John Ford on Dartmoor

A research and performance project on the life of Dartmoor-born playwright John Ford was carried out by young people under the mentorship of MED Theatre during 2011-12, supported by a grant from Heritage Lottery Fund Young Roots.

heritage lottery fund lottery funded


Wild Nights Young Company’s visit to Ilsington Church

On the 30th June 2011 we went to Ilsington. We went to the church there. We saw Thomas Ford’s tomb, John Ford’s brother. On the tomb there was a chronogram. In the writing there were Roman numerals like V and X which when put together made the date of Thomas Ford’s death. This was on the tomb because John Ford liked puzzles. Possibly John Elford may have done the stone masonry for the tomb  because John Elford’s wife’s monument in neighbouring Widecombe Church also has a similar chronogram and John Elford did stone carvings.

We also saw a plaque for Jane Ford to recognise her dedication to teaching children in the school room by Ilsington Church. Ilsington was the place where John Ford and his family grew up. 

Rachel Caverhill

john ford dartmoor project

Making the short film which began the play, set in John Elford's cave on Sheepstor

We made a film that was set in a cave on Dartmoor. That cave was the cave that John Elford hid in when he was hiding from Cromwell’s troops. The way you had to enter it, you had to lie on your back and pull yourself in. It made you feel very claustrophobic. Inside the cave it was very damp and dark. You needed a torch to see. In the corner of the cave was a tiny seat that you could just fit one person on. In the cave it was thought that John Elford painted pictures on the walls. I wonder what he did in there for two weeks?…

Laura Stewart Watson

Extracts from Wild Nights Young Company play John Ford's Story, performed at Buckland Abbey September 2011:

1. The Court Scene

2. Love's Sacrifice Dance Acting

3. The End of Writing Love's Sacrifice

4. The Film That Began the Play