Film ID:
YFA 5782



Visitor Tabs


This is a documentary made by Yorkshire Television, part of the Northern Line series, about the Camphill community in the village of Botton, in the North York Moors.  The village is unique in its catering for people with learning difficulties.  The programme presents the history and philosophy of the community, based on the principles of Rudolf Steiner, and shows the work and activities of those with learning difficulties and the co-workers, with interviews from both groups.

The film begins with a view over the North York Moors before finally coming to rest on the village of Botton, home to the first Camphill centre.  The centre was created by a group of refugees from Nazi oppression in Austria to offer opportunities to adults with learning disabilities and other special needs.  A history of the community is given, now celebrating 30 years since its foundation.  The village has 400 residents, occupying 400 acres with four farms.  The work and activities of the village are shown, including farming, weaving, carpentry, glass cutting, milling, and baking.  The products resulting from these processes are sold commercially.  There is also a post office in the village.  

It is stated that there is a mixed age range within the village all supporting each other, with no hierarchy.  Two-thirds of the inhabitants are “mentally handicapped” (have learning difficulties), while the rest are co-workers who share the accommodation, in houses, and receive no wages.   The villagers meet in the morning in the village café to discuss the previous day and the day ahead.

One of the villagers with learning disabilities, Amanda, tells of her experience of living there, while one of the co-workers, a former ICI executive, John Durham, explains why he decided to join the community.  Another villager, Marylyn, described as “mentally deficient”, talks about her experience and learning glass blowing.  Others are shown making soft toys.  

The commentary takes up the criticism that the work may be exploitative by stating that it provides an opportunity for real work which is satisfying.  One villager of 20 years, Michael, born with spina bifida, states that he is happy with what he is doing, and that he enjoys giving.  It is stated that 120 dolls have been produced for the business side of the Trust. The commentary give an account of the principles behind the community, stressing dignity through work, and encouraging all to be able to look him or herself.

The film moves on to the carpentry workshop, stating that the goods made are sold on their merit, and that the work focuses on the strengths of each individual.  It is explained that Amanda was knocked down by a bus, leaving her severely crippled.  She has learned to walk and talk again, but she complains about being cut off from the outside world, having to walk six miles to go to the pub.  She wanted to be a model and an Olympic swimmer.  It is stated that she is a person with a handicap, not a handicapped person.  John Durham talks about the need for Amanda to manage her expectations.  

A group seated at the table at one of the 25 houses, says a prayer before their meal.  It is stated that all the work done is for the good of the community. Any money is spent according to the wishes of all the residents.  There are few arguments, and the co-workers usually take the lead.  It is also stated that the village is not quite self-sufficient, and we see a new therapy unit near completion.  On the farm people are stacking hay, with one villager, Stephen, feeding the pigs.  Milk from the cows supplies a commercial cheese making operation.  Then on to the bakery where John, Huw, and Rosy are baking bread for local shops.  Money is obtained from the central government, local authorities, donations and appeals.  

The commentary takes up the criticism that the village only accepts those from wealthy families, stating that this is not true.  In a drama session, Philip Kerwin is directing Joan of Arc.  In another class villagers are doing movements of the body to sounds, euphony.  Then the issue of marriage within the village is discussed by the narrator, stating that there is no difference with the outside world in this regard, and that equal standards apply.  The narration states that the philosophy is one where each individual is fully and equally recognised, and the community is more integrated and less materialistic than the outside world.  As the credits roll several of the villagers with learning disabilities make a positive statement about living in the village.

Narrator – Marylin Webb
Production Assistant – Tricia Robertshaw, Sandie Butler
Graphics – Jim Shade
Film Cameraman – Alan Wilson
Sound – David Pape
Film Editor – Paul Trevor Bale
Dubbing Mixer – Steve Haynes
Series Editor – Grant McKee
Producer – David Wiggins
Director – David Crozier 
Editor – David Lowen
Yorkshire Television Ltd 1985