"A drama-documentary of the life of Elias Ashmole including a reconstruction of the first personally recorded Free Masonic Initiation into a Lodge anywhere in the world. Tobias Churton’s riveting drama-documentary brings the latest research into the genuine mystery of Masonic origins into exciting and accessible form. Shot on location in the hidden places of the Staffordshire Moorlands, the film features the first ever dramatic reconstruction of 17th century Masonic workings. Elias Ashmole’s initiation is shown in its entirety, including the hand-grip, Mason’s word, signs and oaths taken from the earliest known ritual records of Free Masonry. Atmospheric and magical, the effect is like eavesdropping on the 17th century’s most secret world. Ashmole was also an astrologer and alchemist, believing himself to be in possession of the secret of the Philosopher’s Stone. This film is both authoritative and imaginative, revealing England at its deepest and most fascinatingly esoteric.
The Rosicrucians are a legendary esoteric Order first publicly documented in the early 17th century. They are said to have the power to heal the sick, work miracles and even possess the secret of immortality. A journey of discovery into the secret world of magic, heresy and alchemy to discover the true secrets of Rosicrusianism. As Tobias Churton takes you in to the mysterious world of the Rosicrucians, what were their aims and teachings and what was the new heaven and a new earth that made them so feared by the Christian church as to be tortured and sold into slavery for their beliefs? Both DVDs are universal, they are not locked to a region, they will play anywhere.
These two films by Tobias Churton are remarkable for their independence of vision, knowledge and film making skill."
Bruno Gazzo, PIETRE STONES REVIEW OF FREEMASONRY
"Toby Churton’s latest film, A Mighty Good Man, is a development of the material first presented in Initiation (Dragon Films, 1996). In it, we follow Elias Ashmole, played by Columba Powell, on his journey to his initiation into Freemasonry in 1646. Readers of this periodical should hardly need reminding that Ashmole’s initiation is the first of which a written record is extant. Ashmole’s ride, during a lull in the hostilities of the Civil War, traverses his native Staffordshire and continues across the border in Cheshire. Along the way we are treated to glimpses of the old ‘earth magic’ and rituals of the region, including the strange and haunting Horn Dance at Abbots Bromley. The antlers used in this ritual, whose precise significance are lost in the mists of time, are those reindeer and of great antiquity, predating any record of the dance itself. Thus we accompany Ashmole through time and space, from darkness ever onwards towards the light: the moment of his rebirth as a brother among masons. The ‘Dramatised Documentary’ style that Toby adopts for the film will be familiar to television viewers, but here it is used far more inventively than in the great bulk of broadcast material. Along the way, the strange spiritual parallels to Ashmole’s physical progress are hinted at visually, rather than distracting the viewer with plodding narration. The use of captions allows us to contemplate some truly arresting images without distraction - a technique that many makers of both drama and documentary productions could learn from.
Past and present are fused. Ashmole’s journey is happening now as well as then, we are with him and he is with us. There is far more than a history lesson here.
The climax of the drama is a recreation of a seventeenth century Acception ceremony including the recital of the Old Charges. The intimacy of these scenes is highly effective and the use of largely amateur performers gives the proceedings an air of authenticity that is absolute. The rendition of the ritual is not perfect but it is unfeignedly sincere: little, it seems, has changed... The film has obviously been produced on a very low budget but this in no way detracts from its impact and in many ways adds to its charm. Toby Churton has struggled, manfully, to cram a gallon of knowledge into a pint pot of a production. It is infused with the scholar’s happiness with his subject and the film maker’s joy at being able to communicate that happiness to others. One gets the impression at some points that the tape player must be running at fast forward, so densely are the images and ideas layered - by the end, one is really reeling! In fine, the movie is very like the man. Which man, Ashmole or Churton? Both..."
Andrew Montgomery, FREEMASONRY TODAY magazine
"As regular readers of Freemasonry Today will know, our former editor, Tobias Churton, has long pursued extensive research into the history of the Rosicrucian movement, its origins in the early seventeenth century and the important men at its centre. He has written two articles for Freemasonry Today (Issues 17 and 18) and a book The Golden Builders (2005).
He explains that the Rosicrucians never existed as a chartered organised group rather, it was an idea. It was idealism given a voice. It was idealism seeking practical expression. It was also, as Churton notes, the ‘greatest publicity-stunt of all time’. Churton has now completed a two-part documentary film about the Rosicrucians in which he has striven to cut away the mythology which has grown around them and aims to understand and express what those men at the centre had to say. In particular it reveals their passion and commitment for the pursuit of truth; a pursuit which, in the early seventeenth century, was a dangerous profession: Adam Haslmyer, ‘Rosicrucian’ and doctor, supporter of that medical genius, Paracelsus - who had pioneered the benefits of science to medicine - was sent to the papal galleys for five years as a slave for his enthusiasm for ‘a new heaven and a new earth’. His opponents preferred the old ones.
These ‘Rosicrucians’ were ahead of their time; their light burned brightly, but briefly, before being driven into the shadows by the unholy alliance of Habsburg and Papacy who, committed solely to power and control, led an onslaught before which even truth had to retreat in order to fight another day. Churton’s film explores and explains one of the major building blocks of our modern culture, an idea which sought to bring idealism down to earth; it is the story of men who strove to marry science and spirituality in order to bring some of that divine perfection into a practical form in order that all men might be free and live more fulfilling lives. It was a truly noble aim. And it was essentially a simple aim. That figure at the heart of the Rosicrucian ‘publicity-stunt’, Johann Valentin Andreae held, as Churton explains, that the ideals were ‘best expressed in love for one’s neighbour and an open-hearted and open-minded response to new knowledge.’"
Michael Baigent, FREEMASONRY TODAY