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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Fifth annual reunion
By Paul Tritton
The fifth annual reunion of admirers and veterans of 'A Canterbury Tale' took place on Sunday August 26, 2001 at Chilham, during the village's Flower Festival.
As thunderstorms heralded the event and a Powellian gloom descended, lightning struck a local power cable - putting the beer pumps and till in the White Horse pub out of action - so no chance of 'One for the [pilgrims'] road' - and extinguishing the lights in St Mary's Church.
Luckily church bells still rely on manpower and the parish bell ringers were able to emulate the opening of A Canterbury Tale and summons the rather damp and bedraggled Powell enthusiasts to the church for an introductory talk by Paul Tritton, author of A Canterbury Tale - Memories of a Classic Wartime Movie.
In the audience was Myrtle Paton, widow of Michael Powell's PA, Bill Paton.
Myrtle's father was blacksmith Neville Horton and her uncle was wheelwright Ben Horton, who were portrayed as brothers 'Ned' and 'Jim' Horton by George Merritt and Edward Rigby in scenes filmed at the Horton family's wheelwrights and blacksmiths yard in Shottenden, near Chilham, in the summer of 1943.
Jim Pople, who worked at Denham Studios in 1943/4 as second assistant film editor on A Canterbury Tale, gave an account of helping John Seabourne edit the film and recalled how phrases from the script became 'in jokes' among the film makers - "You can't 'urry and elm" and "Plank it out at Christmas."
During a guided walk to locations in Chilham that featured as part of 'Chillingbourne' in the movie, Paul gathered his followers on the Pilgrims Way alongside the churchyard and recited Thomas Colpeper's moving lecture talk, "There are more ways than one of getting close to your ancestors ... follow the Old Road ..."
At various halts on the location trail, Paul called on Pat Tritton, Helen Lawson, Steve Crook and Rodney Meadows to re-enact such scenes as Alison and Polly's conversation at the bus stop; Bob Johnson and Peter Gibbs's conversations with Terry and Leslie; and Colpeper and Alison's 'scene in the long grass' ("Is anybody there?" ... "It's a real voice you heard; you're not dreaming ...)
Chilham Mill, one of the locations visited during Paul Tritton's fifth annual reunion for admirers and veterans of 'A Canterbury Tale.' The 'river battle' scene was filmed here in 1943 and the scene in Leslie and Terry's waste paper store was filmed on the first floor of the main mill building.
Despite heavy rain, several enthusiasts insisted on walking to Chilham Mill to view the ford where the battle between Terry and Leslie's gangs was filmed, and then climb up on to the downs to the prehistoric burial mound called Julieberrie's Grave, where Bob, Terry and Leslie had their pow'wow.
Paul Tritton hopes to organise another reunion next year, perhaps in Canterbury with a visit to the Cathedral - probably on the last Sunday in August (a significant date to all who know the film).
This, though, depends on whether enough Powell and Pressburger enthusiasts express a wish to attend.
If you would like to be put on Paul's mailing list for reunions and other 'A Canterbury Tale' events, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or send an s.a.e. to him at
2 Salts Avenue
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