In the BBC documentary film, 'Closing Time', the Sussex village of Ditchling campaigns to save the village pub from a commercial assault that makes a nonsense of democracy - and of community.
Across the UK one pub is lost every weekday.
See useful links to organisations campaigning to save local pubs, at the bottom of this page.
The narrative spine of 'Closing Time' is the fate of the Sandrock Inn, once the village pub, now five flats and three small houses at the very heart of Ditchling.
The ultimately unsuccessful, village struggle to save the Sandrock, offers a rich cast of characters, debate, conflict and the opportunity to examine the anatomy of a planning decision that provoked widespread anger, resentment and suspicion.
'Closing Time' poses questions about regional planning policies and the representative process. Is the Parish Council simply an instrument of regional bureaucracy or is it a forum forlocal democracy? It asks questions about the controversial role played by the local District Councilor. The developers have Ditchling in their sights and the village, especially with a South Downs National Park now in prospect, is facing a veritable planning assault.
The film's protagonists include members of the Sandrock Action Group; High Street neighbours who have clashed on the merits of saving the Sandrock; Sandrock managers and a landlord with a family tenure of seven decades; the sports teams; the Ditchling bell-ringers for whom the Sandrock was the Inn of choice; the passing cyclists on the annual London to Brighton bike ride and the villagers who once packed in to watch the World Cup.
This is not a unique story. Across the UK, on average, one pub is lost every day frequently to speculative development. This BBC documentary film asks whether the commercial assault we all face will ultimately make a nonsense of democracy and of community.
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Photo: James Barrie
The Ditchling Films: 'A Very English Village'
Entitled 'A Very English Village',this series of five documentary films for the award-winning BBC 'Storyville' strand were first transmitted by the BBC in Autumn 2005, and repeated on BBC2 in January 2007.
Going for the Kill
The Ditchling film series opens with 'Going for the Kill', in which Luke follows a year in the life of Sussex farmer and Master of the local hunt, Gary Lee, at the time when the contentious Hunting Bill was being debated in Parliament.
A village production of this hit musical of Cold War England, offers insights on backstage Ditchling - an exercise in nostalgia, or updated escapism for a new dark age?
Looking for Mr Gill
'Looking for Mr Gill' is an exploration of the legacy that Eric Gill, maverick genius of the Arts and Crafts Movement, has left to Ditchling, the early twentieth century setting for his controversial experiment in art and community.
The Ditchling Ladies
This, the last film in the series, features four ladies of Ditchling, two in their nineties, who offer entertaining and improbably lively insights on life, loss and love.
Film reviews and viewers' comments on 'A Very English Village'
'An elegiac 90-minute film...an engrossing and deftly crafted
documentary.' The Sunday Times. Read more newspaper reviews and viewers' comments.
BBC Interview with Luke Holland
A transcript of an interview by the BBC with the film-maker, Luke Holland, about the making of the five-part documentary series, 'A Very English Village'.
Useful links relating to Pubs and Pub Closures
Campaign for Real Ale's website - useful info on the nationwide campaign to save Pubs from closure. According to CAMRA, 57 pubs are currently being closed each month in the UK.
The Community Pubs Foundation is a new organisation set up with the aim to:
* Prevent the loss of, or inappropriate alterations to, a public house of community, architectural or historical importance.
* Improve the viability of a public house through the provision of community facilities.
* Protect the future of a public house through community ownership.
Pub is the Hub
The pub has traditionally provided a centre/heart to the hamlet or village and the pub is the hub scheme aims to improve the community value of the pub by finding additional uses for it, thereby improving its viability.
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