Emma | 1996
Director Douglas McGrath (co-writer of Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway) drenches his adaptation of the Jane Austen novel with honeyed golden light, but the film was upstaged by the more spirited Nineties update, Clueless.
‘Hartfield’, the home of compulsive matchmaker Emma Woodhouse (Gwyneth Paltrow) and her hypochondriac father is Came House (a private home, not open to the public) at Winterborne Came in south Dorset. It is 2 miles south of Dorchester and 5 miles north of Weymouth.
Came House previously featured in Austenland as ‘Barton Park’ in the 1981 BBC TV mini-series of Sense and Sensibility.
The book-lined gallery in which Frank Churchill (Ewan McGregor) begins to reveal his feelings to Emma, is the Long Gallery of Syon House, Syon Park. Set in grounds landscaped by Capability Brown, the house is on the north bank of the Thames eight miles west of London, off the A4 between Brentford and Isleworth (tube/ rail: Gunnersbury Park). The Great Hall is open to the public. A frequent film star, you can see more of its elegant rooms and corridors in The Madness of King George, Joseph Losey’s Accident, The Wings of the Dove and even The Avengers.
The fictional village of ‘Highbury, Surrey’ is Evershot, eight miles south of Yeovil in Dorset, where the Old Manor stands in for the schoolhouse and Fore Street is dressed with sheep pens and straw. Evershot features as ‘Evershead’, where the Tess of the d'Urbervilles stops to have breakfast in the Thomas Hardy novel.
‘Randalls’, the Westons’ house, is Mapperton, home of the Earl and Duchess of Sandwich, five miles northeast of Bridport, also in Dorset. The beautiful gardens were previously seen in 1995 historical drama Restoration, with Robert Downey Jr and Meg Ryan, while the house itself becomes the farm inherited by Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) in Thomas Vinterberg’s 2015 version of Thomas Hardy’s Far From The Madding Crowd.
The dinner party at ‘Hartfield’, where Mr Weston announces that Mr Churchill is returning to the village, is the Dining Room of Stratfield Saye, one time home of the Duke of Wellington, between Reading and Basingstoke, in Hampshire. Stratfield Saye was recently used as the cavalry barracks in Steven Spielberg’s War Horse, and its grounds hosted filming for Avengers: Age Of Ultron.
It’s back to Dorset for the exterior of ‘Donwell Abbey’, the home of Mr Knightley (Jeremy Northam), which is Crichel House, Newtown, set in 400 acres of parkland. The original Tudor house was largely destroyed by fire in 1742. It was rebuilt for Sir William Napier by Francis Cartwright and the wonderfully-named John Bastard. To improve the view from the house, the local village was moved – hence the name ‘New Town’.
The grand dance at ‘Donwell Abbey’, at which Emma and Mr Knightley realise that their relationship is not ‘brother and sister’, is the rococo splendour of Claydon House, Middle Claydon, a National Trust property thirteen miles northwest of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, a grand 18th century home decorated with astonishing wood-carving by Luke Lightfoot.
More scenes were filmed at Stafford House at West Stafford, east of Dorchester in Dorset, now home of Gosford Park scriptwriter Julian Fellowes; in East Coker in Somerset (where poet TS Elliot is buried); and at Breakspear House, Breakspear Road North, a disused old people’s home southeast of Harefield in Greater London. For a while home to librettist WS Gilbert, the Grade I listed building has now been redeveloped at flats.