"The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh"
St. Clement's Church - Old Romney, England
Folks that know me are well aware of my long-term interest in Disney television shows. Heck, I even wrote a book for Disney on the subject, "The Wonderful World of Disney Television." One of my favorite shows was a three-parter titled "The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh," starring Patrick McGoohan in a dual role as Dr. Syn, a church vicar who rides by night as the mysterious scarecrow to foil the tax collectors of 18th-century England. The original Disney press releases about the show are available as a download.
In 1990 my wife and I were on a driving vacation in England, with no particular destination in mind, other than heading south from London this time. Our usual modus operandi is to come to a fork in the road and take the smaller of the two, which has led us to some fun and interesting places. On this particular trip it led us down to the Romney Marsh area, and much to my surprise, we came across the church used in the show.
I recognized it right away, and quickly parked the car to take a quick look around. It was late in the day, and my daughter was sleeping in the car, so I didn't want to take too long. The sky was quite gray, typical of the weather for almost all of that trip, and the sun was starting to set, so the lighting wasn't spectacular, but I shot the few remaining frames on the roll before it was time to get back on the road.
I wasn't planning on being in the area, much less actually visiting the church, or I would have brought some photos from the show along to try to duplicate the shots. In this publicity photo, the villagers file out of church one Sunday, passing Dr. Syn on the way out.
Happily I managed to take a picture that was fairly close to the one above. A more modern fence surrounded the property, and the area with the horse and cart above is now a paved car park, but the church itself doesn't look like it has changed at all.
The church is one of the oldest in England, having been built in the 12th century.
The original novel the show was based on was actually set in Dymchurch, which is about 12 miles away. The Disney crew felt this church looked better in the role, partially as the surrounding countryside was still largely undeveloped.
Disney helped restore the church in exchange for being allowed to film there. A small souvenir booklet available inside the church proudly noted it had starred in the show - then thanked the wrong studio for the funds to repair the building!
Several years later I was fortunate to enjoy a brief mail exchange with Patrick McGoohan. He didn't have a good copy of the show and I was pleased to be able to send him one along with some publicity photos he needed as well.
I would have loved to get a signed photo of him as "The Prisoner," one of my favorite non-Disney shows, but the person who introduced us said not to push my luck, as he was often quite touchy about signing material from it. I did dare to mention in a letter that I enjoyed it and had been to Portmeirion, where several episodes were filmed, and he replied that it was "an interesting experience" and "a lovely location."
This page was last updated on October 30, 2017
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