Wessex On Screen: The Mother of Dartmoor

 The Mother of Dartmoor is a 1916 British silent drama film directed by George Loane Tucker., based on the novel The Mother by Eden Philpotts. It’s also a very difficult film to write about, at’s not clear whether any copies even survive more than a century later. Wikipedia, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), abd Letterboxd only have scant details about it, and it is not available to view on YouTube or any streaming service. In desperation, I asked ChatGPT to write a blog post about it. Now, ChatGPT is notorious for simply making things up when it doesn’t know the answer to a question, so I can’t guarantee that any of what follows is accurate. But here’s what it came up with:

In the rugged and hauntingly beautiful landscape of Dartmoor, a gripping tale unfolds. The heart of the story revolves around a mother’s love, loyalty, and the painful choices she must make.

Avesa Pomeroy, portrayed by the talented Elisabeth Risdon, finds herself in an agonizing predicament. Her son, Ives Pomeroy (played by Bertram Burleigh), is ensnared in a forbidden love affair with a married woman. Driven by passion, he turns to poaching, risking everything for the sake of this illicit romance.

But fate takes a cruel turn. Avesa, torn between her maternal instincts and the law, testifies against her own flesh and blood. Ives is sentenced to prison, and the weight of her decision hangs heavily upon her.

As the silent film unfolds, we witness the emotional turmoil, the stark beauty of Dartmoor, and the moral complexities that bind these characters. The haunting silence of the moors mirrors the unspoken grief and sacrifice that permeate the narrative.


  • Elisabeth Risdon as Avesa Pomeroy: Her portrayal of a conflicted mother torn between love and duty is both poignant and powerful.
  • Bertram Burleigh as Ives Pomeroy: His performance captures the desperation of a man trapped by desire and circumstance.
  • Enid Bell as Jill Wicket: The enigmatic woman who ignites Ives’ passion.
  • George Bellamy as Matthew Northmore: The stern figure of justice who presides over the trial.
  • Sydney Fairbrother as Mrs. Bolt: A secondary character whose presence adds depth to the story.
  • Frank Stanmore as Sammy Bolt: A fellow poacher entangled in the web of secrets.
  • Hubert Willis as Moleskin: A mysterious figure lurking in the shadows.

The Mother of Dartmoor resonates beyond its silent frames. It explores themes of sacrifice, love, and the inexorable ties that bind families. The haunting landscapes of Dartmoor serve as a metaphor for the human soul—wild, untamed, and often unfathomable.

Though silent, this film speaks volumes about the human condition. It reminds us that our choices ripple through generations, leaving indelible marks on those we love.

As we revisit this cinematic relic, let us honor the silent era—a time when storytelling transcended words. The Mother of Dartmoor invites us to reflect on our own allegiances, the sacrifices we make, and the echoes of our decisions across time.

So, dear reader, step into the mist-shrouded moors, listen to the silent whispers of the past, and immerse yourself in the haunting beauty of this forgotten gem.

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