Richard Todd at Shiplake

It is always interesting to hear from readers of this blog. David Denton sent these recollections to me :
"Dear Clement, just a small piece of trivia after reading that your a fan of the movie, 'The Story of Robin Hood!'
Well, I used to go to see Richard Todd when he had his farm at Shiplake, near my home town of Henley-on-Thames, before I moved to the village
of Mapledurham. He was a lovely man, and even me at my age of 15, I had a crush on him. Also on summer evenings, bumped into Robert Beatey, as I and friends used to walk along the tow-path by the river. Oh! Happy bygone days! And over the years I met Bill Owen, Michael Hordon, Anthony Steele, Diana Dors, Sabrina and many others, - but Richard was always my favourite.
I had 'The Story of Robin Hood' on VHS for years, but was so delighted when it came out on DVD.
So as I said at the beginning just a small bit of info."

Richard Todd c.1950

David contacted me again recently, with some more memories:
"It was a long time ago. But I can remember the first time that I cycled to see him, not knowing just quite where he lived. On the road to Shiplake from Mapledurham there is a hill before you desend down towards the village. It was my school summer holidays... and I came across an old man cutting the grass verges, so I decided to ask him if he knew where Richard lived, and knowing that he lived in a large white farmhouse, their was such a house in the distance, to the left of the I tentively said to him who lives in that big house on the hillside? And I can remember to this day all these years later.."Todd the Actor." And it was spoken in a country dialect, which now having acted myself, I can do it justice!!

Back in 2014, I published an article about Richard Todd's home at Pinkney's Green, Maidenhead. I had this comment from 'berrys5555':
"This was very interesting to read. I visited a house called Hailywood in Shiplake Oxfordshire many years ago that belonged to Richard Todd. It was attached to Haileywood farm which he also owned and farmed. The house was very large and I remember the drawing room, it had a small area which was raised like a small stages with a grand piano on it. It’s now owned by a well known musician and the estate has been broken up and some of the land has been built on."

Shiplake and Haileywood Farm

The large house had previously been owned by the famous concert pianist, Eileen Joyce (1908-1991). It seems Richard Todd purchased Haileywood from her in 1957. Below is an interesting Youtube clip of Richard Todd at Shiplake in about 1959.

Behind the Scenes at Denham Studios

Filming the final scene at Denham Studios of Robin Hood

Many of us have often wished to be at Denham Studios during the filming of The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men in 1951. Well - at least this incredibly detailed photograph (above), goes somewhere to fulfilling our wishes. It has been sent in by our regular contributor -Neil.

We can see Joan Rice (Maid Marian) hugging Robin Hood (Richard Todd) shortly after he has been made the Earl of Locksley by the returning King Richard the Lionheart. To see our picture strip of this scene, please click here.

Detail - showing Joan Rice, Richard Todd, James Hayter and Ken Annakin

Many of the production crew are visible in this remarkable image, including director Ken Annakin, standing alongside James Hayter (Friar Tuck). Also several of the 'outlaws', including Ewen Solon. Notice also, the huge Technicolor camera, which is possibly being operated by the director of photography, Guy Green.

Neil says:
"That is the Studio scene at Denham showing the filming towards the end  in Robin Hood’s Camp – but this is the original photograph and absolutely crystal clear  whereas we will both have seen this one in a smaller less clear version – I think from the Old Monrovians visit there at the time.

I think this scene would be filmed at the end of July 1951  - and I have a feeling that we would be on our holidays in St.Albans at  that time - so as a small boy with my parents and brothers, would have been passing the Denham Studios at that very moment

The other picture with Walt Disney, Richard Todd and Elton Hayes, we have seen before – but again this is a bigger clearer one.

I am so happy with these. Please use them on your site if you wish."

In the second picture that Neil has kindly sent, we can see Walt Disney on the Nottingham Castle set, during his visit to Denham Studios in June 1951. Alongside him is Elton Hayes (as the minstrel Allan-a-Dale) and Richard Todd (Robin Hood ‘disguised as a soldier of the Sheriff’). 

In his autobiography (Caught in the Act, Hutchinson 1986), Richard Todd describes the ‘solid’ dungeon walls as being constructed of pure wood and plaster.

Elton Hayes (Allan-a-Dale), Walt Disney and Richard Todd (Robin Hood)

Filming of Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men began on 30th April 1951. Ken Annakin, the director of the movie, in his autobiography (So You Wanna Be a Director, Tomahawk 2001) says that 10 weeks into shooting, Disney made a surprise visit to the set. Annakin describes how the great man had photos taken with the stars of the film in the Nottingham Square set on the lot. This also included ‘numerous’ pictures with Joan Rice (Maid Marian) on the archery field.

This fits with Richard Todd's (Robin Hood) memoirs where he describes Disney coming over from London to Denham near the end of June 1951 and how he was thoroughly pleased with the way things were going.

Coinciding with Walt’s stopover, the then Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) paid a visit to the Denham Studios, accompanied only by her lady-in-waiting and equerry. The future queen was shown by Walt Disney and the art director Carmen Dillon around the outside sets and the costume department. Perce Pearce, the producer of Walt Disney’s Robin Hood, insisted that filming should continue as normal as that is what the young princess wanted to see. So for about twenty minutes she stood quietly in a dark corner, while production carried on, then gave a friendly wave and slipped out of the stage. I wonder what scene it was she saw being filmed?

To read more about the production of the film, Walt Disney, or see the picture gallery please click on the labels in the side bar.

A huge thank you to Neil for sending these images.