Title ID 838Collection ID232
TitleBirling, My Parish
Genre/TypeAmateurIndependent AmateurNon-fictionActuality/Factual
ThemeRural Life
KeywordsFetes Local History Religious Activities Religious Buildings Rural Areas Villages Trades
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionDenis Anstey
CameraDenis Anstey
DirectorDenis Anstey
SoundGeorge Watts
Other creditsIan Forman (research)
FormatColour Sound
Duration17 min.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


A portrait of the village of Birling and the surrounding countryside, its church, village store, forge and village fair, narrated by the parish rector.


Winner of the Amateur Cine World ‘Ten Best Competition 1964 - 3 Star award’, this amateur film documentary gives a flavour the scenes around the village focusing on the parish church of All Saints. The Rev. A.E. Waterhouse narrates the film, describing Birling as a quiet village of 300 people surrounded by farmland. The film shows streets and scenes around the village, including: the church, village shop, old and new houses and the stream running through the village. The village forge is featured and the blacksmith explains his work as he forms wrought iron, making a gate. The original horseshoe racks in the forge roof are seen and the blacksmith shows several different items made in the forge, including more wrought iron gates, a chimney canopy and hand made copper pots. The film then focuses on the village church, with well lit scenes of the altar, choir and congregation inside the church, to the sound of hymn signing. Scenes of the surrounding countryside, fields and pastures are accompanied by the sound of hymns. The commentary describes the relationship between the 12th century church and the Nevill family who owned the estate. The Nevill crest, shields and family pew still feature in the church and family ancestors are interred in the crypt. Still photographs are shown of the nearby Nevill estate manor before and after it was destroyed by fire in 1917. The film returns to the interior of the church and with the sound of the congregation reciting the Creed and then the Lord’s Prayer, the film shows the altar, cross, organ pipes, arches, lectern, pews, silver communion chalice pulpit and bell ringing ropes. The film then moves on to show the village fair. The rector describes it as an annual event organised by local parishioners with proceeds going to the village and church funds. There are various scenes of people enjoying the fete, playing games, looking at stalls, playing ‘Hoop La’, a pole joust, a record player, people having tea, swing boat rides, children drinking ‘R Whites’ fizzy drinks, a coconut shy and a horse ride. The film finishes with a wedding scene at the church, with the film-maker Denis Anstey concluding the film and reading the film credits. An Amateur Cine World award leader appears at the end of the film.


A Still from 'Birling, my Parish' (1964) - a group of people having tea

Related resources


Location: Snodland Historical Society Museum Library and Archive The museum in Snodland (near Birling) holds a number of records of relevance to the history of Birling, All Saints Church and the Nevill family, including documents such as ‘A Brief History of All Saints’ Church Birling’ and a ‘Newspaper account of Birling Manor fire’.

Further Information on file at Screen Archive South East

A copy of the Amateur Cine World ‘Ten Best Competition 1964 - 3 Star award’ certificate is held, along with other relevant documents in the Screen Archive South East Accessions Files