The Children of Green Knowe is a four part children’s drama which aired on the BBC in 1986. Based on the book of the same name by Lucy M. Boston, the story follows lonely schoolboy Tolly as he discovers more about his ancient family history and some of the legends surrounding the house they all lived in.
Set sometime in the early 20th Century, Toseland Oldknowe is sent to stay with his great-grandmother over the Christmas holidays from boarding school. Old Mrs Oldknowe is kind and lives in a rambling old manor house which Toseland – also known as Tolly – finds fascinating.
Tolly soon realises he is not the only child staying with his grandmother. Through several stories told around a roaring fire in the parlour, Tolly learns about Alexander, Tobey and little Linnet who lived during the reign of King Charles II.
This all results in some heart-warming if slightly spooky fun. This production is unrepentantly old fashioned, and its all the better for that. It’s full of atmosphere, from Tolly’s solitary train journey through mid-winter rain, to the unseen whisperers hiding amid the carved wooden bannisters of Green Knowe’s staircases. The nursery Tolly sleeps in is adorable – complete with creaky floorboards, doll’s house, and a magnificent rocking horse.
The costumes are decent too. I noticed several outfits being reused from ‘By the Sword Divided’ – another favourite of mine.
The first episode was aired in late November, taking us into mid December by the final episode. I remember it well as we were moving from my beloved childhood home a week before Christmas. Amongst the chaos and upheaval of moving, The Children of Green Knowe provided me with a safe haven to retreat to. This story is all my childhood fantasies rolled into one – the 17th Century, ghosts, cute Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, gorgeous costumes…to my mind the perfect Christmas story for all the family.
Have you seen The Children of Green Knowe? Or what's your favourite memory of classic children's Christmas TV and film?