"The production team are to be congratulated

on a very enjoyable film"

THIS review of "Curious South Cheshire" appeared in the 2009/2010 edition of "Cheshire History", the booklet of articles by members of the Cheshire History Society. It is used with permission of the Editor, Tony Foster.


ALL profits from the sale of this DVD go to the Preservation Appeal Fund of St Mary's Church, Nantwich, which, in the light of its current heavily scaffolded state, surely needs them. Despite being a labour of love, the photography and commentary are highly professional. Harold Forster's narration is based on the draft of a book he'd planned before being pipped at the publishing post by a similar title. His warm and engaging style is completely unstilted, as befits an experienced church guide.

Whilst I assumed I would be able to anticipate many of the curiosities that we would be shown, such as the folly at Mow Cop and the Peckforton elephant and castle, the film is full of unexpected pleasures. When we moved to Barthomley, I was waiting to hear about the well-known tragic civil war history of St Bertoline's Church, but instead we are told an altogether different and much happier tale.

The curiosities featured are quirky, amusing, sad and sometimes a bit spooky. The author leaves no stone unturned, metaphorically, at least: it took ancient glacial rivers to bring three of them down to Cheshire and one of them was used to tether a bear.

Although a DVD allows less time for leisurely exposition than the text of a book, it makes up for this with the attractiveness and immediacy of digital video. John Brough's expertise with the camera and tenacity in waiting for rare glorious summer days are rewarded with gorgeous scenes of the Cheshire countryside

Several of the curiosities featured are in Nantwich, but there are lots of other locations, too. To provide a bald list of them here, however, would detract from the delight of first watching the DVD which lies in wondering where we will be taken next.

Like Alice's White Rabbit, our guide leads us to “curiouser and curiouser" sights.

His  links  between  excerpts  are elegantly done with one leaning tower

 

pointing to another and a new folly following an old one. Video effects are well used to segue pieces together, too, bringing “painted” scenes to life as moving pictures.

 “Curious South Cheshire” is not intended as an exhaustive travelogue of each town or village, but instead its whets the appetite for further research and spurs on the viewer to look again at familiar features and plan expeditions around unfamiliar ones.

 It would be an ideal gift for Cheshire natives and exiles alike. It would be good as a basis for showing visitors the highlights of the area and to engage children and grandchildren with their heritage.

 You could take them to Nantwich Church, for example, tasked with finding “ten green men, twelve mice and what may be the original parson's nose.”

In due course, this film will become a historical artefact itself, capturing Cheshire at a particular point in time and immortalising what I take to be Mr Forster’s Hitchcockian moment, briefly seen emerging from the dog-whipper's pew in St Margaret's Church at Wrenbury. How we will marvel (I hope) at how cars and lorries once thundered down our country lanes.

 The production team are to be congratulated on a very enjoyable film which is dedicated to the memory of soundman Neil Murray, who sadly died before it could be completed.


The review was written by Heather Gage who was born and brought up in Willaston, Nantwich. She is a trained librarian.

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