Clifton Parker (1905 -1989)

Clifton Parker was regarded by film makers and music fans as "the composer who never disappoints." He certainly didn’t disappoint when he composed the wonderful film score for Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood in 1951. Parker received very little recognition for his film scores in his own lifetime, but during his distinguished career, he composed for 50 feature films, as well as numerous documentary shorts, radio and television scores and over 100 songs and music for ballet and theatre. Sadly today, many of his compositions are lost.

Edward John Clifton Parker was born in Forest Hill in London on the 5th February 1905, the third and youngest son of bank officer Theophilis Parker. He was encouraged by his father to go into the commercial profession like his two brothers - which he did, but he also studied music privately. In 1926 he obtained a diploma for music teaching from the Royal College of Music and eventually he left commerce and became employed as a music copyist, whist also writing works for the BBC. His first mature piece, ‘Romance for Violin and Piano’, was good enough to secure publication when he was only sixteen years old.

At the age of 31 he was appointed organist and arranger with the Folkestone Municipal Orchestra, during which time he had begun composing light popular items. A year later he became pianist and composer at the Jooss-Leeder School of Dance. It was there that he met Yoma Sasburgh, the dancer who would become his second wife. It was for her that he wrote the overture- The Glass Slipper.

As more of his ‘part-time’ classical compositions became published, it attracted the attention of British film pioneer and film conductor Muir Mathieson. Soon, although initially uncredited, he began composing for films like Battle Is Our Business, Unpublished Story, and In Which We Serve (1942).

In 1944 his name appeared as the composer for the government-sponsored colour documentary Western Approaches, which later included a 4 minute orchestral piece ‘Seascape,’ recorded by Muir Mathieson on Decca 12’’ 78 rpm. This became very popular in concert halls and today it is regarded by many as one of the finest scores ever written for the cinema. Parker was paid £100 for his composition. Because of his swirling and surging orchestrations, he became first choice composer for any British producer that was making a movie involving the sea.

After his work on the successful post-war film 'The Blue Lagoon' (1949) and the huge sales of the film’s soundtrack on 78rpm records, he caught the attention of Walt Disney. Parker was invited to score for the legendary cartoon producer’s live-action British productions Treasure Island (1950), The Story of Robin Hood (1952) and The Sword and the Rose (1953), for which he also supplied on-scene music for the court dance in the style of the Tudor period.

Parker’s lively symphonic style went on to become greatly admired, leading to him composing scores for 50 feature films over a 21 year period including: This Happy Breed (1944), The Wooden Horse (1950), The Gift Horse (1950), A Day To Remember (1953), Night of the Demon (1957) Campbell’s Kingdom (1957), The 39 Steps (1959) Sink The Bismark (1960) and HMS Defiant (1962).

In 1963 Parker controversially quit scoring for film production and joined a protest along with three other movie composers against the exorbitant percentage of royalties being claimed by the music publishers. He limited his work to the theatre, including RADA and many Shakespearean productions, but gradually his health began to decline. In the last 13 years of his life, Parker was immobile due to ulcers and emphysema and sadly passed away in Marlow, Buckinghamshire in 1989 aged 85.

Meet a Singing Wren

I have recently introduced Hern’s Son, alias Mike who is a founder member of our loyal blog group known as The Whistling Arrows. It is now time to meet another of my regular visitors to the site, Adele Treskillard.

Adele is a multi talented young lady who first visited my site way back in October 2008. She was interested by the Sloane ‘Life of Robin Hood’, as she is intensely researching the legend through the perspective of the ancient ballads.

After corresponding with her a couple of times I discovered her website at which under the title ‘Greenwood Shadows’ and ‘Robin Hood’s Audacity’ puts forward her refreshingly new theories of how the legend evolved.

This is all the more interesting when you consider that Adele is a ‘sean-nos’ style singer specializing in Scottish, Irish, and Welsh songs in both the native languages (Scots, Scots Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, and Welsh) as well as English. Along with her brother and sister, she has formed a band known as Wren’s Song that focuses on traditional Celtic ballads and songs. Adele plays a 24 string Harp which uses bronze-phosphor strings in the Irish/Scottish Clarsach style.

But this is not all; Adele is currently taking her B.A. in Archaeology through the University of Leicester and began writing her first novel ‘Wolf’s Bard’ in 2005!

Amongst her birthday presents in June this year, Adele received a copy of Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood. She was so impressed by the movie, not only did she complete the questionnaire to join The Whistling Arrows, but she posted an article on her web site, describing it as a ‘nearly perfect film.’ Her father also contacted this site at the time, to say that the whole family had enjoyed the movie.

So the magic and quality of the film continues to spread.

Wren’s Song will be appearing at the St. Louis Festival of Nations on Saturday, August 29th, 2009. Their performance will also include a ‘Robin Hood Play’ involving a quarter staff fight! So on behalf of all of The Whistling Arrows, I would like to wish Adele and her brother and sister the very best of luck!

Adele’s Blog can be found here: or in the side bar of this site under “My Blog List.”

If you are a regular visitor to this site - are interested in the legend of Robin Hood and enjoyed Disney’s Story of Robin Hood please get in touch. If you click on the Label marked The Whistling Arrows you will be able to see the questions you will need to answer to join the merry band. If you answer them correctly you will receive a very rare picture of Joan Rice (Maid Marian) at the World Premier in London.

Lionheart Airways?

A few years ago I read of a ‘Blooper’ in Disney’s Story of Robin Hood (1952). The article stated that you could see an aeroplane in one of the outdoor scenes; at the time I thought that this could not be possible and ignored this churlish statement-the film was perfect in every way!

But no! Mike (Hern’s Son) kindly sent me an excellent copy of the movie and described for me the scene in which it occurs. How did I miss it-I must have watched the film hundreds of times?

The scene is in Nottingham Market Place, the Sheriff (Peter Finch) has just addressed the town’s folk with, "Let this be a warning to evil doers that would flaunt our Midland Laws! Begin!”
As the camera switches to Will Stutely, who is sewn up in the skin of the deer, hanging above a brazier, an aeroplane can be seen in the top right hand corner of the screen (circled above in red), flying off into the distance!

How did that blooper get past such a legendry group of film makers?

Or was it King Richard flying off for the Holy Land?

Have you seen any more bloopers in this movie? If so please get in touch.

The Annual 'Robin Hood Festival' in Sherwood Forest

The week long Robin Hood Festival, held at the Sherwood Forest Visitors Centre near Edwinstowe is a wonderful experience for young and old alike and attracts more than 50,000 visitors every year. This year was its 25th Anniversary and it ran from the 3rd to the 9th August; the 2010 festival is provisionally expected to take place from August 2nd until August 8th.

In 1997 I took my family to this annual event and we had a fantastic day out. With the legendary Sherwood Forest as a backdrop we witnessed, the archery, juggling, jousting, falconry, puppetry and the story-telling by Allan-a Dale. The open air theatre is not to be missed neither is the medieval craft stalls; seeing those craftsmen is just like stepping back in time.

During our day-out, my young son was quite excited to see an ice cream van near the Visitor Centre, so he took to his heels to join the queue. Unfortunately he slipped on the gravel and cut his knee. A young girl in medieval costume, waiting there, picked him up and comforted him. Seeing his cut knee she asked our permission to take him to Robin Hood’s camp, clean his knee and apply some medieval ointment. We said that was fine, so we followed her through the forest to Robin’s camp where she sat him in Robin’s chair and applied some first-aid from the Middle-Ages. His tears very quickly dried up and his little face was a picture. This was a day he would never forget!

At the festival, children are always keen to collect the autographs of all the characters, especially Robin and the Sheriff, but for my son, pride-of-place went to the signature of the maiden who had come to his rescue-even though as it turned out, she was the daughter of the Sheriff of Nottingham!!!

So a very special thank you to that particular young lady, whom I believe was from the re-enactment group Legends.

If you would like to see more pictures from the annual Robin Hood Festival, I thoroughly recommend Charlotte White’s website at Not only are there some superb pictures from all the recent festivals, also the yearly Robin Hood Pageant held at Nottingham Castle. While on her site at be sure to also check out her pages on the Robin Hood films and television programmes and have a go at her excellent Silver Arrow Competition.

If you click on the label Sherwood Forest below, there is a lot more information on the history of this legendary woodland.

Burnham Beeches - Disney's 'Sherwood Forest'

Above is a map of the beautiful Burnham Beeches. I have marked in red the areas that were used by Walt Disney’s film crew during the making of the Story of Robin Hood in 1951. Outlined is Mendelssohn’s Slope, where many scenes were filmed, including the death of Robin’s father. Also Middle Pond, where Robin (Richard Todd) and Marian (Joan Rice) took their romantic evening stroll, accompanied by Friar Tuck (James Hayter) and Allan a Dale (Elton Hayes) singing ‘Whistle My Love.’
Burnham Beeches was the location chosen to be ‘Sherwood Forest,’ not only because of its close proximity to Denham Studios (12 miles approx.), where two of the huge sound stages were used, but also because of its amazing ancient woodland that was ideal as a backdrop to this classic tale. I have noticed a number of film web sites state that Disney’s live-action movie was the only Robin Hood tale to be filmed in Sherwood Forest. This in incorrect, but shows what a good choice Burnham Beeches was.
My wife and I visited Burnham in April and were stunned by the breathtaking scenery, it is no wonder film and television crews have been queuing up to shoot scenes in various areas of the forest since 1946. I thoroughly recommend a visit, particularly to our band of Whistling Arrows. So if you do make the trip, please send in some photos from your visit and I will be pleased to post them on this site.

Denham and Pinewood Letter Heading

Neil has posted to me, yet another fascinating item from his collection. Above is an original letter heading from the legendary Denham Studios in Uxbridge, Middlesex. It was at that massive film complex in 1951 that Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood was filmed-the last major feature to be produced there.

It was originally built by the Hungarian impresario, Alexander Korda (1893-1956) and some of Britain’s most memorable films were produced there. But sadly its size was its eventual downfall and after the infamous film companies crash of 1937 Prudential stepped in and offered Denham Studios as a going concern to Charles Boot and J. Arthur Rank. Korda’s control of his ‘dream factory’ was effectively taken off his hands as Denham merged with Pinewood.
I am not sure of the approximate date of Neil’s letter heading, but as you can see Denham Studios was by then already linked with Pinewood.

In 1977 the site of Denham Studios was sold to a developer and demolished by British Land for construction of an industrial park.
If you click on the label Denham Studios you can read much more about the making of Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood at Denham and the glorious history of Korda’s ‘dream factory.’

Joan Rice: From Lyons 'Nippy' to Film Star

Over the last few years, I have been researching the life of the British actress Joan Rice (1930-1997). Derby born Joan was brought up in a Nottingham convent and worked for a while as a ‘Nippy’ waitress at the Lyons Corner House in the Strand, London. After winning a ‘Miss Lyons’ beauty contest in 1949 she was plucked from obscurity and eventually became Walt Disney’s personal choice for the role of Maid Marian in his English Technicolor masterpiece, The Story of Robin Hood (1952). Joan went on to prove Walt Disney correct in his choice and portrayed, what is agreed by many critics, the best Maid Marian of all time.
The information and pictures from her life that I have pieced together and posted on here, have gradually found their way on various websites around the world, which is quite gratifying. Perhaps now she will get some of the credit she deserves. But, there still remain some details about her life that I would like to uncover. So recently I contacted the Lyons website at to see if they had any records of Joan’s employment as a Nippy waitress. This was the informative email I received:

“Hello Clement,
I regret to say that we do not have any records of employment of former employees. The website you have viewed is privately funded and receives no sponsorship whatsoever.

However, I can confirm that Joan Rice was a former waitress (Nippy) employed at the Strand Corner House. She was Miss Lyons in 1949 the selection judges being John McCallum and Ann Crawford as well as Isidore Gluckstein (President of the Company) and W.I. Brown (Company Director). The judging was view by the Norwegian Beauty Queen, Lillemor Helver the 'Princess of Oslo'.
The 24 finalists wore different coloured swimsuits and then changed to identical white Jantsen costumes for the final judging at the Company's outdoor swimming pool at their sports ground at Sudbury. The two runners up were Terry Beare from the Richmond Teashop and Beatrice Morgan of the Catering Office.

Joan Rice learned to act in a convent school, where the nuns produced half-a-dozen plays each year.

Joan was put under contract in 1950 and her agents secured a role for her in Blackmailed followed by the screen version of the farce, One Wild Oat. She also starred in, Robin Hood, Gift Horse, His Majesty's O'Keefe, The Steel Key, A Day to Remember, The Crowded Day, One Good Turn, Police Dog, Women Without Men, The Long Knife, Operation Bullshine, Payroll and The Horror of Frankenstein. I hope this is of some help."
Peter Bird

I would like to thank Peter for sending me this fascinating information and recommend a visit to his Lyons website at
To read more about Joan, please click on the label marked Joan Rice.