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Funeral of Canon Morrissey in Burnley (1903)

Unusual and sombre footage of much-loved Lancashire priest's funeral.

Non-Fiction 1903 5 mins Silent


A different side of Mitchell and Kenyon: all sorrowful solemnity and no cheerful bustle. But like several of their films these scenes of mourners proceeding to Requiem Mass at St Mary of the Assumption movingly testify to Catholicism's strong Lancashire presence. And like all their work, it was good business: screening locally within days, topping an otherwise high-spirited bill.

Canon James Morrissey, who served his entire 27-year priestly life at St Mary's, was said to have commanded great local (and cross-denominational) respect in Burnley. The footage itself seems to corroborate this. Seeing as Canon Morrissey died prematurely, the film's commissioner Albert Wilkinson showed a showman's opportunism in hastily hiring Mitchell and Kenyon's services for these funeral scenes (Wilkinson was himself a sometime M&K cameraman). We know he began showing the film in Burnley with other (mostly M&K) films just eight days after the funeral. What we don't know is whether the print he screened included all the footage you see here, originating from the camera negative, or whether it was in some way edited. Some shots are badly over-exposed by the camera operator, giving a washed-out appearance... perhaps they were cut out of the print screened in 1903?