Title ID 8929Collection ID1189
CollectionEarly Films
Genre/TypeProfessionalFilm/Video companyFictionAdventure
ThemeEarly film in the South East Rural Life
KeywordsWomen Workers Men Family Rural Areas Animals Farming Old Age
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionHepworth Picture Plays
CameraGeoffrey Faithfull
DirectorCecil Hepworth
WriterGeorge Dewhurst
CastAlma Taylor (Tansy Firle)
FormatBlack & White Silent
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


The story of Tansy, a shepherd's granddaughter, who is adored and mistreated by the men in her life, told over nearly an hour of footage and intertitles. Scenes are shot on location, setting action in the rolling hills of the Devon countryside, as well as interior sets. Intertitle styles make visual distinctions between spoken phrases by the characters, shown in bold white type over black, and the writer's voice, which is conveyed by elaborate script over the same still image. Several interjections are made by Hepworth himself, remarking on the narrative as it unfolds.


Credits roll over a still image of farm labour. The opening scene introduces George Firle, played by Rolf Leslie; 'On the gentle slopes of the Devon Countryside, an old shepherd passes the evening of his days.' George Firle moves his sheep up a grass slope, using his staff to climb the steep gradient. Tansy Firle, played by Alma Taylor, is introduced; 'His grand-daughter had inherited his firm, loving control of the flock.' Tansy walks, looking over the hills. Clem, played by Gerald Ames, is next to be introduced; 'A strolling harvester, moving constantly from farm to farm.' Clem operates a threshing machine, in work wear and a cap. Tansy leaves her grandfather, where he sits with his flock by the water, and walks through the fields to meet Clem. The couple kiss and embrace, excited to see one another. "Come along this evening Tansy, and give me a hand with the cooking of supper," he says. When the pair arrive at the farm, the employer looks unhappy.

'Twenty miles away, the Wilverleys had owned Fair Mile Farm since man could remember.' An elderly man sits at a table with his two sons. Meanwhile, Tansy sets off to meet her sweetheart after her grandfather has left for his evening glass of ale. She passes the employer on the path; "You seem to be in a mighty hurry, Miss Tansy - don't let me detain you," he says. Joad Wilverley, played by James Carew, is introduced; 'The elder of the two sons was a man embittered by the loss of his young wife.' Joad Wilverley stands by his wife's grave, deep in thought. Will Wilverley, played by Hugh Clifton, is also introduced; 'The younger son had always been under the domination of the two older men.' Will Wilverley walks through the village to church and walks arm in arm with his brother.

'Tansy: In the Dark Years following the Death of Joad's Wife, the Bond between the Two Brothers had Grown Stronger. Hepworth.' Joad worries that their father will be waiting for them at home. Tansy puts their supper things away, but Clem locks her in his caravan. Upon returning to the house, the shepherd finds that Tansy is not at home. 'Alone with Tansy, Clem's base nature shows itself.' Inside Clem's caravan, Clem refuses him and goes to open the door, which Clem has locked. He takes hold of her, and she fights back, terrified. The girl's grandfather raps on the door of Clem's caravan with his staff, come to rescue Tansy. 'Tansy: While, in that Distant Village, the Brothers are Searching Everywhere for a Shepherd. Hepworth.'

The employer arrives at the shepherd's house to speak to Tansy; "You're making trouble here; servant's morals are not my business but I must draw the line somewhere." Angered, Tansy's grandfather pushes over the kitchen table and clutches at the collar of his employer, who promptly asks them to leave. 'Since the death of Joad's wife, old Wilverley was resigned to a home without the saving feminine touch.' The Wilverley men smoke around their table. 'Tansy: Every Market Day Joad Wilverley Drives into Marshminster. Hepworth.' Joad Wilverley stops to speak to Tansy and her grandfather, seeking work, and offers the pair a lift to Goldringham. Instead, they set off to walk the fifteen miles. 'Returning home that evening, Joad overtakes old Firle, now at the end of his strength.' He takes the pair to Fair Mile Farm; "We have got a sick man here, Will," says Joad. The brothers lift the old man, now dead, from the cart. 'Tansy: And so Tansy Came to Fair Mile Farm. Hepworth.'

The Wilverleys discuss their need for a shepherd. Tansy enters with the sheepdog, Airybella. She asks to be employed as the new shepherd at Fair Mile Farm. Joad begins to laugh at her suggestion that a woman and a female dog should take care of the family's flock. "Come along with the dog, my girl. We'll just see what stuff the pair of you are made of," he says. With Tansy standing by, A herds the flock across the field, proving to the men that she is up to the job. Soon, Will takes his proper place in managing the farm. Joad takes notice of Will's attentions; 'Tansy: As the Days Pass, Joad Begins to Wonder what Attraction Draws his Brother to the Lambing Pens. Hepworth.' Joad comes to speak to Tansy, while she works. Lambs are born to their mother, and begin to walk in the pen. Tansy laughs as they push one another. A great flock runs through the pen and out into the field after a productive lambing season. Will leaves to walk back to the house, but turns to look at Tansy. When she turns to him, he turns back and walks on.

Joad has come to a decision about Will, and speaks to his father and Robert, the butler, announcing that Fair Mile Farm is to have a new mistress. The two men look shocked as he makes his announcement; "I have chosen Tansy Firle," he says, refusing to believe that she might reject him. He has decided he will ask her after the sheep washing in May. 'Tansy: May Day Brought Varying Degrees of Happiness to Different People. Hepworth.' Tansy starts to walk into the village with a farm hand, when Joan arrives in a horse and trap to take her instead. The farm hand, angered at his rejection, takes off the paper shirt collar he has put on for the occasion, and walks back. Arriving back at the farm, Joad has bought Tansy a new scarf, but leaves without asking for Tansy's affections. 'Tansy: After all, it was Will who was the First to Speak of the Matter. Hepworth.' Will walks over the hills towards Tansy, seen from a distance, at work with her flock. He tells her the sheep washing has been arranged for the second week in May. They embrace in the field, and walk together while Tansy works.

'Tansy: It was not until Sheep Washing Time that the Two Brothers Came to a Realization of What was Between them. Hepworth.' Tansy herds the sheep through the village to the river. Tansy and a group of male workers wash the sheep by throwing them into the river and keeping them from climbing up the banks with long poles. Joad approaches to speak with Tansy. Will too comes to speak with Tansy. Realizing the brothers share their love for Tansy, the brothers leave. 'Tansy: There Follow Many Peaceful Days in Lonesome Valley. Hepworth.' At evening, Will sees Joad at Tansy's cottage, having delivered to her a new shawl. Will tells Tansy that Joad loves her, and she starts to cry at the table. Will comforts her, "I thought ye'd grown weary of me of late," she explains. He announces that they be married in Marchminster at once. 'But out of he past looms a sinister shadow'; Clem is waiting near Tansy's cottage, entering once Will has left. She pushes Clem away when he advances, asking if she has told Will Wilverley why her grandfather had to leave his job. She escapes, running out of her cottage, Clem giving chase.

Will confronts Joad, but he refuses to accept that Will and Tansy will be married despite Joad's presents. Tansy enters and Joad informs her that she must leave with no notice but a month's pay; "Take the money and go! A moment ago I could have killed him, my brother, just because of you." Tansy begs Will to explain their feelings for one another but he pushes her away. She throws her month's pay at Joad and leaves. Joad, coming to his senses, pushes Will out of the room to find Tansy. "A woman only hurries away from her love just as fast enough to be caught up," says Robert. Clem finds Tansy before Will can catch up with her. Seeing the pair in a struggle, Will fights with Clem in the woods, pushing him to the ground. Returning to Tansy, the couple embrace, their figures silhouetted against the sunlight behind. The End.