Thursday, 8 September 2011

A Kernal of Truth

I'm slowly working my way through a Powell & Pressburger box set which I found on ebay.  My lack of time to carry out my favourite activity of watching old films means that I had to tackle the very long Life and Death of Colonel Blimp in 4 instalments. It's 20 years since I last watched it so I had forgotten all but the general story line.

The film follows Roger Livesey's Colonel from the turn of the last century to the second world war (when it was made).  One incident following his involvement in world war one sees him find out that an old German friend (against whom he once fought a duel) has been interned in "Hardwick Hall".

Living as I do around the corner from the real life Hardwick Hall I was intrigued - was this based on fact?  This was something that I hadn't really picked up on during my last viewing 20 years ago as I didn't know this corner of Derbyshire then.  This time though I needed to investigate.  In true armchair historian mode I launched my search on Google.  There was no mention of WW1 prisoners being held at Hardwick, but to my surprise the search brought up the information that they were held in nearby Bolsover Castle.  This is so surprising because I once spent a summer volunteering at the castle and was given lots of information about its history - and I never knew this.  It goes to show that our history of keeping enemy soldiers locked up has been kept rather quiet.  The WW2 Isle of Man internments have been much discussed, but the practice of using old country houses and castles as prisoner of war camps seems to have faded in our collective memory.  Were the prisoners treated as well as Colonel Blimp's friend?  Or do we have something to be ashamed of?  I'd like to know more - Colonel Blimp has opened a door.

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