In the delightful series PENELOPE KEITH’S HIDDEN VILLAGES I & II, British actress Dame Penelope Keith (The Good Life, To the Manor Born) leads viewers on a tour of Britain's most charming villages to discover what makes each one unique. Armed with her vintage "Batsford" travel books, Keith explores village histories, investigates how village communities have changed over time, and seeks out the quirky local traditions that continue to this day.
Penelope concludes her first trip with visits to Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire, where she sees villages that have been used on film and TV. These include the community where To the Manor Born was filmed, and the setting of Steven Spielberg's War Horse, Castle Combe, where she also discovers a motor racing circuit.
Devon and Cornwall
In this episode, Penelope is in Devon and Cornwall. A land of rugged coastal communities and distinct identities forged over centuries, this is a region visited by five million people each year. She finds that many ancient traditions are being kept alive as she travels to a former silver mining village, a cliff-edge fishing village, the most exposed theatre in the country, and the small communities near Fowey Harbour.
The actress learns about life in the renowned landscape of Cumbria. The wonder of the Lake District cannot be ignored, but from Morecambe Bay to the Pennines, Penelope finds there is much more to life in a Cumbrian village than tourists and tea shops -- all of it owing to the dramatic local geography. Along the way she meets a community buying its local mountain, indulges in the unique Cumbrian pursuit of hound trailing and visits the home of Sticky Toffee Pudding.
Penelope travels through Royal Deeside, a remote part of Aberdeenshire. It's a land of enormous estates served by tiny communities. Penelope visits the few villages that exist and explores how important Queen Victoria was in shaping modern Deeside. She takes to the skies in a glider, visits the station built for Queen Victoria in the 1860s, goes to the Highland Games arena for the first time since the 1950s and discovers the secrets of the present Queen's vegetable patch at Balmoral.
East Sussex and Kent
In this episode, Penelope is in East Sussex and Kent – a rural, unspoiled swath of the busy southeast that never ceases to surprise and impress. She finds a remarkable hidden village that hasn't changed in almost a century, discovers the origins of the English Country Garden and sees a war memorial which was helped to be established by Rudyard Kipling. Steam power whisks Penelope to the prettiest villages in Kent where she uncovers why so many of them take pride in their beautiful signs. She also visits a village that stopped a naval embarrassment turning into a national disaster and ultimately uncovers the unexpected origins of that seaside village institution – the bungalow.
Penelope journeys to East Anglia. While there, she attends a regatta on the Norfolk Broads, takes to the skies over the village of Little Snoring, learns to speak like a native of the county and attends a fete – complete with a performance by wheelbarrow display team, the Red Sparrows.