It's a safe bet that any marketing manager for a historic house would kill to have their grounds beamed into cinemas nationwide.Boughton House, the former home of the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch in Northamptonshire, is the family home for Eddie Redmayne's character, Marius, in the big-screen version of Lés Miserables, which begins the task of beguiling auditoriums today.
It’s also the place for his wedding to Amanda Seyfried’s Cosette, providing a church, seven courtyards, a lily pond and a rose garden within a Grade I-listed park amid 1,000 acres of countryside.
“Boughton House has a long history of supporting the arts,” says Charles Lister, the Property Manager of the 16th century site, which became known as England’s answer to Versailles when it later adopted a distinctly French architectural style in a vision of Louis XIV’s famous Palace.
“We were delighted to have played a small role in the making of this film. It’s been an exciting year at the Estate, with X Factor and Les Mis both filmed here. We hope to welcome further opportunities in the future.”
Their televisual visitors, Cheryl Cole and Gary Barlow, set up mock “homes” within Boughton, although the real artistic genius was left inside the house itself, where works from Gainsborough and Van Dyck feature alongside Boulle furniture, textiles and porcelain made for the French royal family and a spectacular Great Hall featuring the 300-year-old Apotheosis of Hercules series.
Mere mortals can also see them: as well as inviting pre-booked group visits, it opens to the public on the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of March and throughout August, allowing the public to tour 20 rooms, 12 entrances, 52 chimney stacks and 365 windows.
The most striking outdoor feature is perhaps Orpheus, an inverted grass pyramid which descends seven metres below the terraces and seems invisible until you near it, named after a muso of Greek mythology who tried to reclaim his dead wife from the underworld. The gardens are open to the public on February 23 and 24.
- Visit www.boughtonhouse.org.uk for more.