Role: Pauline Carpenter
Director: Chris Newby
Production: British feature film
Release: 1993

Toyah plays the role of Pauline Carpenter in Anchoress, a 1993 British drama film directed by Chris Newby. It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival.

The screenplay is partly based on accounts of an historical female anchorite, Christine Carpenter, who was walled into her anchorhold in a village church in Surrey, England, in 1329. The story revolves around the girl’s mystical visions of the Virgin Mary, the Priest who walls her into his village church, and his dislike of her mother, a midwife whom he regards as a witch.

The film is shot in black-and-white and visually resembles the works of Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer, especially The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928).

With a cast that includes Christopher Eccleston, Pete Postlethwaite and Toyah Willcox, Chris Newby’s (Madagascar Skin) poetic debut feature, Anchoress, is the visually arresting story of religious conflict set in the 14th century, in which a young girl’s transcendental vision threatens to upset the foundations of her community.

Inspired by the records of the real Anchoress of Shere, Christine Carpenter (who was voluntarily walled up in a tiny cell adjoining a church), Anchoress vividly evokes life of a remote Medieval village whilst also addressing the gulf between patriarchal power and female ritual and rebellion.

Toyah Willcox Anchoress