Collection Nightingale Family


A collection of films by amateur film-maker Percy Nightingale, showing his family throughout the 1920s and 1930s at or around, their Crawley home.

Collection ID33Reference codeWS 941130
TitleNightingale Family
Dates1920s - 1930s
ProductionAlbert Jones Percy Nightingale, Moses Nightingale [?]
MaterialsFilm 9.5mm
Access statusCopyright and access restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


The Nightingale collection comprises home movies dating from 1927 - 1986. Percy Nightingale, his sister Florence Nightingale Payne and their brother-in-law Albert Jones filmed the bulk of the material in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Encouraged, and partly financed by patriarch Moses Nightingale, the trio filmed family celebrations, gatherings, holidays and outings. The films offer a visual record of a large, affluent and close-knit extended family, tended to revolve around Moses Nightingale, his wife Ruth and their Crawley home 'Hazeldene'.
The collection therefore contains films such as Hazeldene 1929 and Golden Wedding Celebrations at 'Hazeldene' (1931;1934) which record the family members interacting with each other in 'Hazeldene's' large garden. The latter film also includes footage of the 'Hazeldene Orchestra' celebrating it's 50th anniversary. Moses Nightingale founded the orchestra with his children and grandchildren, some of whom are filmed playing with the orchestra in 1931, seem to have inherited his musicianship.

'Hazeldene Orchestra' was only one of the ways in which Moses Nightingale, a successful corn merchant, gained a high public profile in Crawley - he was also a keen philanthropist. One of his philanthropic activities was captured in [Crawley Events] (1928 - 1937) - in 1929 he donated £1,000 worth of playing field equipment to the town's new recreation ground, and was guest of honour at its opening. In addition to the opening of the recreation ground, the Nightingale film-makers recorded other notable local events such as those seen in [Local Scenes and Family Pictures] (1927; 1929). This film contains a small piece of literary history, namely the first public appearance of AA Milne’s Winnie the Pooh characters. The characters, led by A A Milne's son Christopher Robin, are filmed in a parade at the 1929 Ashdown Forest Pageant.
Although the Nightingale films from the late 1920s and early 1930s only capture the family over a small timeframe, they constitute a rich collection of home movie footage. Shot from the perspective of three amateur film-makers (one of whom was female), they provide an intimate portrayal of a large family that valued spending time together. The collection offers an access point into a range of research topics, and is supported by a contemporary genealogy project, which has been undertaken by a family ancestor. Besides the 1920s and 1930s films, the collection also contains a small number of home movie films from the 1980s. Recordings of family weddings are predominant amongst these films, serving to offer a fascinating and tangible link with the pre-World War Two films.