Cat no. 696

An A-Z of East Anglian Villages: Hemingford Grey and Hemingford Abbots

Running time5:21 Black & White Silent 1974 Hemingford Grey, Cambridgeshire

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A visit to the villages of Hemingford Grey and Hemingford Abbots.


DocumentaryPortrait of a PlaceTelevision

The film begins with shots of reflections of the village in the river. The camera zooms out to show the river. A motor boat, carrying passengers including Jean Goodman and the Rector of Hemingford Grey, the Reverend Brown, comes into view. Rev. Brown explains the origin of 'Hemingford.' 'Hemming' was an Anglo-Saxon tide. There are still signs of a gravel ford under the modern river. There are shots of the village from the boat as it progresses along the river. A woman is practising topiary on her hedge. There is a shot of St. James' Church at Hemingford Grey. In this section is a shot of the home of the author and artist Lucy Boston, writer of The Green Hole books for children. This is a Norman Manor House and is believed to be the oldest inhabited house in England. Rev. Brown explains that in the last twenty years the population of the village has increased from 800 to 2000. He also explains that up to c. 1910 there was a lot of commercial traffic on the river. Many of what are now riverside private houses were riverside public houses. As Rev. Brown explains, boatmen do very few miles to the gallon!

There are shots of the village of Hemingford Grey, including the Cock, one of the few remaining public houses.The film also looks at the village of Hemingford Abbots, which was celebrating its millennium. There are shots of the village including one of council houses with thatched roofs. A shot of the thatched school shows the headteacher, Mr. Chambers. There are shots of men fishing. Rev. Brown explains that this is a contentious issue locally; the fishing rights have been bought up by large angling societies, many of them several miles away. There is a shot of the school yard and children playing. There is a shot of the Church of St. Margaret of Antioch at Hemingford Abbots. Jane Keane makes figures of monks, one of whom, Brother Dominic, is rumoured to haunt the Church.

Jean Goodman joins Commander Allington at Hemingford Park. He explains about the Heronry he inherited. There are shots of the heron in flight as the commentary explains that there are 46 herons' nests. The interviewee also explains how to keep herons out of your pond (use a trip wire!) and how they catch fish. Their legs secrete an oil that fish like. They just have to stand there and pick them out of the water.

Background Information:

The original film would have had a commentary recorded later as `studio sound'. This has not been preserved.

Featured People:

Commander Allington; Lucy Boston, writer; The Reverend Brown, Rector of Hemingford Grey; Mr. Chambers, Headteacher, the village school, Hemingford Abbots; Jane Keane, sculptress

Featured Buildings:

The Cock Public House, Hemingford Grey; St. James' Church, Hemingford Grey; The Church of St. Margaret of Antioch, Hemingford Abbots

BBC East

Jean Goodman

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