Don’t forget to bring a flashlight with you when you go time traveling!

I wanted to travel back in time, today, so I hopped over to Enchanted Serenity of Period Films – they have lists of so many period films and dramas. I love clicking around over there!

Anyway, I arbitrarily picked the 2009 British film From Time to Time. Actually, not really arbitrarily. I wanted to watch it because it’s a time slip movie which Julian Fellowes adapted from a novel (The Chimmneys of Green Knowe) by Lucy M. Boston. As some of you may know, Julian Fellowes also wrote the Downton Abbey series, which is (insert wordless cry of enthusiasm!).

This cute film is set in two times: the present, 1944 as WWII is ending and the soldiers are returning home, and in the past, several generations ago during the Napoleonic Wars. It’s about a boy, Tolly, who’s sent to live with his granny at the ancestral manor, Green Knowe. Granny has not been able to keep the place in as good repair as she would like to. The manor is full of disused wings, and narrow twisty corridors, and cemented doorways and crumbling structures. You need to bring a flashlight with you to explore many of these nooks, and you can’t be afraid of a little dust and scuttling things. Forget about traveling to Hawaii, this is my dream adventure vacation!

Athelhampton House where the movie's filmed

The first night Tolly spends there, Granny tells him all about the people in the portraits that grace the walls of the old manor. I’m so jealous! I’ve always wanted to know more about my own family tree, but could never get past my great-grandmother on my father’s side who was adopted (it’s a secret wonder of mine to know where I get my good traits and my bad traits from and how the others handled theirs). When Tolly loses himself in the bowels of the manor, he sometimes thinks he hears echoes of voices from the previous inhabitants. The atmosphere reminds me so much of The Secret Garden, which I visit on a regular basis via my love-to-shreds copy (seriously, its binding is taped together but I refuse to buy a new one!). Then, one night, he’s woken up by an apparition of a girl. His granny seems to take everything in stride – she’s used to the visitations. One day, however, not only does Tolly see the children, he gets transported back in time to when the manor was teeming with activity. It could happen any time in a given day. One moment, Tolly’s following Mrs. Tweedle the housekeeper down a drafty corridor, the next moment he’s helping one of the children from the past hide inside a cupboard! Some of the people in the past can see him and interact with him, others can’t, which becomes very convenient for Tolly to help them resolve the big family issues of their day (and add a little modern technology to the past 😛 ). There is one big mystery that’s a particular challenge to solve…if he can solve the family mystery of the past, perhaps he can help granny with a few troubles in the present.

I love these time adventure stories – did you ever read Caroline B. Cooney’s Time Traveling series (with the Lockwood family)? Or Janet Lunn’s The Root Cellar?  Or watched the movie, Tom’s Midnight Garden? I’m glad to add this movie to all these other old favorites.

I got spooked (ghosts scare me, hands down), I griped the edges of my seat during exciting bits, I chuckled during the silly bits, I wept silently during the heart welling bits. This movie has made me want to read the actual novels by Lucy M Boston – where kids toast bread in big old fireplaces, and rummage about in the attics full of old stuff. Where I live, every house is less than 20 years old, there’s nothing but insulation in the attics as far as I know. It’s the standard suburban neighbourhood – seriously, almost every house looks the same, and is allotted the same amount of front garden and back garden with the same driveway. No old or haunted houses here (though I’ve tried to make up stories about a certain alleyway with a big lamppost in it). It’s a little tougher to imagine old secrets lurking around every corner, but I’ll keep trying! In the meantime, there’s plenty of opportunity to get sucked into a good story to make up for suburbia.

For those of you who’ve watched this movie, Sefton (played by Douglas Booth)  gives me a little bit of a Keira Knightley vibe…












Now I shall eagerly await the second season of Downton Abbey (coming out this November, I believe!).



  1. Charlotte – Oh, you’ve read the books and liked them! In that case, I should see if my library has any of them….children going on time travel romps pokes the nostalgic kid in me awake!

  2. Sold! I have to add this to my Netflix queue — I was hoping it would be on instant, because it sounds like the perfect movie for when you’re trapped inside on a hurricane day.

  3. Jenny – hmm, yes….here’s hoping you’re not in an old manor (like the one in the movie) during the storm!
    Melissa – It’s a fun little adventure. Made me feel really nostalgic!

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