The Ditchling films

storyville and dog sequence

'A Very English Village'

These five documentary films for the award-winning BBC 'Storyville' strand were first transmitted by the BBC in Autumn 2005, and repeated in January 2007. Together, they make a lovely Christmas gift or Birthday present.

Film-maker with camera and dogs

Set in and around Ditchling, the small East Sussex village that has been home to Director Luke Holland and his family, for the past decade, this series take us beyond the postcard gloss of England's rural idyll. This ancient English village, which might be seen as at the margins of change, is in fact connected to events taking place on the larger global stage.

The 9/11 attacks in New York claimed the lives of two former residents, one of them an ex-pupil from the village school.

These films are about change, seen through the template of a supposedly 'timeless' English village - a place rooted in ancient traditions. This is as good a place as any from which to observe the radical transformations taking place around us - and to us. Today nowhere is isolated, remote or unaffected.

Ditchling and the South Downs

Ditchling is the typical, even archetypal Downland village, just a few miles from the Sussex coast. Its traditional architecture of brick, flint and hanging tile, is matched by more contemporary materials, as new buildings re-define this village's ancient boundaries and large gardens are given over to new housing.

The tensions provoked by the pressures of development are palpable. With a population of just 1600, the village boasts no fewer than 44 societies - including the world's oldest village horticultural society and a very active film society.

This village was home for much of the 20th Century to a remarkable community of artists, founded by sculptor and letter-cutter Eric Gill, a leading but controversial figure in the Arts and Crafts Movement.

Celebrity residents include 'Forces Sweetheart' Dame Vera Lynn and rock musician Herbie Flowers, whose credits include the bass line of Lou Reed's 'Walk on the Wild Side'. Ditchling is full of surprises.

A Very English Village

To purchase the series of five films on three dvds for £30 plus postage and packing, please click on the button below.

Going for the Kill
The 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.

Salad Days
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.

Closing Time
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.

The Ditchling Ladies
This, the last 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 comments on 'A Very English Village'
'An elegiac 90-minute 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'.

Many people love the lyrical guitar music that accompanies the series. It was written and performed by the gifted guitarist, Richard Durrant, who lives and works here in Sussex.

photo of Dorothy and tinman

Photo: James Barrie

Top of this page on the Ditchling films