The Luttrell Psalter Film
Journey with us into the colourful pages of the Luttrell Psalter and across the fields of Medieval England
The Luttrell Psalter Film is a short film based on the famous images of medieval village life from the 14th c. Luttrell Psalter. The Psalter was made for Sir Geoffrey Luttrell of Irnham in Lincolnshire and is famous for its depiction of ordinary people. It is a remarkable and precious part of Lincolnshire’s heritage. The film was made to be shown at The Collection, Lincoln’s museum.
The film was the inspiration of Nick Loven who devised, researched, directed, shot and edited the film. The film depicted the different activities that went on in the four different seasons and so to accurately represent the seasons, the film was shot over the course of a year. The project became a community-wide collaboration led by WAG Screen community group (a branch of Washingborough Archaeology Group) and was sponsored by local businesses and universities and invoved over one hundred local specialists, craftspeople and performers. It is very much the product of two local degrees; Media Production (The University of Lincoln) and Heritage Studies (Bishop Grosseteste University College), and both faculties have been extremely supportive.
The film took almost two years to make and the small, dedicated team of graduates have worked full time and unpaid for the duration. It was made on a cash budget of around £10,500, but with a great deal of support from local people – one company has allowed us to use two fully-equipped offices free of charge. We even resorted to a medieval bargaining system of exchange of trades; our harrow, for example, cost two hand made Tudor shirts!
We have found the experience extraordinary; we had to overcome awful unseasonal weather, limited funds, sick actors (people and animals) and other unexpected disasters. We have, however, met so many wonderful people and had so much support and goodwill that that experience far outweighs any of the problems we have met. We have searched out and found the local specialists we needed – often in the most unexpected places. The experimental archaeology we have undertaken has at times been ground breaking (literally). We have recorded music from the Psalter which has not been played for over 600 years. We have been involved with the Time Team, and Terry Jones (Monty Python) has become the film’s patron. We have also gathered an internet following and now have considerable international interest the film.
WAG Screen’s intention, apart from making a short film to inspire an interest in Lincolnshire’s medieval history and heritage, was to stimulate the development of a local film heritage industry to create jobs and opportunities for the very talented graduates and undergraduates from the two universities. We do hope that this is the start of something much bigger.
The film features an original sound track of medieval music and 48 minutes of extras, including behind the scenes documentaries, which explore medieval life and the making of the film.
A bit about the film:
Guided by the detailed and often humorous images of everyday life from the Luttrell Psalter, the Luttrell Psalter Film gives a unique glimpse of a year in the life of a medieval village. Filmed over four seasons, it shows the changing landscape with its fields and flowers, and the daily activities which dominated the lives of our forefathers. This 20-minute film draws on over 35 different images from the margins of the manuscript, allowing the people from the Psalter to walk out from its vellum pages.
A series of detailed images in the Psalter portray the significant events of the medieval agricultural year, from sowing to harvesting, including the odd domestic incident on the way, and these formed the basis for our short film. Our aim was to do on film what the original artist achieved on vellum through a keen observation of people and nature, an infinite attention to detail and a sense of humour!
We wanted to recreate the richness of the mediaeval landscape, including the wild flowers, insects, animals and birds, which would have been so abundant then, and were significant enough in the lives of people of the time to be recorded in detail in the Psalter.
The film includes a wealth of wildlife filming, which has mainly been done on Lincolnshire nature reserves, but where necessary further afield. For example, Nick Loven, director, (above) had to travel to the rorth west to film red squirrels (below). We wanted to illustrate how deeply and intimately people’s lives were connected to the landscape and the seasons.
Director: Nick Loven
Co-Producers: Chris Roberts, Pauline Loven and Jo Sullivan
Costume By: Pauline Loven and The Orchard House Wardrobe