The Exmoor Story of Hope Bourne

"How many people see the stars as I do? Not many in this modern world, I think. We have bartered our heritage for too many other things. Our small lives are hemmed about with fetters of our own making and our souls caught in a web of our own weaving. Who shall set us free? "

From 'Living on Exmoor' by Hope L Bourne 


In May 2014 a new film about the legendary Exmoor writer and artist Hope Bourne, by photographer and film-maker Chris Chapman, was premiered at the launch of the Simonsbath Festival on Exmoor. Hope Bourne spent some 24 years living in a tiny caravan in remote isolation in the ruins of a farm on Exmoor where she led a life of self-sufficiency, painting and sketching the moor, writing a column for the local paper, and combining this creativity in a number of remarkable books.
Chris Chapman first met Hope in 1991 when he was working as presenter and photographer on Exmoor for the six part HTV television series 'Secrets of the Moor'. His admiration and affection for Hope provide the foundations for a friendship which lasted nearly 20 years. After Hopes death in August 2010, Chris embarked on a journey of discovery, uncovering his friend's extraordinary life-story for his 50-minute documentary.

"Hope's was a story that needed to be told," says Chris Chapman. "But I couldn't have made this documentary without the support and co-operation of the people on Exmoor. They allowed me unfettered access to their personal memories of Hope and made me very welcome wherever I wished to film." Chris's sensitive and painstaking research enabled him to see beneath the layers of mythology and misinformation built around Hope's life, shedding new light on a story of an extraordinary woman who was both bold and courageous, and whose legacy on Exmoor is now greatly revered.

The soundtrack for the film is from Elgar's Violin Sonata performed by the gifted violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen, whose family has been deeply associated with Exmoor for generations. The recording is from her album entitled 1917, featuring works for violin and piano composed during that year by Elgar, Debussy, Respighi and Sibelius. The album, in which she is accompanied by pianist Huw Watkins, was released in April 2014 under the Signum label.

To date the film has proved very popular and has been booked for screening in venues across Devon and Somerset to a variety of audiences, including the Women's Institute, film clubs, parish halls, arts and literary festivals, fulfilling Skerryvore's community aspirations in revealing to new audiences the culture, history and character of the region.

Order a copy of the DVD - HERE

Hope Bourne, Lanacre Bridge, Exmoor
© Chris Chapman 1991