This film is part of Free
Beating the Bounds at St Albans
An ancient parish custom is revived by twentieth century merrymakers in the historic Hertfordshire market-town.
Armed with wands of willow, the people of St Albans take to the fields for the annual ceremonial marking or 'beating' of the parish boundaries. Among the high-spirited chaos, this newsreel item shows a man and a woman being 'bumped' on a boundary-stone, to the delight of onlookers. Moving back to town, local dignitaries are jostled by brass bands and an ecstatic crowd in the grid-locked centre.
One of the longest-running events in the English calendar, 'beating the bounds' traditionally took place in various locations on Rogation Sunday, the fifth Sunday after Easter. The St Albans ceremony (which claims to date back to the 13th century) is one of a few surviving celebrations of its kind. The intertitle tells us that this occasion in 1913 marked a revival of the custom after a 34-year lapse, which helps explain the particularly large crowd. Today the event continues to serve as a focus for community bonding and general merrymaking.
Travelogue 1955 16 mins Silent Location: Vervlamivm (Roman Town)
The high number of intertitles suggest that the credited ‘Sound Engineer’ provided a now lost music accompaniment to the pictures.
Amateur film 1957 19 mins Silent Location: Wheathampstead
Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother opens Wheathampstead School, 1967. A young Queen Elizabeth at St Albans Cathedral, Maundy Thursday, 1957.
Travelogue 1920 9 mins Silent Location: St Albans
Popular with Romans, monks, and the Hertfordshire Albanians of 1920 and today, the historic city of St Albans was made to be put on film.
Amateur film 1969 3 mins Silent Location: St Albans
Amateur filmmaker John Anderson captures the tail end of the sixties, incidentally showing the pop culture and homeware trends of this era, visiting market day in St. Albans.
Amateur film 1954 29 mins Silent Location: St Albans
Amateur captured scenery 'round and about' St. Albans, including the Abbey, public gardens and winter scapes; picturesque scenes that unintentionally invite nostalgia.
Charity appeal 1939 10 mins
Long thought lost, this Powell-directed promotional short for a veteran’s charity was only rediscovered in 2003.
Drama 2023 2 mins
A group of young Black boys run into a building. One of them is about to do the unimaginable.
Romance 2023 2 mins
A queercore romance - a visceral and immersive exploration of the power of the mosh pit and finding love in the most unlikely of places.
Documentary 1941 6 mins
A poignant, stirring letter from a recently deceased pilot to his mother is read by John Gielgud.
Comedy 2023 2 mins
En-route to her hen weekend, bride-to-be Faye kills the vibe with a bombshell confession.
Documentary 2023 2 mins
An insight into Daytimers, the South Asian DJ collective that are breaking new ground in Britain.