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Cranford comes to West Wycombe

PUBLISHED: 15:49 08 February 2008 | UPDATED: 15:01 20 February 2013

The theatrical qualities of West Wycombe Park are perfect for period drama

The theatrical qualities of West Wycombe Park are perfect for period drama

West Wycombe Park took star billing alongside the likes of Dame Judi Dench and Imelda Staunton in the BBC's most recent period drama. Pat Rudd reports...

West Wycombe Park took star billing alongside the likes of Dame Judi Dench and Imelda Staunton in the BBC's most recent period drama. Pat Rudd reports.


IF YOU'VE been following the fortunes of the ladies of Cranford in the BBC's latest period drama recently, you may have noticed that, alongside the likes of Dame Judi Dench, Imelda Staunton, Eileen Atkins and West Wycombe Park also starred.

As one of the most theatrical and Italianate houses in England, with façades formed as classical temples and an interior with wonderfully ornate ceilings and decoration, it was perfect for the role of Hanbury Court, the home of Cranford's reigning aristocrat, Lady Ludlow, played by Francesca Annis.

Cranford, based on three novels by Elizabeth Gaskell, has been described as a richly moving and funny five-part period drama of love, friendships, disappointments and tragedy. It captures the small absurdities and major tragedies in the lives of the people of Cranford, a town on the cusp of great change.

The cast and crew spent one day in May filming at the magnificent mansion that is still home to the Dashwood family and around the estate, owned by the National Trust. The West Wycombe footage revolves around Lady Ludlow's garden party, which producer Sue Birtwhistle calls one of the pivotal 'set-piece' scenes. "It's like a ball in Jane Austen, where most of the main characters appear and stories are moved on."

Says Nick Phillips, property manager for the National Trust: "It's one of the most stunning parks and houses that we look after in Buckinghamshire. It really is a classic building of its style and we're delighted to see it used." Lisa Dillon, who played Mary Smith, agrees. She says: "Locations as perfect as this help enormously to kick you into the right place in terms of period."

West Wycombe Park will re-open to the public in April, while the house will open for a limited period in June.


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