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The People's Land

About the film

A Technicolor guide to some of the coastline, countryside, and properties preserved by the National Trust.


Release year
Ralph Keene
Production company
Strand Film
Geoffrey Unsworth
Ralph Vaughan Williams
Frederick Grisewood
Sound recording
Al Rhind
Musical director
Muir Mathieson
Running time (minutes)
10 mins 05 secs
Music Played by
London Symphony Orchestra
Musicians led by
George Stratton

Original Description

The Properties of the National Trust
'A film of National Trust properties of beauty and historic interest, preserved for the people. They include prehistoric stone circles, ancient castles like fourteenth-century Bodiam, a Chiltern village, stretches of the Sussex downs, the famous valley of Dovedale, 14000 acres of lovely country in Westmorland. This noble heritage is held in public trust - for ever.'
(Films of Britain - British Council Film Department Catalogue - 1947-50)


  • Identified locations in this film include:
  • The White Cliffs of Dover; St Andrew’s Church, Alfriston, East Sussex; Bodiam Castle, East Sussex; The Bridgewater Monument, Ashridge Park; Little Moreton Hall, Cheshire; West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire; Dovedale Valley, Derbyshire.
  • The church that features at the 1-minute mark is St Andrew’s Church in Alfriston, East Sussex. This church also appears in the background of a scene in the British Council film Make Fruitful the Land. Though the church is not owned by the National Trust, the attached Alfriston Clergy House (not shown in the film) was the first property to be acquired by the organisation.
  • When this film was first made, it had a different (unknown) narrator. The British Council were unhappy with them, however, and decided to have a new commentary recorded by a “more verily commentator”, ultimately choosing BBC broadcaster Freddie Grisewood.


Click below - or on the link on the right for a transcript of the film


English Voiceover

This is England. It’s a small island but it has some of the loveliest country and some of the prettiest villages. And some of the largest, ugliest, and most vigorous cities in the world.


English Voiceover

In many countries, the need to preserve natural beauty and noble surroundings has been recognised by the state. In England, they have been saved by the people.


English Voiceover

In 1895, without assistance from the government, a number of private enthusiasts formed The National Trust, dedicated to this work. The fruits of their idealism are more than ever welcome today, when the cares of daily life lead more and more people to spend their leisure away from the cities in the peace of the countryside.


English Voiceover

This great stone circle beneath mighty Helvellyn in the Lake District was set up in adoration in strange, forgotten gods.


English Voiceover

And magnificent Bodiam Castle was built in the 14th century by one of the Black Prince’s knights as a comfortable residence which could yet house a community in times of siege.


English Voiceover

Little Moreton Hall – a famous example of Cheshire black and white architecture – is still lived in by the family who built it in the days of Queen Elizabeth.


English Voiceover

Here in the mountains of Westmoreland is a farm typical of the district. The Trust is an easy landlord to farmers and encourages good husbandry on its farmlands.


English Voiceover

West Wycombe in the Chilterns is one of several villages owned and protected in their entirety by the Trust.


English Voiceover

Over a thousand places and over a 150,000 acres of England are held in public trust forever, as every kind of country from high moorlands to rolling downs, and every kind of homestead, from splendid castles to humble cottages. Many estates were presented by their owners; others were purchased by donations from many small contributors.


English Voiceover

To the children, the open country holds a magic promise of adventure. In the fresh air and sunlight beyond the ancient lanes they can play in a world of their own.


English Voiceover

Dovedale, in the heart of England, lies near mining towns and centres of the cotton and pottery industries, whose people flock in their thousands every year to explore this lovely valley and its great pinnacles of limestone.


English Voiceover

Nine-hundred years ago, the Norman invaders found much of the east of England like this fen land in Wycombe. Today, hardly changed, it is still bright with flowers, the haunt of birds, moths, and butterflies.


English Voiceover

Here is England’s lakeland. The countryside that Wordsworth loved. Small wonder that its islands and gleaming waters inspired some of the country’s greatest national poetry.


English Voiceover

People come over these hills from far away, down long the slopes, through Langdale, to the Pikes, past Friar’s Crag, up Birch Crag Borrowdale, over the pass to Crummock Water.


English Voiceover

The climbers, the children, and the fishermen, they come from the crowded cities to refresh their spirits. The land that welcomes them is administered by the Trust, but the people are its guardians. For the unspoiled beauty of this rich heritage of Britain, defended against every foe by the hearts and hands of their forebears, is still the responsibility of the people.