Roundhay Garden Scene

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Roundhay Garden Scene
Directed byLouis Le Prince
Produced byLouis Le Prince
  • Annie Hartley
  • Adolphe Le Prince
  • Joseph Whitley
  • Sarah Whitley
CinematographyLouis Le Prince
Edited byLouis Le Prince
Release date
14 October 1888; 131 years ago (1888-10-14)
Running time
2.11 seconds
CountryUnited Kingdom

Roundhay Garden Scene is an 1888 short silent actuality film recorded by French inventor Louis Le Prince. Filmed at Oakwood Grange in Roundhay, Leeds, in the north of England. The footage is believed to be the oldest surviving film in existence.[1]


According to Le Prince's son, Adolphe, the film was made at Oakwood Grange, the home of Joseph and Sarah Whitley, in Roundhay, Leeds, West Riding of Yorkshire, England on 14 October 1888.[2] The footage features Louis's son Adolphe Le Prince, his mother-in-law Sarah Whitley (née Robinson, 1816 – 24 October 1888), his father-in-law Joseph Whitley (1817 – 12 January 1891) and Annie Hartley in the garden of Oakwood Grange, leisurely walking around the garden of the premises. Sarah is seen walking – or dancing – backwards as she turns around, and Joseph's coat tails are seen flying as he also is turning. Joseph and Sarah Whitley were the parents of Le Prince's wife, Elizabeth. Annie Hartley is believed to be a friend of Le Prince and his wife. Sarah Whitley died ten days after the scene was filmed.[3]

Mysterious aftermath[edit]

Only ten days after filming, Sarah Whitley died at the age of 72. Louis Le Prince mysteriously vanished just before unveiling his new technology to the public.[4] Louis's son, Adolphe Le Prince, was discovered shot dead around two years after he testified about his father's inventions in court against Thomas Edison.[5]

Remastered footage[edit]

The original sequence was recorded on Eastman Kodak paper base photographic film using Louis Le Prince's single-lens camera. In 1930, the National Science Museum (NSM) in London produced photographic copies of surviving parts from the sequence and these were later mastered to 35mm film. Adolphe Le Prince stated that the Roundhay Garden sequence was shot at 12 fps (frames per second) and a second film, Traffic Crossing Leeds Bridge, at 20 fps; however, this is not borne out by analysis of the sequences, which suggests a frame rate of 7 fps for both, which was the speed of reproduction used in the 2015 documentary about Le Prince, The First Film.


  1. ^ Smith, Ian (10 January 2016). ""Roundhay Garden Scene" recorded in 1888, is believed to be the oldest surviving film in existence". The Vintage News. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  2. ^ Youngs, Ian (23 June 2015). "Louis Le Prince, who shot the world's first film in Leeds". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  3. ^ "Monumental Inscriptions at St. John's Church, Roundhay, Leeds". Archived from the original on 31 May 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  4. ^ "BBC Education – Local Heroes Le Prince Biography". Archived from the original on 28 November 1999. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  5. ^ Burns, Paul. "The History of the Discovery of Cinematography". – "After his disappearance, the Le Prince family led by his wife and son went to court against Edison in what became known as Equity 6928. The famous Patent Wars ensued and by 1908 Thomas Edison was regarded as sole inventor of motion pictures, in the US at least. However, in 1902, two years after Le Prince’s son Adolphe had testified in the suit, he was found shot dead on Fire Island, New York."

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