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
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
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
“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