Documentary on Banburyshire village is saved for the nation - film chosen for the British archive

A documentary made about a Banburyshire village has been given the rare honour of being accepted into the National Archives.

By Roseanne Edwards
Monday, 30th May 2022, 11:30 am
Updated Monday, 30th May 2022, 11:59 am
Film-makers Roger Corke and Anne Joyner whose Hornton documentary has been included in the British Film Institute archive
Film-makers Roger Corke and Anne Joyner whose Hornton documentary has been included in the British Film Institute archive

The feature-length film - There's Only One Hornton! - documents a year in the life of Hornton village and was made at the turn of the century by residents Roger Corke and Anne Joyner to mark the millennium.

However it has taken until now for it to be accepted by the British Film Institute for its prestigious archive.

There, the original master videotapes of the 130-minute film will lodge in perpetuity, accessible online and available for future generations to see just what life was like for the village at the turn of the century."It was a real labour of love," said Mr Corke, a film-maker who normally makes TV documentaries for series like Channel 4's Dispatches and the BBC's Panorama.

Bill Freeman of Hornton who described how his mother had received a distressing telegram during the First World War

"We put so much into this film that I'm really pleased that it won't be lost."

The film starts in the first days of the Twentieth Century and finishes as the church clock chimes for the new millennium on New Year's Eve 1999.

Since its release, copies have been sent across the world to countries as far away as Australia. One of the narrators is former Hornton actress Jo Joyner, now well known for her roles in Ackley Bridge and Shakespeare and Hathaway. Jo is Anne's daughter.

The film also features ten villagers - each born in a different decade.

Hornton stonemason Trevor Dean whose skills are demonstrated on the documentary

"Our eighty-year-old, Bill Freeman, was born at the start of the First World War in the cottage he lived in for his entire life," said Mr Corke.

"I first decided to make the film after he told me how he just about remembered, when he was very young, how his mother was upset one day about something. Later, he found out that the postman had just delivered the telegram to tell her his father had been killed at the Front."

All the key village celebrations - children dancing round the Maypole, church services and the annual pop concert – are featured but this is no chocolate box depiction of a pretty village, for the film doesn't shy away from controversy.

"Our 30-year-old, Adrian Horsley, talks about the rural housing crisis and how he could not afford to buy a house in the village he'd lived in all his life. Our twenty-year-old, Laura Pike, takes us on a fox hunt - still legal then.

Eric Turner's prize vegetables are recorded for posterity on the Hornton documentary

"Our sixty-year-old was Sally Tweedsmuir, whose husband had just become an hereditary member of the House of Lords - only to lose his right to sit there almost as soon as he'd taken his seat. We also talked to a cattle farmer, who was in the eye of the mad cow disease storm at that time, and we filmed the Ofsted inspector visiting the village school."

Very few documentaries of this kind are accepted by the BFI but curator, Patrick Russell, was enthusiastic about the Hornton film because it echoes another documentary - 24 Square Miles (shot in countryside between Banbury and Chipping Norton in 1945) in the National Archive.

Mr Corke has passed over copyright of the film to the BFI but he can get free copies of the film for the next 50 years - by which time he will be 116.

Ivy Groome buys a Remembrance poppy from Adrian Horsley
Hornton resident Bill Buchan is sworn in as Baron Tweedsmuir, a hereditary member of the House of Lords, for a very short time
Champagne flows as Hornton residents celebrate the Millennium