celluloid travels

August 27th, 2008

Fan or foe of the many period films made in England these days (Becoming Jane and The Duchess, to name but two), there is no denying the moody allure of the backdrops. With a wealth of preserved grounds and estates at the ready, filmmakers go straight to the source, forgoing the dreaded green screen. This holiday, take a trip full of cinematic intrigue and visit one of many National Trust properties that have played roles in the iconic films of our time.

Make the deal a little sweeter with some pre-trip planning: savvy travelers who join The Royal Oak Foundation, the US affiliate of the venerable National Trust, gain FREE access to all the properties featured below. Individual Royal Oak Foundation memberships cost only $55; pay only $90 for an entire family membership. Don’t wait, though – buying a membership pass in the UK means paying double, as an individual membership costs a whopping £46!

The most recent films shot on location at National Trust properties include…

The Duchess – Kedelston, West Wycombe, Clandon Park, and Osterley
Other Boleyn Girl
Knole, Dovedale, Lacock Abbey and Great Chalfield
Miss PotterYew Tree Farm and the lake district
Brideshead Revisited – Ham House
Hot Fuzz – Ashridge

The Jane Austen Connection:

In the celebrated 1995 BBC TV version of Pride and Prejudice it was the good fortune of Jennifer Ehle’s Lizzy to dine in the magnificent splendour of Belton House, which played Lady Catherine De Bourgh’s residence “Rosings.” Lyme Park, a Tudor house transformed into an Italianate palace in the 19th century, plays ‘Pemberley’, Mr. Darcy’s home. The scene featuring Colin Firth after a dip in the lake cemented the actor’s sex symbol status and turned Lyme Park into one of England’s most recognizable estates.

Basildon Park took a starring role in the 2005 production of Pride & Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley as Lizzy. The 18th-century Palladian mansion ‘played’ Mr Bingley’s house, ‘Netherfield’, a suitably grand residence for a ‘young man of four or five thousand a year’. The house is also the setting for the sumptuous ballroom scenes. The film also features the revered 18th-century landscaped garden Stourhead and one of its enchanting temples. The Temple of Apollo, set above the tranquil lake, was used as the location for Darcy’s first and futile proposal to Lizzy. Afterwards an offended Lizzy makes her exit across the Palladian Bridge.

Claydon House, a fine Georgian country house in Buckinghamshire, was the location for the ballroom scene in the 1996 film of Jane Austen’s Emma. The film stars Gwyneth Paltrow as the self-elected matchmaker, Emma, who inevitably gets a taste of her own medicine.

Montacute House in Somerset played a major role in Sense and Sensibility, the Oscar-winning film adapation of Jane Austen’s novel starring Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson. Ten years later, it took on a less-refined part as Johnny Depp’s ‘den of iniquity’ in The Libertine.

The Royal Oak Foundation is the United States partner of the National Trust of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Royal Oak members gain free entry to over 200 important historic houses and gardens, 40 castles, 76 nature reserves, and six World Heritage Sites owned by the National Trust. The Foundation supports National Trust conservation projects and offers a series of lectures and other public programs in U.S. cities on topics including British history, architecture, gardens, the fine and decorative arts – as well as other programs in the U.K. As a U.S. not-for-profit organization, membership dues and donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

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