Cat no. 605

Lawford Hall

Running time27:58 Colour Sound 1983 Lawford, Essex

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Farming and estate management at Lawford Hall, Manningtree


Portrait of a Place

Exterior shots of the hall and then shots inside the kitchen showing the family eating a meal. Throughout the film its story is told in voice-over by members of the family. Francis Nichols, the owner of the estate, explains how he inherited the house in 1972. It was sub-divided and part let. There is a brief shot showing the tenants, Gary and Angel Hughes in their house. He explains the problems encountered in re-roofing the house and other maintenance problems. There are interior shots of the house showing the bedrooms of Dora and Bertie Nichols. Dora explains that she likes living in the country because she is near animals; Dora has a pet goat who is pregnant. Bertie Nichols is filmed in the lounge watching television. He talks about the noises the old house makes, mentioning, creaky boards. There is a 19th century still of the Lawford Hall Estate, bought by his grandfather in 1868. There is a still of Mr. Nichols Snr. on the wall of the study. The film shows the farm buildings that were erected in 1871. In the room she describes as her boudoir, Maureen Nichols (aka journalist Maureen Cleave) discusses her work as a journalist and types in her study. There are some static shots of some of her recent articles.The film switches its attention to the farm, showing a tractor with rollers on a field. There are shots of the countryside, some taken from a moving car, as Francis Nichols explains how he inherited the house at 21 and set about expanding the farm. He let Woodhouse Farm at Stratford St. Mary. Kevin Hood is filmed in a tractor. At Manningtree Station a train arrives and Sadie Nichols alights, home for the weekend from school. She also talks about why she likes living in the country and she plays in the grounds with her brother and two dogs. In the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Lawford, the Rector Peter Ball introduces an arrangement of the Benedicite by Neil Saunders. This was commissioned by Joanna Nichols in memory of Lady Nichols. We hear an excerpt from this and see the outside of the Church and a shot of the memorial stones to some of the Nichols family. There are shots of a drinks party in the dining room, of the harvest, during which Francis Nichols discusses replacing the combine, and then of the harvest supper in the dining room. The guests enjoy a film show from the East Anglian Film Archive, showing Farm Factory. (Leiston, Suffolk, 1936, Farm Factory.) There are also scenes from an estate shoot. The estate workers introduce themselves to the camera. Sid Hood is the farm foreman. Harry Turn describes Francis Nichols as a marvellous boss. Kevin Hood, Wyn Mander and 'Eddie' also speak to the camera. Dora Nichols grooms and saddles her horse and goes riding. Francis Nichols introduces the viewer to his flock of Jacob Sheep, inherited from a friend who had to return to South Africa.Lawford Hall. Maureen Nichols talks about the problems of living in a large, old house, especially concerning heating. When they first moved in, they had to put on their coats to leave the kitchen. Sadie lights a gas fire in her room. The Labrador puppy is fed and then there is a sequence in winter showing a snowy lane and children snowballing and tobogganing. In the farm yard they help to look after the animals in their winter pens. Over scenes of the family watching television, Francis Nichols explains that he is not an expert farmer; some jobs he actually does rather badly. He talks of his satisfaction in seeing the estate well farmed and of improvements he wants to make in the future. The final sequence is a mix of shots showing carol singing at Christmas and a summer fete in the grounds of Lawford Hall.



Featured People:

Francis Nichols; Maureen Nichols; Sadie Nichols; Dora Nichols; Bertie Nichols; Sid Hood; Kevin Hood; Harry Turn; Wyn Mander; Eddie; Peter Ball, rector of St. Mary's, Lawford; Dr. Neil Saunders, composer (s)

Featured Organisations:

The East Anglian Film Archive

Featured Buildings:

Lawford Hall; The Church of St. Mary The Virgin, Lawford

David Cleveland

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