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The Stalls of Barchester (1971)

TV Movie  |   |  Horror  |  24 December 1971 (UK)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 171 users  
Reviews: 8 user | 6 critic

While cataloging the library of Barchester Cathedral, a scholar finds a diary detailing the events surrounding the mysterious death of an Archdeacon some 50 years earlier. The first of the BBC's famed 'A Ghost Story for Christmas'.

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(story) (as Montague Rhodes James)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Thelma Barlow ...
Letitia Hayes
Will Leighton ...
Librarian
Harold Bennett ...
Archdeacon Pulteney
Penny Service ...
Jane Lee
Martin Hoyle ...
Verger
Erik Chitty ...
Priest
David Pugh ...
John
Ambrose Coghill ...
Museum Curator
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Storyline

A scholar, Dr Black (Clive Swift), is engaged in cataloging the collection of the library of Barchester Cathedral. He is finding the work heavy going as there is little of any real interest within the collection and the librarian is proving less than helpful. However, the librarian and Dr Black discover a box of documents pertaining to a former Archdeacon of the Cathedral. Black begins reading the diary of Dr Haynes, an ambitious cleric who finds his promotion to the position of Archdeacon blocked by a geriatric incumbent who seems like he will never vacate the position. The impatient Haynes (Robert Hardy) seems to conspire to hasten the Archdeacon's death and is duly appointed Archdeacon. However, his diary reveals that once in post Haynes becomes increasingly disturbed as he is plagued by unnerving events both within the Cathedral and his own home. Written by Mark_a_Wood <markawood@hotmail.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

gothic horror | based on book | See All (2) »

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Horror

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Release Date:

24 December 1971 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Ghost Story for Christmas: The Stalls of Barchester  »

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Featured in MR James: Ghost Writer (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The most elegant TV production ever
18 November 2008 | by (Cambridge, England) – See all my reviews

I am an enormous fan of the BBC's Ghost Stories For Christmas but this is by far my favourite. It manages to pull off the seemingly impossible feet of being both very scary and also very amusing. Personally I love the antiquarian setting of this and most other M R James stories because it makes the following supernatural happenings all the more unexpected coming as they do into a world that deals with fact. The Stalls of Barchester has a wonderfully light touch as can be seen in how it illustrates the continued survival of the aged Archdeacon (much to his ambitious subordinate's chagrin) by the decreasing number of guests at his birthday drinks. The reason why this short film remains so scary is because right up until the last moment it's 'ghosts' come only in the form of noises and the odd movement out of the corner of the eye and have thus not aged at all. I cannot really do justice to the beauty of this programme's photography and production design and I urge everyone to see it and then write to the BBC and demand it's release on DVD.


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