Ashridge Estate transformed for Les Miserables

Autumn view through a woodland alley, Ashridge Estate

Ashridge Estate hit the silver screen in January 2012 as one of the locations in the hit film Les Misérables.

Based on the long-running stage musical and classic novel by Victor Hugo, the film's stars include Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman.

Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, the epic story follows the plight of Valjean, an ex-convict on the run after breaking his parole.

Filming at Ashridge

In late April 2012 the cast and crew arrived to shoot in the huge expanse of woodland at Ashridge. A number of scenes were shot, including one where Ashridge stood in for countryside on the outskirts of Paris in the midwinter.

Graeme Cannon, Property Manager at Ashridge describes what it was like to be involved with the film:

'The location manager was on the look out for a particularly atmospheric spot of woodland with a really large tree and like many of our visitors and other filmmakers she fell in love with Frithsden Beeches.

'This wood contains a number of magnificent old beeches, including a 400 year-old tree with a 25 metre span that’s no stranger to the limelight having starred in Sleepy Hollow and Harry Potter.

'Once the area was chosen about 1,000 square metres of c90 (fake snow) was scattered to give it a wintry feel and Hugh Jackman made his dramatic entrance.

'We ask film crews to use c90 because it is washed away after use and doesn’t have any negative conservation or environmental impacts - particularly important at Ashridge as we’re a Site of Special Scientific Interest.'

Income for conservation work

Every film shot in Trust places or on our land generates income for the place in which it was filmed. Thanks to Les Misérables, Graeme and his team have been able to carry out important conservation work at Ashridge, including the continuing restoration of the historic designed landscape in Ashridge Park and the conservation of the nationally important chalk grassland on the Ivinghoe Hills