The films about Hook Norton cover a wide and impressive range: some are professional, some amateur; some documentaries about current matters, others rather more retrospective, and one entirely fictional! Where copyright allows, we provide links to the films and programmes; in other cases, we indicate where copies may be found.In particular, we would recommend the three long films made by John and Beryl Gibbs, the latter two of which are especially commendable, even if they now appear technically amateur and use an antiquated technology. We are particularly grateful to Martin Quartermain for giving permission to make these three films available to the local public.
1946: Twenty-Four Square Miles, made by Basic Films, issued by the Central Office of Information and distributed by Trilith Films, the Rural Media Charity. Directed by Kay Mander.
The classic film about the rural area in which Hook Norton lies, as it appeared at the end of the war. It was based on research carried out by the Oxford University Agricultural Economic Research Unit in 1943. Commentary by John Arlott, then starting work for the BBC as an agricultural correspondent!
Watch the video.
1974: A Village for Christmas, made by Ray Gosling and Philip Trevelyan and issued by Granada Television in the series “Gosling’s Travels”. An insightful examination of Hook Norton more than forty years ago, enlivened by Ray Gosling’s charm and wit. 25 minutes.
Copies may be purchased from Granada Television, for about £100, which does not include reproduction or circulating rights.
1984: Hook Norton Past and Present, made by John and Beryl Gibbs.
An interesting amateur survey of the village, with some technical shortcomings.
1 hour 40 mins
The film was later improved upon substantially in The Outskirts of Hook Norton (1993) and in the impressive version, Hook Norton in Days Gone By (1995). Both are described below.
1984: Hook Norton Adult Education, an amateur film which now seems lacking in sharpness but gives a taste of the extraordinarily rich programme of adult education classes in which Hook Norton excelled at the time. See also the essay on “Adult Education”.
1992: Twenty-Four Square Miles,
Made by South News and distributed by Trilith Films, the Rural Media Charity. A retrospective look at the original classic and a summary of how things had changed in 45 years.
Watch on YouTube
1993: A Passion for the Countryside, an incomplete amateur video of poor quality but still fascinating. Records a processional theatrical production performed under the southern railway viaduct by local people. It represents a “passion play” for Hook Norton, but its dramatic theme is concealed from us by the obliteration of the later part of the tape. Available here.
1993: The Outskirts of Hook Norton, made by John and Beryl Gibbs.
The most irreplaceable of the Gibbs’s three films, revealing the farms and outlying points of interest on the margins of the parish. Over 100 minutes.
1995: Hook Norton in Days Gone By, made by John and Beryl Gibbs. More than a superior remake of their 1984 pioneer effort, this film is the best study of Hook Norton life between 1890 and 1950, strong in its knowledge and understanding of both place and people. It draws on the old photographs of Hook Norton that the Gibbs had collected. Well over two hours.
1996: Bare Bones, made by the Hook Norton Film Society with financial aid from Cherwell District Council. Written by Nina Daubeny, from a story by Maurice White, and directed by Judy Owen. An amusing mystery set in “Spoof Norton”, which uses recognisable real and fictional characters, sadly some no longer with us, and shows the village as it was in the mid-1990s. At that time too the village boasted a butcher’s shop: without it there would be no story!
The production manager, John Horwood, later produced The Making of Bare Bones (1997), which was his personal (and unedited) record of the production. He apologised both for his amateur camera work in the first five minutes of this film before the professionals took over, and for his spelling some of the titles!
1998: Hooked On Tradition, produced and directed by Falco Friedhoff. A classy documentary about the brewery, with music by the Hook Norton Brass Band.
Watch on YouTube
2014: Tradition Going Forward, produced and directed by a team of Hook Norton volunteers, with the assistance of Film Oxford. A ten-minute film made to celebrate the rebuilding of one of the Brewery’s Victorian chimneys, with the financial assistance of the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Watch on YouTube
YouTube and Other Clips
2014: Countryfile, an item from the BBC programme highlighting the problems over the current planning process surrounding the government’s decision to permit the building of the Bourne View estate. Starring the chair of our Parish Council, Emma Kane.
Watch at You Tube
2016: Hidden Villages
Produced for Channel 4 by . In a programme on the Cotswolds for this series, Penelope Keith briefly visited Hook Norton and the Pear Tree Inn’s Aunt Sally pitch.
© Donald Ratcliffe