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ACT Location Walk, Fordwich, 31st August 2008
Well after all those weather scares, we only had a few spots of rain, hardly anything at all. It was quite warm, but not hot. You don't want it too hot when you're walking quite a bit.
We all met at the pub by the Town Hall. An average turnout of about 60 people. 15-20 of them were first-timers and one lady even admitted that she'd never seen the film but she'd been "persuaded" to come and she seemed to get on OK even though she didn't know what we were talking about most of the time :)
We had a good look round the Town Hall (in two batches because it's so small). The people that look after it gave us an introductory talk about it and we then amazed them about how precisely it was all recreated in Denham. They've also opened up the ground floor a bit more than they had on previous visits. That's where the town jail was and they've also opened up a store-room at the back where they showed a 10 minute video about the history of the place.
Then into the church. This is the church which we see Bob Johnson come into with Jim & Mrs Horton just after he's met the boys on pow-wow hill. We see a bit of the outside of the church and then a shot from inside as they walk in and a quick shot of the bell being rung.
After that it was up to the top of the high street to point out the lane leading to Pru Honeywood's farm and then down the high street aka the Beverly Hills of Fordwich because that's where most of the boys were living when they were recruited.
Past the old farm (briefly seen) where the hay cart came from that General Leslie is standing on when he first meets Bob. Just next to the farm entrance is (in real life) the Manor House which was the exterior of the Colpeper Institute and is also seen when Bob's talking to Leslie on the hay cart. Trying to explain how magical the room was that Bob stayed in at The Hand of Glory. That he could look out of one window and wave to the butcher in Wingham and then look out of another window and see Leslie in Fordwich - 6 miles away! That's almost as clever as the way that Bob could run down pow-wow hill, just outside Chilham, and arrive at Fordwich church which is nearly 10 miles away and on the other side of Canterbury. The magic of the movies :)
After all that time was getting on, a few people had to leave early to get trains. Or rather the shuttle bus that took them back into Canterbury because no trains were running east of Canterbury. Some of the rest of us stopped off at the other pub in the village, the George and Dragon, for a spot of refreshment. That was also used as part of the exterior of the Hand of Glory, as was part of the Red Lion in Wingham. Micky stayed at the George while they were shooting in the area and that was their main HQ.
It was raining quite hard in SW London all morning. As I drove down the rain seemed to stop as soon as I got into Kent and then held off (mainly) all day. And now that I'm home again, I've only been in for 15 minutes and I hear it raining outside, with a few rumbles of thunder. Crazy weather
Today was a bit chaotic in places. We didn't manage to do any of our playlets, reciting (or getting people to recite) lines from the film at the location where they were said in the film. But it all seemed to go reasonably well.
Pictures by Richard Fraser
NB: Richard Fraser owns the copyright to all the photographs reproduced below. No copying without written permission.
Click on the image to see a larger version.
Paul's introductory remarks at Fordwich Quay
Paul introduces Len Smith (General Leslie) and Win Tamsitt (widow of James, raiding party leader Terry Holmes)
Also present was Jim Pople, 2nd assistant editor on ACT
Steve relaxes in Fordwich Town Hall (16th Century)
An impromptu screening of ACT outside the town hall
Inside St Mary's Church, Fordwich
Jim Pople explains the technicalities of filmmaking in the 1940s
Group shot outside St Mary's Church
More key moments in the film are explained in detail by Paul
Outside Byway House in the High Street
The present day version of the gateway that led to the Colpeper Institute
The group makes its way along the High Street and past The Manor House
Outside Watergate House, the vantage point for the view of Chillingbourne seen in ACT
Paul explains the significance of The Manor House to ACT
On our way along King Street to The George and Dragon
The George and Dragon, one of the inns to masquerade as The Hand of Glory
Paul explains the role played by The George and Dragon and its car park
Other P&P trips