor drawn binder cuts the wheat and small boys build stookes. These are collected by men with pitchforks and piled onto a horse-drawn cart. It is taken to the farmyard and to the threshing machine. A Massey Harris self propelled tanker combine features to show new methods of farming. A wire baler bales up the straw. There is a shot of farm workers picnicking in the field and a brief shot of C.H. Ray's saddler's shop at Botesdale. The final shot is of the bale leaving the field.

Background Information:

This information about the names and locations featured was given to the Archive by Mr. F.W. Barker and Mr. Eric Barker in 1990:

Most of these scenes were filmed on the farm of F.W. Barker. The turkeys were on a neighbouring farm, Hinderclay Hall. The threshing scene was shot somewhere else, possibly Hinderclay Hall. The combine was brought in for the purposes of filming. In 1990 Mr. Eric Barker and Mr. F.W. Barker (sons of the farmer whose land was filmed here) viewed the film together. They gave the Archive the following information.The farmer filmed was Mr. F.W. Barker; his foreman was Herbert Knights. The boy used was not Knights' son. Mr. Perry is serving petrol at his own garage. Mrs. Marshall, the village shop keeper, is at the water pump. The newsagents shown later was not the Marshalls' shop; they kept another in the village. Mr. Bullock is thatching the roof of the village inn. Later, he and Perry are filmed playing darts in the pub. The farm worker sowing the wheat is George Salter.The worker riding on the back of the drill is Lemon White.The young man at the chip shop is Jimmy Self. He was a farm worker and played the groom in the wedding, which was a re-enactment for the film of a wedding that had happened the week before. The bride, Miss Marshall, is genuine; the film company decided to use another man to play the bridegroom.The Farmer's House was lit up for the film. It hadn't been occupied for several years. The Barkers were living at Snape Hall Farm, but the film makers thought that this house gave the impression of a farm house that they were seeking. Back on the farm, Bobbie Shemmings in hedging and Dick Self holds the rack. Ronnie Morley drives the lorry. The girl playing Ann Potter was a younger Miss Marshall. The Rector was the Reverend John Cotton. Behind him in the bowls scene is the village constable, Mr. John Gosland. He served his whole career in Rickinghall was rumoured never to have had a case. The organist at the Church was Miss Warren. John Powling is driving the tractor and Dick Self is feeding the baler. Two of his daughters ride on the back.

Featured People:

F.W. Barker, farmer; Herbert Knights, farm foreman; Mr. Perry, garage owner; Mrs. Marshall; Miss Marshall, bride; Miss Marshall, younger; Mr. Harry Bullock, roofer; Jimmy Self, bridegroom; George Salter, farm worker; Lemon White, farm worker; Bobby Shemmings; farm worker; Dick Self, farm worker; John Powling, farm worker; The Misses Self; Miss Warren, Church organist

Featured Organisations:

Green's Castle Roller Flour Mill, Beccles

Featured Buildings:

Pakenham Windmill; St. Mary's Church, Rickinghall Inferior; Green's Castle Roller Flour Mill, Beccles

Greenpark Films

Central Office of Information

National Council for Visual Aids In Education

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