The Pursuit of Love film locations
Based on Nancy Mitford’s 1945 novel ‘The Pursuit of Love’, this three-part BBC series follows the wild-hearted Linda Radlett as she embarks upon a quest in search of romance. Places we care for made the ideal backdrop for Linda’s whirlwind tour, which takes her from her home in Oxfordshire to London, Paris and the Pyrenees.
Set during the interwar period, the series stars Lily James as Linda, who is determined to find true love. She's joined in her quest by her cousin and best friend Fanny Logan (Emily Beecham), who often spends holidays at the Radlett's Oxfordshire home. But their friendship is put to the test as Fanny settles for a quiet life, and Linda decides to follow her heart – whatever the cost.
Most of the filming took place in the south west of England, including several of the historic houses that we look after.
Filming at Dyrham Park
Dyrham Park near Bath is no stranger to period dramas, having appeared in Remains of the Day, Sense and Sensibility (2008) and ITV’s Sanditon, among others. For The Pursuit of Love, the 17th-century mansion stood in for parts of Alconleigh, the Radlett family’s home.
Most of the action took place in the Gilt Leather Parlour, which was transformed into a ballroom for two ‘coming out’ balls. The first is in honour of Linda’s older sister Louisa, followed by Fanny and Linda’s joint celebration where Linda meets Tony Kroesig – the handsome young heir to a banking family.
The house team were on hand throughout filming to make sure that the precious interiors and collections were all protected. Although this meant long hours and hard work, there were plenty of highlights too, such as watching Andrew Scott – who plays the Radletts’ eccentric neighbour Lord Merlin – dancing around the Parlour in silk pyjamas.
" It was fascinating to see how the props teams were able to transform a room within hours, and think of everything from flowers to the details of a light switch"
Other parts of Dyrham were also used for filming, including the Great Hall which was the site of Linda’s first London dance, and the Plod Room which was transformed into a bookshop where Linda works during episode two. Meanwhile, the gardens made a brief appearance as part of Lord Merlin's estate during his introductory montage scene.
‘It was also fascinating to see how the props teams were able to transform a room within hours, and think of everything from flowers to the details of a light switch,’ said Dyrham’s House and Collections Manager Eilidh Auckland. ‘All of us are really looking forward to watching the series to make sense of the snippets we saw being filmed and see Dyrham’s starring role on screen.’
Filming at Stourhead
Stourhead is best known for its world-famous landscape garden, but in this case it was the Palladian-style house that took centre stage, standing as the interiors of Linda’s chic Parisian apartment in episode three. Filming mainly took place in the Column Room and the Italian Room, which became her bedroom and living room respectively.
Despite the garden's fame, Stourhead House has rarely appeared on screen, so it was a new experience for the house team. It took almost a whole month to prepare for the eight-day shoot: moving precious paintings and objects, taking out furniture the film crew didn't need in shot and covering non-movables with protective layers. The team even had lessons in making bespoke door protections from a specialist filming conservator, and discovered the many and varied uses of pipe lagging: such as fitting it around wires to prevent them rubbing on skirting boards.
Once the film crew arrived, all of their props and furniture were laid out on the drive for inspection in order to ensure that no pests were brought in which could endanger Stourhead’s own collection. Once everything was given the all-clear, the crew could get to work set-dressing the rooms, including the Entrance Hall which was transformed into a glamorous art-deco nightclub.
" The days were long and full on, but we felt lucky to be part of this amazing process."
Stourhead’s House and Collections Officer Peta Henley was on set throughout to help make sure that everything went smoothly: ‘On filming days there would be a lot of frenetic activity with the crew dashing about setting up cameras, lighting and sound equipment, all under the watchful eyes of the house team. Then the shout of “rolling!” would echo throughout the house and it would suddenly go quiet, until someone called “cut!” and everyone sprang back into action.’
‘We were able to watch the scenes being filmed on monitors which was incredible, especially if we were in the same room as the director's cohort. It really brought home the fact that movie magic was happening just around the corner.’
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Stourhead team’s highlight also involved Andrew Scott – in this case watching him having to eat multiple chocolate eclairs while filming a scene in the Italian room. Of course, the real benefit here was that the house team were allowed to finish off the leftover eclairs once filming wrapped for the day.
‘The days were long and full on, but we felt lucky to be part of this amazing process and learn so much about how filming works in an historic property,’ said Peta.
Supporting special places
As well as showing off beautiful locations, the filming of The Pursuit of Love also directly benefits the places that star in the series. The income from location fees goes straight back into conservation work to care for these historic houses and landscapes, so that we’ll all be able to see them both on screen and in real life for years to come.