History enthusiasts can be among the first to see a Staffordshire-made WWI documentary at Sandon Hall this March.
Sandon Hall will exclusively host the first showing of a new World War I (WWI) documentary on Saturday, 24th March 2018, before it airs on the Yesterday channel in April.
Produced by Stafford-based ASA Productions the film focuses on the bitter struggle for air superiority by France and Britain against Germany on the Western Front. Filming took place at locations across the county – including Sandon Hall.
Viewers will hear the stories of the British airmen from exclusive access to their actual memoirs, diaries and letters and explore the brave new world of dogfights, aerial reconnaissance and bombing missions through the eyes of the men in the air and those fighting in the trenches below.
The two-part drama reconstructed documentary examines the parts both France, and Britain played over the Trenches and the remarkable contribution they played in helping the artillery win the battle. These stories intertwine with those from the early British aviation units who joined them. The film also looks at the experimental tactics of aerial warfare in its infancy – including firing handguns and rifles before the use of machine guns that could fire through the propeller.
The showing is especially poignant given the fact that 2018 marks the centenary of the end of WWI and Sandon’s links to the conflict. The 6th Earl of Harrowby, known as Viscount Sandon, was a Territorial Officer in the Royal Field Artillery and served through WWI, during which he was wounded, rising to Major. The mounted head of the horse he rode during his time in the war – Christ Church – is proudly displayed at Sandon amongst its many other WWI treasures and memorabilia.
The Hall’s WWI history and stately setting made it an ideal location for the film’s British and French command HQ, as the film’s Producer, Stephen Saunders, explains:
“We needed a location that brings to mind the French Chateaux on the western front – which were extensively used by the military for this purpose. The fact that Sandon was local to the production company’s own HQ and close for local crew and staff to travel to was a real bonus. It turned out to be a truly pleasurable location to film at. Not only were the staff very helpful in letting us have full access to all areas for filming, costumes and make-up, they supplied us with tea and cake in the afternoon break.
“Showing the film at Sandon Hall will mean a great deal to me because of its significance during WW1, and to obtain a sense of how the audience reacts to the events on the screen. This is important to a film producer, making sure we got it right, that they understand the feelings of the period we are portraying.”
Other local filming locations for War Above the Trenches included a field near Chartley Manor where a replica trench and No Man’s Land were constructed and the Great War Hut at Brindley Heath on Cannock Chase, originally part of one of the two WWI training camps located on the chase.
The exclusive first showing will take place on Saturday 24th March from 6 pm. Attendees of the ticket-only event will enjoy an arrival drink and afternoon tea-style canapés, live entertainment and the chance to mingle with cast and crew members, many of whom will be appearing in character in full costume, before being among the first to see the Staffordshire-made film.