A Kingdom of My Own

1962 , East Bergholt (Suffolk)

BBC Television documentary on the life and work of John Constable and his relationship with his native village.

Long shots of the countryside around East Bergholt that was to inspire many of Constable's paintings. Shots of a tour bus on the lane approaching Flatford Mill and interior shots showing the passengers and the guide giving his commentary. The tourists walk down to Flatford Mill. There are some shots of the Stour Valley and interviews with tourists who offer their opinion of John Constable and his work. Other shots show how tourism has changed the area with cafes and postcard booths. All of these opening scenes are intercut with stills of Constable's paintings. The main body of the film features dramatised interludes over readings from Constable's letters and diary as well as commentary, and tell the story of Constable's life. Landscape shots are intercut with stills from Constable's paintings showing the same scene. There are shots of places that were important to Constable, including Dedham Grammar School as well as many buildings that featured in his paintings; Flatford Mill, Willie Lott's Cottage, and buildings around East Bergholt. Stills of some of the principal characters in Constable's life. These include his parents, Golding and Anne Constable; Dr. Grimwood, the master of Dedham Grammar School; Dr. John Fisher, Rector of Langham and later Bishop of Salisbury and John Fisher, his nephew and Constable's Friend. John Fisher introduced Constable to the Close at Salisbury and there are stills of Constable's painting of Salisbury Cathedral, a painting the bishop didn't like. Constable's courtship of Maria Bicknell is told at length. Included here are studies Constable painted of his wife and their seven children. There are also paintings of Brighton, where the Constable's spent much of their time, hoping to improve Maria's health. Constable's friend, the American writer C.R. Leslie is quoted. The film shows how Maria's death affected Constable's work, increasing the impression of melancholy. The film ends showing the house where Constable died, scenes from modern London, and from East Bergholt. These feature the building of a new housing development, a new primary school, and the A12, showing how that too is changing.

Featured Buildings

East Bergholt Church; Salisbury Cathedral; Flatford Mill; Willie Lott's Cottage; 40, Well Walk, Hampstead

Keywords

Artists; Landscape; Painting; Tourism

Other Places

Dedham; Flatford; London

Background Information

There are many stills of Constable's paintings in the film. These include; Portraits of his parents, Ann and Golding Constable and of his wife, Maria Bicknell. Stratford Mill, for which Constable couldn't find a buyer but which sold in 1951 for 42,000 guineas.The Hay Wain, which was sold to a French dealer. Constable found no buyer when he exhibited the painting at the R.A. in 1821.

  • Producer : Malclom Freegard

  • Camera : John Lawes

  • Script : Norman Scarfe

  • Script : Malcolm Freegard

  • Editor : Alvin Bailey

  • Narrator : Paul Tilley

  • Production company : BBC Television

Manifestations

A Kingdom of My Own

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    Parts
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    25/06/2021
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    Sound
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