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The Powell & Pressburger Pages

Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.

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Submitted by Steve Crook

A Canterbury Tale Walk
By: Steve Crook

My feet ache - but it's a good ache :)

A great turn out for today's walk around Chilham. Over 50 people turned up, some old friends from previous events, quite a few who had never done one before.

Lovely weather for it, not too hot, not raining.

We started at Chilham railway station (Selling is a bit too far away) and after a few introductions & photos we moved on the Chilham Mill. The water company that now run it didn't want to let us in but we could have a good look at it & compare it to the one in the film (seen during the river battle & where Bob & Peter meet the boys after they've collected the salvage). Also the river where the main river battle took place. There's a new bridge and the ford isn't there any more so a bit of imagination had to be used.

We did a few playlets to set the scene (as we usually do) and the son of the farmer of the fields we were going to was there so we got him to read the part of the boys (he's about the right age). We did various other playlets at all the other locations. Sometimes Paul & I (with help from young Jonathon) and sometimes we persuaded some of the others to do them.

From there up to Juliberrie's Grave (Pow-wow hill) the old long barrow for another playlet and to talk about the scenes shot there. It was getting a bit hard going for the two couples who brought toddlers in push-chairs, through the woods & over the fields. I offered to help a few times but they managed OK.

Then a bit further up the hill and a pause for a bite to eat and more chatting with everyone and answering all of their questions. Paul rattled the collecting box for the charity Kent Kids Miles of Smiles so we made our donations.

Thence to Old Wye Lane where Alison was in the cart when she was ambushed by the bren carriers and finally to our main target, the field where Alison & Colpeper had their roll in the long grass. The grass wasn't very long but we could still survey the "noble prospect" - not actually the one Bob & Peter look at as that shot & the one of the river Stour winding its way to Canterbury were both shot from other (different) locations. But as it was exactly 60 years since they filmed up there it was most appropriate that we should end the first part of the walk there.

Yes, that was just the first part.

On the way back to Chilham we stopped again by the mill while we got everyone to sign cards which Paul will send to John Sweet & Sheila Sim and to read out a nice letter from Thelma. Maybe some of them will join us next year (60th anniversary of the film's release).

Back to Chilham village and another refreshment break (in the pub). Refreshed, we went to have a look at the square itself where Polly Finn drives her bus and is questioned by Alison. Then down School Hill to see where Bob & Peter play catch and to Taylors Hill to look back up & see how it was used as the basis for "Charing Street" in the film where the glue man runs as Bob, Peter & Alison chase him. That was actually rebuilt in the studio with false perspective to make it look steeper and longer than it actually was - helped by the person running away at the top of the "Hill" being a small boy wearing a scaled down greatcoat.

Then finally down Church Hill which is part of the old Pilgrim's Way and a reading of Colpeper's speech "There is more than one way to get close to your ancestors ... they climbed Chillingbourne Hill just as you did. They sweated and paused for breath just as you did today ..." - most appropriate :)

Finally we went back into the square to say our farewells. Lots of people said they'd enjoyed it and learnt a lot which makes it all worthwhile.

A few people said they'd send me some of the photos they took and maybe write a few thoughts about the day so I'll gather all of those and make a longer report.

A Great Day. Now to rest my aching legs & feet.


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