This year's PaPAS A Canterbury Tale film location walk will be held on Sunday, August 28 in Fordwich. Meet on Fordwich Quay at 1.30 pm or join us from 12.30 pm at the Fordwich Arms for refreshments. No need to book. Just turn up. Please give generously to our collection in aid of Kent Kids Miles of Smiles.
There are very few public parking spaces in Fordwich village. Please find one on or off the road leading from Sturry to Fordwich. For details of bus and rail services to Sturry (half a mile from Fordwich) visit www.stagecoachbus.com and www.nationalrail.co.uk. Please check the National Rail website the day before you travel to ensure that there are no timetable alterations due to engineering works etc.
By popular demand we will revisit Fordwich Town Hall, the inspiration for "Chillingbourne Town Hall," where "Alison" and "Bob Johnson" reported their encounter with the "glueman."
The Town Hall will be open from 1.45 - 4 pm (admission £1.50). We will visit the Court Room and watch a DVD of the history of Fordwich in the Undercroft.
We will also see St Mary's parish church (where Chillingbourne's parishioners were filmed arriving for matins), the entrance to the "Colpeper Institute", and other nearby places that represented Chillingbourne village.
Your guides will be Paul Tritton, author of A Canterbury Tale - Memories of a Classic Wartime Movie and Michael Powell's Canterbury Tales and Steve Crook of the Powell & Pressburger Appreciation Society.
ACT Location Walk, Fordwich, 28th August 2011
Last edited by Steve Crook; 25-05-11 at 01:46 AM.
Check out Paul Tritton's book A Canterbury Tale - Memories of a Classic Wartime Movie.
That has details of almost every location in the film, including grid reference and many of them also have "Then & Now" photos. It also has interviews with a lot of the people who helped make the film
Quite a few people have organised their own tours using that book as their guide
As Hurricane Irene heads for the eastern seaboard of the United States I'm keeping an eye on the weather forecasts here. It's been a very wet week here so far. I'm hoping that there will be no more rain left by Sunday. But no matter what the weather is like, I'll still be there & I hope that some of you will join us.
The official forecast for the Canterbury area for the weekend at the moment is:
Windy with sunny spells and heavy, blustery showers on Saturday. Brighter with fewer showers on Sunday and generally fine on Bank holiday Monday with lighter winds and some sunshine.
Sunday: Sunny intervals (some showers possible)
18 °C (32 °F) max
Wind up to 15 mph (WSW)
Is this just walking or is it more like pub crawl?
See reports of previous trips
Although we have been known to stop off for a drink at the start and/or the end of the walk. There are only 2 pubs in the small village of Fordwich where we're going so it wouldn't be much of a crawl
Have fun, everyone who's going!
So, unlike the last IKWIG trip, you did wake up in time ...
Looking forward to all the reports and piccies, Steve. Glad it went well.
Sorry I couldn't make it this year Steve. Hope you had a great day.
It was quite sunny as I drove down to Canterbury, a pleasant drive without too much traffic on the road. That's often the case on the Bank Holiday (public holiday) weekend. People tend to go away on the Friday or Saturday and then come back on the Monday so there's not much traffic on the Sunday.
I got to Fordwich just before 12 and saw that some of the regulars had already started to gather there. We said our hellos and chatted for a bit while we waited for the pub to open at 12. A nice pint of Kent's finest (Shepherd Neame) for a liquid lunch and the weather was looking bright so we sat at the tables in the garden and chatted away as various other people joined us. A few newcomers so we were telling them the sorts of things that they could expect between catching up with what the regulars had been doing since we last met.
But then the rain started. Not too heavy, just enough of it to be a bit of a nuisance. Most people reached for their umbrellas and waterproof coats, but by the time they had them organised - the rain had stopped. It was like that for much of the rest of the day. In that sort of weather I prefer to just wear a light cotton shirt. It dries off quickly enough and my skin is waterproof so a bit of rain doesn't bother me much.
We got started at about 1:30 with a visit to Fordwich Town Hall, just across the road from the pub. Although what you see in the film is very similar to the Town Hall in many ways, not a single frame of the finished film actually contains any shots of or in the Town Hall. Those crafty Archers used it as a basis for what they created back in the studio at Denham.
But it is still an amazing place. Nobody's quite sure exactly when the Town Hall was built, but it's very old. The dendrochronologists have dug into a few beams to try to date them but keep coming up with different dates. Fordwich has, as Thomas Duckett says of Chilingbourne, been a municipal borough since the time of the Domesday Book (1086). Fordwich was the highest navigable point on the River Stour and acted as the port for Canterbury. All the Caen stone that was used to build the original Cathedral was shipped in through Fordwich.
In the film, as they're chasing the glue-man on the Friday evening, we see something sticking out from the right hand side of the Town Hall. That's actually a representation of the crane that was, and can still be seen, on the real Town Hall. That was used to winch goods into and out from the boats that were moored at the quay.
Everyone made their way into the room under the Town Hall where the trustees normally show a DVD giving some of the history of Fordwich. We made a few initial introductions and explained the plans for the day, then we had the DVD player playing the opening of the film from the Carlton DVD. It was a good way to remind people who hadn't seen the film for a while and it set the appropriate mood. We only ran it up to the point where the "pilgrims" go into the Town Hall just to remind them of what it looked like on film at the top of the stairs.
So then it was time to see the real thing, round to the main entrance to the Town Hall - where the door opens straight onto the staircase which takes you up to the courtroom. Everybody paid their £1.50 entrance and there weren't too many of us to risk overloading the place, just under 40 of us - I think the threat of rain kept a lot of people away, we normally start with more than that.
The trustees gave an explanation about how the Town Hall worked, especially as a courtroom. I followed that with a comparison of the real Town Hall and how it was seen in the film, pointing out some of the small differences. Then saying why it was necessary to re-create it in the studio. The main reason being that it is so small (the smallest Town Hall in Britain) they they just couldn't have got all the cameras, lights and sound equipment in there. There is also that big tie beam going across the width of the roof space. That would have severely limited how much they could move the camera.
Time for a couple of playlets. Dragging a few reluctant volunteers from the audience we got them to read out the scene where Bob Johnson meets Thomas Colpeper and then the scene where Alison meets Colpeper. The playlets are a bit of fun and they help to remind people of the scene that was filmed or set at the location where we do them.
After a few questions from the assembled throng and a bit of time for people to explore it we made our way back out to gather again on the quay, between the Town Hall and the pub, the Fordwich Arms. That's where we did the "village idiot" playlet. Although it takes place quite a bit later in the film we reminded people what had happened in the film up until then.
Thence on to Fordwich church. This is the church that Bob goes to on the Sunday with Mr & Mrs Horton. We're fairly sure that the single church bell that was rung was filmed in the church and then as we see Bob and the Hortons coming into the church that was filmed from inside the church. There aren't any shots of the outside of the church in the film.
The church is over 1,000 years old, in parts. It's been added to over the years though but they still have the old box pews inside. It's well worth looking at if you're ever in the area.
Up to the top of the High Street where a road leads off to Elbridge Farm, where Alison is working. That lane also leads to Wickhambreaux where Colpeper's house is to be found.
From the top of the High Street we can take a slow perambulation and admire Fordwich's "Beverley Hills - Home of the stars". Many of the boys involved in the river battle and the three boys named in the credits all lived along there.
At the bottom of the High Street we find the Colpeper Institute. Actually the Manor House but that's where we see the soldiers going to Colpeper's lecture. Again, only the outside of the Manor House was filmed, the interior is back in Denham.
The Manor House is also a significant part of the confusing geography of the film. When Bob talks to Len Smith (General Leslie) we see the Manor House behind him. When Bob looks out of one window of his room at the Hand of Glory he is looking out onto Fordwich High Street. But when he looks out of another window in the same room he is looking out at Wingham, some six miles away - that's a BIG room
From the Manor House a short walk along King Street takes us to the other pub in Fordwich, the George and Dragon. This was used for some of the exterior shots of the Hand of Glory and it's also where Micky Powell and some of the crew stayed. What is now their car park is also the field where the boys are seen under the end credits playing with the new football with the money given to them by Sgt Johnson for helping him unmask the glue-man.
And that was the end of our tour of Fordwich. Not so many people there this year, mainly because of the weather I expect. But those who did brave the rain all seemed to have had a good time.
As is usually the case on these things, I don't have time to take any photos myself. I'm too busy chatting to people, shepherding people and making sure nobody gets run over, giving the talks and running the playlets. But we now have our official photographer, Richard Fraser, who always captures the event very well and I'll put his photos on the site as soon as he sorts them out.
See you all on the last Sunday in August next year.
And here are a few pics from the grand day out
All photos © Richard Fraser, our regular photographer
Performing "playlets". Getting people to read out lines from scenes in the film in the location where they were filmed - or in this case, inside the real Town Hall which was re-created in the studio.
Group shot outside St Mary's Church, Fordwich.
The Manor House, Fordwich. That was The Colpeper Institute in the film
The Manor House in 1943 and Peter Gibbs (Dennis Price) has a final cigarette before joining the others to listen to Colpeper's lecture.
At the bottom of the High Street, Steve throws light on some of the cinematographic sleights of hand and tricks used in the film.
Good to see Jim Pople (4th from right in the photo) on this year's walk. Jim was 2nd assistant editor on A Canterbury Tale.
And that's DaveK over on the right - the man with the beard, and what a beard
A bit of a damp day with intermittent showers throughout the day, but a great time was had by all.
See you next year
Is the walk taking place this year Steve ?
PaPAS web site for details in the next few days
It's been a very wet summer
Bring your own boat
Our annual location walk for devotees of A Canterbury Tale will be held at Chilham (aka 'Chillingbourne') near Canterbury on Sunday, August 26, 2012
Meet at Chilham Railway Station at 1.30 pm
Our first location stop will be Chilham Mill, where the 'battle on the river' scene was filmed and 'Bob Johnson' and 'Peter Gibbs' rewarded 'Leslie' and 'Terry' for finding the evidence that proved that 'Thomas Colpeper JP' was the glueman.
We will then walk up the hill overlooking the mill to 'Julliberrie's Grave', linger awhile, and walk back to the mill and on to Chilham Square, to discover locations featured as 'Chillingbourne' in several key scenes.
Explore Chilham village, where Bob and Peter played Catch! and Alison met the bus conductress, Polly Finn. Visit St Mary's Church and The Pilgrims' Way - and listen again to Thomas Colpeper's lecture about 'The Old Road'. Discover the street that was recreated at Denham Studio for the 'cut to the chase' in which Alison, Bob and Peter pursue the Glueman through blacked-out Chillingbourne.
We will enjoy a picnic somewhere along the way and aim to complete our walk at one of Chilham's pubs between 4 and 5pm.
The walk will be led by Steve Crook of the Powell & Pressburger Appreciation Society. Paul Tritton is feeling his age and isn't sure if he'll be able to join us - so I said I'd have a go at leading this one.
No need to book. Just turn up. Nothing to pay
Getting there: Find Chilham on www.streetmap.co.uk. If travelling by car, park at the station, in the village car park off Taylor's Hill, or wherever on-street parking is allowed. If you will be travelling by rail, normally there is a train to Chilham via Ashford at 11.08 from London, Charing Cross, and at 12:04 from Canterbury West, arriving at Chilham at 12:45 and 12:12 respectively. Please check with www.nationalrail.co.uk before your journey because engineering works sometimes disrupt Sunday services. If you arrive late, follow the waymarked 'Stour Valley Walk' from the station to the mill and join us there or at 'Julliberrie's Grave'.
This is a Powell & Pressburger Appreciation Society event
For more information visit
The things I do for P&P ...
I said that I would be leading this year's ACT location walk (next Sunday) around Chilham. But although I've been there quite often it was usually with other people (like Paul) leading, so I thought I'd better check the details. It's like when you're a passenger in a car, you never pay as much attention to the details of the route as you do when you're driving. If I drive somewhere once I can do it again and again, even many years later. But if I'm a passenger I'll know roughly where we went but might well get lost if I tried to drive it myself
So this afternoon I went down to Chilham to check the details, especially for getting to the locations for the "roll in the grass", "Get your beastly carriers off the Pilgrim's Way" and "pow-wow hill"
See http://www.powell-pressburger.org/Re...Locations.html for map references
It involved a bit of trial and error, finding the best way to get to various places - and it would be on what is the hottest day of the year so far!
The location for the "roll in the grass" scene is quite difficult to get to. There's a track that takes you quite close to it but there's a very thick thicket in the way - and when you do get there, it's just another field. It's now a field of corn stubble, not even grass any more, so it's really not that interesting. I think that any field in that area will do
Most of that scene was actually shot in the studio anyway and the "noble prospect" of the view to Canterbury and the view looking down to the river Stour were actually shot from other places in the same approximate area (within 5 miles or so)
The "beastly carriers" location is easier to get to and there were some local tearaways tearing away around and round the "Rye field" which Peter's carrier crosses before ambushing Alison.
"Pow-wow hill" is easy enough to get to
The car park by the mill was closed and locked, so anyone trying to park close to the mill next Sunday could well be disappointed.
The mill is still there and looking good. The bridge over the river has long since been replaced by a concrete bridge so it's necessary to bring your imagination to visualise the climax to the river battle. Although I did notice a good stock of small apples (like the ones that were used for ammunition) on one side of the shallow part of the river by the bridge.
Then I went into Chilham itself, that never changes much, it's still as pretty as ever. There are a few other locations we can visit there and scenes we can talk about - and re-enact
The long term weather forecast for Sunday 26th is quite warm (17-23°C, 62-73°F) but with a chance of a few light showers - ideal weather for a walk
Oh, and who was trying to track down the last resting site of Judith Furse (Dorothy Bird the post-woman in A Canterbury Tale and Sister Briony in Black Narcissus - and Doctor Crow in Carry on Spying)? She was apparently living in Shottenden when she died so I asked the church-warden in Chilham Church. He checked their current record books but we couldn't find her. They recently sent a lot of their records to Canterbury so we'll have to check there.
Well that was fun. A good crowd turned out, I didn't actually count the heads but would guesstimate at close to 50 (to the nearest 50 )
I introduced my "glamorous assistant", Michael Eyers, thanks for your help Michael.
A lot of regulars but a few newbies as well. Most had actually seen the film - which helps, but as is often the case, there were a few who were encouraged to come by partners or friends even though they'd never seen the film before - but they promised to watch it as soon as they could.
The weather was very kind to us. Warmer than the forecast 21°C, but not too hot, and the forecast light showers didn't materialise. Ideal weather for a Sunday afternoon walk in the Kent countryside.
I made apologies on behalf of Paul Tritton, who is suffering from gout in his foot. Also from Len Smith (General Leslie) who is also suffering from gout, although with him it's in his knee. I suggested that there's too much vintage port being quaffed in East Kent
But we wish them both well and hope they recover soon.
As for the walk itself, we started at Chilham station ("Chillingbourne, this is Chillingbourne. Next stop Canterbury" which would have confused the passengers because it wasn't Chillingbourne and the next stop isn't Canterbury )
I welcomed them all and gave a bit of background about Micky growing up in the Canterbury area and this film showing a lot of the places he knew as a young boy. How it's also very unusual for the time because it has so much location work. Also that so many of the leading actors were amateurs and/or had never acted in a film before.
We led the horde back to the main road and round to Chilham Mill, one of two mills in the film. This one is the boys' HQ and is where they sort out the salvage (waste paper) for Bob to discover the proof that Colpeper is the glueman. The bridge by the mill is also where the boys had their river battle and it was good to see that there were still plenty of small apples on the ground - it was apples like that which were the main form of ammunition in the battle.
Up into the hills to stop by a field where we talked about Alison & Colpeper's "roll in the grass". It wasn't actually the field where they filmed the start of that scene, but a field is a field, especially when they're just full of corn stubble. The close-ups in that scene were all filmed in the studio anyway so we used our imagination and imagined "Alison" & "Colpeper" playing that scene there as a couple of volunteers read out their lines from that scene.
Onwards to Old Wye Lane where Alison was intercepted by the carriers. I described the scene, pointing out the different parts of it. How one of the cameras was at the top of the old Rye field and showed Alison driving the cart along the lane and two of the carriers heading down the field towards her, with another carrier bursting through from the fields on the other side.
Another playlet, reading out the scene between Alison and Peter - "Why don't you keep your beastly carriers off the pilgrim's road?"
Retrace our steps a way and then on to Juliberrie's Grave - aka "pow-wow hill". A 3,000 (approx) year old Iron Age burial mound where Bob, Terry & Leslie had their "pow-wow". From there you would be able to see the mill and the river if it wasn't for the trees that are now in the way. They had a clear sight of the mill in 1943.
Another playlet, reading out the scene where Bob tells the boys about his plane to catch the glueman. I neglected to say that that scene is one of the things I really like about John Sweet's performance. When he's working with the boys he shows that he really understood how to get on with young boys (he was a teacher before the war). In this scene he crouches down to their height. After he & "Peter" have got the information about the glueman, Bob nods to Peter and they stand to attention and salute the boys - just the sort of thing that young boys like.
Back down to the mill, and then in to Chilham - with a pause for refreshment at The Woolpack.
Then into Chilham Square to show people where Polly Finn drives her bus into the square to be met by Alison, short playlet as Alison asks Polly about the glueman.
Down School Hill a short way to show where they filmed that odd scene - after Bob & Peter get the proof about the glueman from the boys, at the mill which we had just visited, they are suddenly on School Hill and Bob throws something (a ball? an apple?) for Peter to catch. We did it with a tennis ball. I wonder how many takes it took them to make the scene for the film? We had to have a few goes at it
Back to the Square and down Taylor's Hill a short way to look back up towards the square and see what was almost certainly the inspiration for "Charing Street" where Alison, Bob & Peter chase the glueman at the start of the film. The buildings with over-hanging upper stories are just the same although what we see on screen was re-created in the studio with a small boy running away to make it look like he was an adult further away from the pilgrims.
Into the churchyard of Chilham Church. The church has no connection with the film but it's a nice church, well worth looking around, and I finished the proceedings by reading out Colpeper's speech from his lecture:
"Well there are more ways than one of getting close to your ancestors. Follow the old road and as you walk, think of them, and the old England. They climbed Chillingbourne Hill, just as you did, they sweated and paused for breath, just as you did today. And when you see the bluebells in the spring and the wild thyme, the broom and the heather, you're only seeing what their eyes saw. Ford the same rivers, the same birds are singing. When you lie flat on your back, and rest, and watch the clouds sailing as I often do, you're so close to those other people, that you can hear the thrumming of the hoofs of their horses, the sound of the wheels on the road, and their laughter, and talk, and the music of the instruments they carried. And when I turn the bend in the road, where they too, saw the towers of Canterbury, I feel I've only to turn my head, to see them on the road behind me."
Most appropriate I thought.
A few more questions answered, a lot of thanks from people who were informed and entertained (I hope). Goodbyes were said, promises to meet up again next year, probably in Canterbury itself, and then the road home.
A great day, I certainly enjoyed it