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ACT Location Walk 2006 - Chilham
By: Steve Crook

"Pilgrims" gathering at Chilham station
"This is Chillingbourne, Canterbury next stop"

A good time was had by all.
At least I didn't hear any complaints and a lot of people said "Thank you" at the end.

We were very fortune with the weather. On the Saturday it was raining most of the day. The rain came back on Sunday night / Monday morning. But while we were out and about on Sunday it was a lovely day. Sunshine, but not too much. It was quite warm, but not oppressively so.

Various people took a head count at various times. But the seething mass just wouldn't stand still long enough and there were some late arrivals. But most of the counts reckoned it was between 70 & 80 people there.

Meeting up at Chilham Station, we went to the river & the old mill, the scene of the boys river battle. The water company that now owns the mill had said that we couldn't do a tour inside it. Much too dangerous, somebody might get a splinter from one of the wooden beams. But Paul asked nicely of the lady who acts as the key-holder. At first she said that we could look inside. But a bit more sweet-talking later (Paul's very good) she said it was OK to go inside - but only the ground floor. But that was a lot more than we expected so we were very pleased with that. Don't tell the water company.

This is the mill that is seen in the background during the river battle and from pow-wow hill. Not the mill that Alison & Bob ride past in the cart. We went to that other mill last year.

Paul Tritton, Len Smith (Gen. Leslie) & Steve Crook,
reading the scene at "pow-wow hill"
Photo © Richard Fraser

Len Smith (General Leslie) was there with his wife and he and some of the other locals told everyone how that area looked in '43 and how they were able to film the river battle.

Then we walked up to pow-wow hill, actually an Iron Age grave. Because the trees and bushes have grown up around there since 1943 you can't actually see the mill when everything's in full leaf/flower. You can still see it between the bare twigs in winter. It was good to have Len Smith reading his own lines when Leslie & Terry are telling Bob about the local "drugstore"

After the pow-wow, Bob hears the church bells and asks which is the quickest way to the church. We then see him in the next scene walking into church with the Hortons. That's really Fordwich church which is about 10 miles away and is the other side of Canterbury. Don't believe everything you see on film.

A bit beyond pow-wow hill is Old Wye Lane where Alison's horse and cart are intercepted by the bren carriers. Some people went to the other side of the field to take in the long shot that was made from there. Others of us had done that before so we stayed at the bottom of the field.

Back into Chilham itself, via a pause for a pint at the pub.
We showed everyone where Polly Finn's bus arrives in Chilham Square. Just as Polly is adjusting the board at the front of the bus, a pretty lass in a strange hat comes up to ask her some questions. Two ladies read out that exchange.

As we were then standing on the line of the old Pilgrim's Way as it passes through Chilham, Hylton got volunteered to read Colpeper's "get close to your ancestors" speech. Wonderful stuff.

Down Taylors Hill to look back up it and compare it to Charing Street in the film, where our three heroes chase the glue-man soon after they arrive in Chillingbourne. Of course that scene was really all done in the studio and is full of trickery, but it's based on Taylors Hill, Chilham.

And then down School Hill to see where Bob & Peter played "catch", ehich we emulated (thanks Michael) after giving the boys their reward.

A very nice day. Lots of interesting people. Some well known faces, a lot of new ones as well. Some had seen the DVD (& the documentary on our walk last year), some had heard Paul's interview on Radio 4, some had seen it mentioned on the web site, some being attracted there by the new edition of Paul's book.

I just wish I was better at remembering names. I said to some people, "It's easier for you, you just have to remember my & Paul's names and the names of anyone you get chatting to. Paul & I are expected to find out and remember who 70 or so people are in a very short space of time." I wasn't complaining, just offering that as an excuse for when I forget people's names :)

I chatted to a lot of the people there, if there was anyone there who I didn't talk to who reads this & wants to get in touch for any reason, please drop me a line at

As Paul says, there's no reason why we shouldn't continue to do these walks every year on the last Sunday in August, and we'll carry on doing them until we get one right!


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