Friday, April 05, 2024

Aldbourne: John Barleycorn was there before Mr Magister

Last time we were in Aldbourne we saw Jon Pertwee get the better of The Master, or Mr Magister as he was known in this Wiltshire village.

But before the Doctor was in Aldbourne, another BBC camera crew had been there. Click on the still above to watch Desmond Hawkins's meditation on changing attitudes to the countryside and whether village life can still exist in 20th century.

Early on there is much talk of the downs and the ancient bones buried on them. This put me in mind of "the man in the hill" in Richard Jefferies's Wood Magic:

"There never was a yesterday," whispered the wind presently, "and there will never be a tomorrow. It is all one long today. When the man in the hill was you were too, and he still is now you are here."

Jefferies duly gets a namecheck, but the film soon moves on to look at social change in the village. New houses, newcomers, changing farming methods and a groovy Sixties chick.

We see the Aldbourne Carnival, and the parish council meets in the hall where I once gave the Richard Jefferies Society's Birthday Lecture.

But the eeriness has not quite done with us. The film ends with an old boy singing John Barleycorn Must Die.

1 comment:

nigel hunter said...

Heard many versions of John Barleycorn by many a folk group. That was the 1st by a truly country voice.If the music has continued it could have ended with the EU anthem!