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The Stalls of Barchester (1971)

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 "The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral") (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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Did You Know?

Trivia

The outside location shots were of Norwich Anglican Cathedral, with particular reference to the cloisters. See more »

Connections

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

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User Reviews

 
I must be firm
3 January 2016 | by (The Undertow) – See all my reviews

A cleric goes a step too far to satisfy his career ambitions and finds himself the target of a ghostly revenge.

The story is framed by a scholarly investigation after the event, which some reviewers feel detracts from the immediacy of the story, and I think the problem is that the narrator has no connection with the plot. Otherwise the story is well told, with the protagonist forbiddingly aloof and the spookiness delivered subtly in shadowy sets with intimate little sound effects. Also a nice strand of humour runs through the early scenes, as the dogged old archdeacon clings to his position.

One flaw in the story is the loose end of the collaborator in the fatal deed - once the blackmail note was produced it had to become part of the plot, but was just left dangling.


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