Crafta Webb Community Film Project Overview
The Rural Media Company and the communities of Bredwardine, Staunton and Letton embarked on a year-long community film project to uncover the mystery of the lost hamlet of Crafta Webb (Map).
This settlement on Bredwardine Hill, brought to life during filming, expanded rapidly in the early 1800s as a result of the George Jarvis Charity which was set up by George's will to help the poor of the three villages mentioned above. The Rev. Kilvert referred to some of the residents of Crafta Webb in his Diary between 1877 and 1879, but fifty years on it had all but disappeared. The Hereford Sites and Monuments Record (see External Links page) refers to it as a shrunken village, which is still marked on Ordnance Survey maps. No-one knows what happened to the people who once lived there, how they lived and what it was that eventually made them leave.
Residents of the communities have formed a steering group to research the history of the hamlet (also known as Crafty Webb, Croftywebb), and they will help devise, write, perform and produce the finished film with the Rural Media Company. Already there have been offers of help from the County Archives, Hereford Library and the Hereford Archaeologists, and someone has been in touch to pass on a detailed family tree of one of the residents. As well as helping shape and perform in the drama planned about the hamlet, locals will aslo have a chance to train in digital film making and create, shoot and edit their own documentary about the settlement.
The Crafta Webb project has been part financed by the European Union and DEFRA through the Herefordshire Rivers LEADER + Programme.
Local publications including Hereford Splash have featured this project, The Lost Hamlet of Crafta Webb.
Never a dull moment. A task for everyone and everyone for a task. If you are curious, here is our ever-evolving project plan and timeline ( WORK PLAN ).
In an effort to piece together WHO lived WHERE in Crafta Webb back in the 1850s, we have searched the census, going back to 1841, 1851 and 1881.
What we do know: Home to dozens of families Crafta Webb sprang up overnight, when, it is said, an erect chimney-stack with smoke meant you could claim land rights. The settlement had its own grocer, tailor and shoemaker and Francis Kilvert (the local reverend famous for his accounts of Victorian rural life) reports visiting it in his diaries to hold cottage lectures. Nothing now remains on the hill and county records refer only to a "shrunken village" although the name Crafta Webb still appears on Ordnance Survey maps today! No one knows what happened to the people who once resided there, how they lived and what it was that eventually made them leave.
The story of Crafta Webb is one that the majority of Herefordshire's population know nothing about and yet its existence has many modern day parallels and raises vitally important questions for 21st century rural life (housing and land rights, rapid demographic change, in-migration etc.) This unique and compelling tale needs to be told; its resonance will not only be felt by those people who live in the immediate area, but by the whole of the county. Crafta Webb shouldn't be a mysterious footnote in Herefordshire's heritage, its incredible story should be fully researched and uncovered by those communities that still live in its shadow.
The Crafta Webb project has already generated considerable interest and excitement from local communities and groups, Herefordshire Council and key cultural agencies. Rural Media will work closely with Herefordshire Museum and Library Service, the Records Office and Archaeology department to "re-build" this unique settlement. In 2007 Crafta Webb will rise again.
Progress: An open meeting for everyone in Bredwardine and Brobury was held, on Thursday March 23rd 2006 in the Bredwardine and Brobury Village Hall. An update of our Crafta Webb Film Project was given. Many shared stories and tales of they remembered about the Victorian hamlet of CRAFTA WEBB, which disappeared sometime around 1923.
Historical Progress in the Crafta Webb Project:
Success! The application by the Rural Media Company for a grant from the Heritage Lottery to continue with this project was successful. As a result, there have been two series of sessions, open to all and held between October and December 2006. One grouplooked at "Research and Archaeology" and the other at the "Drama and Documentary" films. The field training in archaeology by Herefordshire Archaeology took place in and around the abandoned hamlet of Crafta Webb and a lot of useful physical information was collected from the area. Local people continued with documentary research, which formed the basis for the films. The film group met over the same period and covered the basics of film production, with Lou Osborne lead on script writing.
The drama group met on Saturday 16th December from 1-4pm at Bredwardine Village Hall, and the final meeting of 2006 for the whole project took place at Staunton on Wye School on December 20th 2006 at 6.30pm, where the primary school pupils presented their own delightful animation of a visit by the Reverend Kilvert to Crafta Webb. Short films recalling some of the other activities in the last three months were also shown to the large group assembled, who enjoyed mince pies and mulled wine.
As well as helping research, devise and perform in a new film drama planned about the hamlet, you will also have the opportunity to train in digital filmmaking and create, shoot and edit a documentary. The two films will form part of a package which will also include a 20 page booklet, detailing the background to the project, these will then be distributed regionally, nationally and internationally.
The main location filming was concluded on 17th June 2007 with the crowd scenes at the site of the Crafta Webb settlement below Bredwardine Hill. A truly memorable day. Thanks to all who took part, and to Sarah and Dave Morgan for putting their barn at the disposal of the group and for organising "vittals". Eighty-five villagers participated in this scene, which took 4 hours to film.
In July 2007, the professionals put the filming efforts of the past months together, aided by the small local group who formed the heart of the production. At the same time, these and other locals prepared further filmed and written material which were added to the Crafta Webb story.
Archaeology Report - the report by Christopher Atkinson of the work done during the Project on the archaeology of Crafta Webb and the surrounding area is also available at Herefordshire Archaeology's website, the Sites and Monuments Record. Click on the link:
and look for 'Herefordshire Archaeology Report No. 227'.