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Leighton Hall takes Romantic lead in Hollywood Blockbuster

The Lancashire home of the Gillow family is to play a leading role in a block buster movie which started filming last week.

Leighton Hall, near Carnforth is to feature in “Possession”, an adaptation of AS Byatt’s Booker Prize winning novel.

In the film, Maud Bailey (Gwyneth Paltrow) is a brilliant English academic who is researching the life and work of the poet, Christabel LaMotte (Jennifer Ehle). Roland Michell (Aaron Eckhart) is an upstart American scholar in London on a fellowship to study the great Randolph Henry Ash (Jermey Northam), now best known for a collection of rapturous, late-life poems dedicated to his wife. When Maud and Roland discover a cache of love-letters that appear to be from Ash to LaMotte, they follow a trail of clues across England to the Continent, echoing the journey of the impassioned couple a century earlier.

Preparation for Leighton’s part has been extensive. The limestone hall has been decked with lorry loads of real & artificial ivy. The recently refurbished conservatory looked too pristine for the film makers – It was therefore “aged” with a mixture of washing up liquid & emulsion paint. The Music Room wing was boarded up with charred wood to give it a truly distressed appearance.

Finally Leighton’s tower was crowned with a mini dome. The tower plays a crucial role as it is here that the love letters are found - A suitably romantic aspect was essential. The interior of the tower is to be recreated at Shepperton Studios for further scenes.

This set dressing took almost a week with up to 90 people involved in the preparations.

Suzie Gillow Reynolds said, “It has been tremendous fun! The Hall has been transformed from pure Gothic to Victorian romantic in a week. Leighton looked so wonderful that we are almost tempted to add some permanent foliage.”

Ron Sands, Senior Tourism Officer for Lancaster City Council said, “This is excellent news for the district. We have already seen the benefit of these business visitors staying in our hotels & eating in our restaurants. Now we can look forward to the international exposure Lancaster’s rural areas will enjoy on the big screen next year.”

“Possession” is produced by Paula Weinstein and Barry Levinson and executive produced by David Barron. USA Films, a division of USA Networks, and Warner Bros. Pictures are production partners on the film. USA Films will distribute the film in the US and Warner Bros. Pictures will release it internationally.


From Leighton Hall's website 07/09/2000

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