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Westminster Abbey

About the film

The history of Westminster Abbey and a tour of the monuments within it; accompanied by choral music and including footage of the coronation of King George VI in 1937.

Details

Release year
1945
Director
Horace Shepherd
Production company
Inspiration Pictures
Screenplay
Horace Shepherd
Cinematographers
Oscar Burn, Ben Hart, Walter Scott
Composer
Horace Shepherd
Narration
Alvar Lidell
Sound recording
Norman Leevers
Running time (minutes)
19 mins 12 secs
Music Played by
London Symphony Orchestra
Organist
Dr Peasgood
Accompanied by
Westminster Choir

Original Description

Where the Kings and Queens are Crowned
'The history of Westminster Abbey is the history of England. Here Parliament once met; here for centuries the Kings and Queens of England have been crowned; and here are buried illustrious Englishmen of all times––sovereigns, statesmen, poets, scientists, musicians. In the nave is the tomb of an Unknown Warrior, brought from Flanders in 1920 as representative of all the nameless British dead in the War of 1914–1918. Westminster Abbey is a lovely example of Early English architecture. Shots include the coronation of King George VI.’
(Films of Britain - British Council Film Department Catalogue - 1946)

Trivia

  • Westminster Abbey was so challenging to produce during the war that it took nearly three years to make, and thwarted two production companies. Ralph Keene, director of several British Council films, wrote:

     

    “I am sorry to have to say that I am of the opinion that a worth-while film could not be made of this subject under present conditions.

    All the relics, tombs, shrines, etc: have either been removed, or are completely sandbagged-up. This includes... all the historical monuments which are the very centre and basis of the story of the Abbey...

    For my own part, I should not like to take on the responsibility for a film which I do not believe can be made in a way that the subject merits, and, if you are agreeable, I should like to withdraw from this contract and concentrate on... subjects to which I think we can do full justice.”

  • The organist seen playing in Westminster Abbey, Dr Peasgood, would go on to play at a number of state occasions at Westminster Abbey, including the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
  • All three of the potential directors for this film were told to read Historical Memorials of Westminster Abbey by Dean Arthur Stanley before commencing work - a task which contributed to the delays in production.