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Scenes and Characters in the Village of Erchfont

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Scenes and Characters in the Village of Erchfont

The Lord of Urchfont Manor films the young, the old, and the very, very old of this close-knit Wiltshire village.

Amateur film 1936 16 mins

Overview

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When wealthy lawyer Hamilton Rivers-Pollock purchased Urchfont Manor in 1928, he clearly also acquired an interest in the residents of the local village (which has many different ways to spell its name). He films with a documentary purpose, whether it's a 102-year-old woman wielding a shovel, or the baker or blacksmith pursuing their trades. He captures portrait shots of all the local personalities, treating everyone as a star, and they chat back to him (sadly unrecorded) in a very relaxed fashion.

The film is a priceless snapshot of a timeless, self-sustaining community, from an era when the village in which you were born marked a boundary that was crossed only on market days - here to nearby Devizes. Hamilton Rivers-Pollock, who was also a keen photographer, made two films on the community and its traditional farming methods, which he clearly had a passionate interest in and respect for. Tragically, in 1940, severe depression led him to a dark end, as reported in the local Devizes Gazette: "Mrs RP was found with a bullet wound to the head and the conclusion was that suicide was not possible. Her husband, who had been in a distressed state, was found next to her and had shot himself through the mouth".