Sutton's starring role in the BAFTA winning 1917

Two girls on a glass negative used in the film 1917

Published Monday, 3rd February 2020

The British war-time epic, 1917, has been nominated for many prestigious awards, winning seven at Sunday night's BAFTAs and has received acclaim from fans and critics alike... 

But did you spot Sutton's starring role in the Sam Mendes blockbuster?

Last summer, the DreamWorks art department working on the film approached Abby Matthews, Archive and Family History Centre Manager of Sutton Archives, asking for use of images from Sutton’s photographic archives, specifically the Knights-Whittome collection. This incredible trove of glass plate negatives, taken by Sutton High Street photographer David Knights-Wittome between 1904 - 1918, was conserved and digitised following two National Heritage Lottery Fund grants.

Upon viewing the film, we were delighted to see that not only had they been used, but they featured as the central protagonist Lance Corporal Will Schofield's family photos during the final scene against the oak tree! Viewers might also recall that throughout the film, Schofield checks that the photos remain in his possession, which adds to their significance. You can also make out footer: '18, High Street, Sutton Surrey' on the photos of the daughters. We also had a credit at the end of the film. 

Abby Matthews had this to say: “The digitisation of the Knights-Whittome glass plate collection represents over four years of hard work and passion from the LBS heritage team and volunteers. I am incredibly proud to see this effort rewarded by inclusion in this amazing movie. These photographs speak for themselves. They are a unique and a precious resource for anyone interested in World War One and local history.

Abby Matthews of Sutton Archives working on a photographic negative


“Sutton Archives has a wealth of other collections that can aid family and local history and we welcome enquiries and donations that can enrich our understanding of the borough’s rich past” she added. “Visit the Past on Glass website to find out more about what we have to offer."

The ‘Past on Glass’ exhibition, featuring pieces of the period, can be seen in Sutton Central Library from Tuesday 4 February. It's exciting to see Sutton Archives and Cultural Services connected to such a high profile film. It's been nominated for nine Oscars and a winner of ‘Best Picture’ at this year's Golden Globe awards and seven awards at the BAFTAs including ‘Best Film’.

We would certainly recommend seeing it!

Photograph of a Sutton woman used in the film 1917

A photograph of two young Sutton girls used in the film 1917