One of my favourite books is The Children of Green Knowe, and one of the most magical adaptations I’ve seen was the BBC’s not often seen 1986 series. Four years ago emej and I were fortunate enough to visit the actual Green Knowe, aka. The Manor of Hemingford Grey. One of my Christmas presents this year was the dvd of the Julian Fellowes film, From Time To Time – and adaptation of the second book in the series, The Chimneys of Green Knowe.
It’s beautifully made, and filmed, and the interior shots of Athelhampton House (the Dorset house that stands in for Green Knowe in this version) are a fitting tribute to the real manor house that we have visited. The main Chimneys of Green Knowe story of Susan, Jacob and Sefton is faithful enough too. What I did find jarring is the relationship that Tolly has with his Grannie and his backstory in this adaptation.
I can see why they have changed it. For some reason they have leapt straight into the second book on this occasion and so Tolly (Toseland) loses everything he found out on his previous visit to the house. We see him ask about if Grannie believes in ghosts, or climbs the big, old oak tree without deference to Old Green Knowe, wonders about the St Christopher, or asks Boggis if there has always been a Boggis working here, when really he knows all these answers already. He knows about Alexander, Toby and Linnet (I still love the name Linet for a girl if we were ever to have a girl…), and he knows that Grannie has grown up with the ghosts of the house as much as he now is. Knowing all of this happened in the first book, and that it has Tolly recently in the second book, made it jarring for me in this film that all of that had changed.
All in all, a good film, well told, but an odd choice to have filmed the second book in preference to the first.