At Northampton Film Festival we believe Northamptonshire is kind of a big deal. We say Northants is a county of Rebels and Revolutionaries, Misfits and Mavericks, Creatives and Changemakers. But does everyone agree? We asked the Northants public to join us in creating a manifesto film to capture the county’s unique spirit. Over 120 volunteers got involved, thanks to the support of Northamptonshire Community Foundation, and this is what we made.
Who and what can you spot which makes Northants kind of a big deal? (Don’t worry there’s notes below!)
Northamptonshire: The County Of Spires and Squires – not heard that before? Northamptonshire: Why this county of spires and squires is more than just a backdrop to the M1 (countrylife.co.uk)
The film features the words of poet John Clare and historian Mike Ingram, and the voices of Writer Alan Moore and Broadcaster John Griff, with some brilliant footage donated by the Northamptonshire public plus archive from Tony Smith and The Northamptonshire Film Archive Trust based at Chester House.
You will see the wonderful Stoke Bruerne, archive of the infamous Wellingborough Zoo (is that a lion I see in that pub?!), the Corby Cube housing the Corby Core theatre with the Corby Steelworker statue outside, and Kettering’s Wicksteed Park which opened in 1921, making it the oldest theme park on UK mainland.
Also featured is Northampton’s Lift Tower, the UK’s tallest research and testing tower, the knight statues marking the site of Northampton Castle and Lyveden New Bield, an unfinished building serving as a poignant example of one man standing up for his beliefs in dangerous times, through an act of quiet and creative rebellion.
We included Viking vs English Civil War re-enactors as a nod to the many pivotal battles fought on Northamptonshire soil. We also made a nod to Northampton’s Super Gran who wouldn’t stand by and watch bad things just happen. We think there are many brilliant people in Northamptonshire that embody this amazing spirit and we salute you all. Then we came bang up to date with Europe’s largest urban sports venue, Corby’s Adrenaline Alley featuring two athletes at the top of their game: UK Scooter Champion Jayden Sharman and BMX Olympic Bronze Medallist Declan Brookes. There are other references to sport throughout with Northamptonshire housing world class teams and facilities such as Silverstone Circuit – we see the Cobblers ground and fans of the Saints rugby club in the finale scene. There is also reference to the legendary Walter Tull.
From archive footage we feature Sulgrave Manor – the home of George Washington’s English ancestors and therefore the original home of the special relationship between the UK and US…. – and the historically-significant Fotheringhay. You’ll also see not one but both Eleanor Crosses and reference to Daventry Calling.
Then around the table in Boughton House’s Great Hall we have Philip Doddridge, Caroline Chisholm, Margaret Bondfield, Charles Bradlaugh and King Henry III. We are also back at Boughton House in our scene about how bonfire night originated in Northamptonshire featuring Montagu, Tresham and Catesby, and we snuck in some tourists for good measure to highlight the fact Northamptonshire has a huge number of historic homes for visitors.
And of course we couldn’t make a film without referencing that Northamptonshire is “still the shoemaking capital of the world”. From Dr. Marten boots of Wollaston to the beautiful shoes of Northampton’s Trickers.
Then in our finale scene at the lovely Forum Cinema, we hosted a whole gang of people that help make Northants kind of a big deal: Abbess Honora Downton, buried at Delapre Abbey, and St Thomas a Becket represented by Past Alive, Born to Perform who were Golden Buzzer Winners at Britain’s Got Talent 2022, Robin Hillman as John Clare, charitable and community organisations like The Lewis Foundation, Nene Rivers Trust, Chester House Estate, Delapre Abbey, Youth Works, Fermynwoods Contemporary Art and Northamptonshire Community Foundation, Anita Neil Britain’s first Black female Olympian from Wellingborough, Steve Pateman the man behind the Kinky Boots story, local creative people and organisations like C2C artists, filmmakers Tony Klinger and Tyla Sharp, the Comedy Crate, Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust and Daisie-Belle Downer from BBC Radio Northampton, and many community volunteers (some wearing Northamptonshire-made shoes too!). And did you spot Northamptonshire Sauce in there? So yeah, kind of a big deal….
During the prep for this project lots of people contributed their ideas. Here are just a few of them to show you how we got started: