Wednesday, December 12, 2007

"Cranford" - the location of Lady Ludlow's House

Very often when I’m watching TV I wonder where the filming took place – the scenery and the buildings can look so familiar and yet usually I can’t place them. In the case of Lady Ludlow’s house in “Cranford” I recognised the outside views immediately. It’s West Wycombe Park, in Buckinghamshire. It is set in beautiful grounds. It’s been a while since I visited the house and I’m not sure that the scenes inside Lady Ludlow’s house were filmed inside West Wycombe Park mansion. Looking at the pictures in the guidebook the grand entrance hall has a similar floor but the columns and walls are different. The colour too is different, whereas the actual entrance hall is predominantly cream and brown Lady Ludlow’s grand room was overall white and grey, matching the grey grandeur of Lady Ludlow herself. Wherever it was filmed it was impressive. Lady Ludlow is becoming my favourite character in this TV production, stealing the show somewhat from Miss Matty in my view. The view of the railway coming over the horizon onto Lady Ludlow’s land was astounding – I could almost believe it was real!

I’m looking forward to visiting West Wycombe Park again next year. It is owned by the National Trust and is only open to the public during June, July and August. The grounds with its temples, lake and cascade are open from April to the end of August. It’s a beautiful Palladian style house, remodelled from the original Queen Anne house between 1735 and 1781 by Sir Francis Dashwood. Sir Francis was a most interesting character – a member of the Hell-Fire Club, and a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Society of Antiquaries.

Elizabeth Gaskell based her fictional town of “Cranford” on Knutsford, in Cheshire. I suppose it is because Knutsford has changed since the 1840s that Cranford was not filmed there, but in Lacock, in Wiltshire. I had a school friend who lived Knutsford. Every year there is the May Day festival in Knutsford and I remember going with my friend to watch the May Day procession through the town, but the highlight for me as a young teenager was the fairground rather than the coronation of the May Queen. It was all very different from the “Cranford” May Day celebrations, which were filmed on the Ashridge Estate in the Chilterns, not in Cheshire. There were Morris Dancers and a Maypole, but I don’t remember a dancing bush!

3 comments:

Middle Ditch said...

Hi booksplease,

Thank you for your E-mail, which I received some days ago. I'm not French but Dutch and in Holland Christmas is rather low key. The big celebration is still New Years Eve with loads of fireworks to chase out the old and hail in the new year. The presents are usually (but it is changing) on Saint Nicholas Day in the evening. Days before the fifth of December, children will put their shoes out with a carrot for the horse and in the morning, to their utter delight, they find a chocolate surprise.

I expect that the scenes inside the house were filmed in a studio. The National trust wont allow that inside their precious house. For a fee they allow to film outside only. Like in Brideshead Revisited, all the inside shots were in a studio.

BooksPlease said...

Thanks Middle Ditch.

I thought the inside scenes must have been in a studio; they were still good though. The lighting needed would probably be too much for the NT, where they usually have blinds and covers at the windows to prevent the glare from the sun affecting the rooms and furnishings.

Angela Young said...

So that's where it is ... I did wonder. Thank you for identifying it.