Thaxted is heading to the big screen this month with a "playful tale of love, loss and betrayal".

This Blessed Plot, directed by Marc Isaacs and written by Adam Ganz, tells the story of young Chinese filmmaker Lori, who arrived in Thaxted and discovers that the dead surround the living - and the border between them is easily crossed.

Lori is introduced to the village church and becomes fascinated with the long-dead socialist vicar, Conrad Noel, who speaks to her from beyond the grave as borders break down between the past and present.

Saffron Walden Reporter: Lori and Keith in 'This Blessed Plot'Lori and Keith in 'This Blessed Plot' (Image: Porter Frith)

Noel became known as the 'Red Vicar' for hosting the Sinn Fein flag inside the church after the Easter Rising, and the red flag a year later following the Russian Revolution.

Filmed entirely on location in Thaxted, the film will be released in cinemas on Friday, January 26.

Director Marc Isaacs previously merged documentary and fiction for his film The Filmmaker's House in 2020, and employed the same techniques for This Blessed Plot - casting non-professional actors and working with a low budget.

He said: "This Blessed Plot is set in the Essex village of Thaxted where fiction and truth are wound tightly together like tree roots, so it’s impossible to tell where one starts and the other ends.

"I deploy Brechtian techniques of alienation and play with the idea of suspended disbelief.

"The story centres around Lori, a female Chinese filmmaker, visiting Thaxted to look for the subject of her next film.

"She encounters characters both dead and alive, each offering an insight into England’s past and present state.

Saffron Walden Reporter: Lori and UncleLori and Uncle (Image: Porter Frith)

"From the ghost of the early 20th century radical Christian socialist vicar Conrad Noel to Keith, a man haunted by betrayal and the sudden return into his life of his petty criminal friend known as “Uncle”; and Maggie, the church-going wife of a deceased Morris dancer."

This Blessed Plot was described by The New Statesman as "a strangely haunting pastoral comedy shot through with a lively sense of absurdity".

In the film, Lori's documentary is linked to the music of Gustav Holst, who lived in the town, and the slow and macabre folk dance of The Abbots Bromley, brought to Thaxted in Conrad Noel's time from its home in the Midlands.

The film also heavily features the Boulting Brothers' 1939 documentary Ripe Earth, which was filmed in Thaxted.


Marc added: "This Blessed Plot is my attempt to innovate by remaining outside conventional industrial film production structures. I work with people from some of my past documentary films and new characters encountered in Thaxted.

"The script draws on all kinds of elements which can be found in the picturesque Essex village of Thaxted where extraordinary stories from past and present co-exist.

"Here myths of England and Englishness play out in folk memory of the Peasants Revolt, William Blake and William Morris.

"But their dream of a time when things were good in England is also summoned by a darker and angrier force increasingly present in these last years."