Life inside historic lodge inspires Bishopston filmmaker

August 06 2013
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The hidden Tudor splendour of a historic Bristol building is the inspiration behind a new film created by a Bishopston resident.

The hidden Tudor splendour of a historic Bristol building is the inspiration behind a new film created by a Bishopston resident.

Actress and journalist Theresa Roche said she was left with “burning questions” about the past occupants of the 16th-century Red Lodge, in Park Row, after paying a visit to what is now a museum.

Theresa’s research uncovered a host of interesting characters connected to the house between the 1580s and the 1920s, who she has brought back to life in a documentary.

The Red Lodge, Bristol’s Hidden Gem premiered at the Orpheus Cinema in Henleaze in June and is now available online.

Theresa, a history graduate, said: “I’d often walked past the bleak-looking walls of The Red Lodge vaguely thinking that I ought to pop in there one day, though suspecting the interior would be a bit like an enormous cowshed. 

“Of course when I did finally visit I discovered jaw-dropping Tudor splendour, for the lodge is one of the last surviving luxury domestic interiors in South
West England showcasing wooden-panelled walls in The Great Oak Room, ornate plasterwork on the ceiling and a magnificently carved stone fireplace.” The Red Lodge: Bristol's Hidden Gem

The 25-minute documentary, produced by Theresa’s independent film company Galliard Films, features 12 actors who recreate scenes from the building’s history, from the knighting of diplomat John Young by Queen Elizabeth I before he built the lodge, then following his wild son and heir Robert Young to wealthy merchant Derek Popley, whose business dealings landed him in jail.

The film covers the lodge’s various incarnations as family home, elegant boarding school for ladies and as a reform school for young offenders. 

Theresa added: “My subsequent research uncovered the fact that, rather like the building itself, some of these historical occupiers were themselves “hidden gems” because some of them were major players in politics, medicine and social reform. I became determined to make a film specifically about them and so give contemporary Bristolians a glimpse of these fascinating citizens.”

Theresa said Carnival Costumes in Redland and make-up artist Claudia Spoto, also of Redland, were instrumental in dressing the cast, while Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery staff provided invaluable help and curator Karin Walton is the featured expert in the film.

Theresa, who is working on another local history film, added: “I do hope it will tweak the interest of both visitors to Bristol and also of local families who want a quick trip out to somewhere fascinating during the school holidays and, after all, entry to the lodge is free.”

The Red Lodge, Bristol’s Hidden Gem can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbPZYYx_8iw&feature=share

  • The Red Lodge Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays, 10.30am to 4pm, during August. Visit Bristol City Council’s Museums and Galleries webpage at www.bristol.gov.uk for more details.