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Urchfont Scenes & Characters in 1936 & 1986


The BFI National Film Archive have just made available a 16 minute silent film of life in Erchfont (Urchfont) in 1936 along with the following text on the film maker:

"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"."

This film provides a fascinating insight into scenes and characters in the Village at that time, some of the buildings are certainly still very recognisable today. You may be able to identify some of the characters shown in the film, if so please let the Clerk to the Council know as such information adds to Village history data.

The film can be accessed using the following link:


Following on from the film highlighted in the article above, we have now been made aware of another film made by Hamilton Rivers-Pollack  in 1986 to update the characters and life in the Village. The film combines the 1936 and 1986 films and features some individuals who still live in the Village today and their views on the changes over the 50 years. The film lasts for just over one hour and can be accessed by using thefollowing link:  





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