Settings and sets

At the weekend we visited Montecute House in south Somerset; this magnificent Tudor mansion which many people will know without realising it, as it’s been the setting for so many films. This beautiful old place built from honey-golden Ham stone and still with much of the original glass in the windows (four hundred year old glass!) was built in 1598 by Sir Edward Phelips; his family had lived in the area for nearly a hundred and fifty years. They were farmers, yeomen farmers, but Edward became a lawyer, then a member of parliament, then the king’s serjeant and  he was knighted in 1603.  He played an important part in the politics of the time and in fact he was a prosecutor during the trial of those involved in the Gunpowder Plot. His great-grandfather had bought the site of the grand house so it had been in the family for decades before the first foundation was dug or brick laid.


You might have seen it in the following films:

  • Sense and Sensibility (1995)
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles (2000)
  • The Libertine (2004)
  • The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (Tottington Hall in the film was based on the house, 2005)
  • A Jubilee Bunt-A-Thon (Wallace and Gromit short film, 2012)
  •  Wolf Hall (2014)

I sometimes wonder about my own novels and stories… supposing they were ever by some miracle made into  films or TV series? Who would star in them, where would they be set? Only one of my novels, ‘Flipside’ is set in a real location, Oldham in Lancashire. it was set a bout twenty years ago, so much of the town centre has changed or vanished through redevelopment; however most of the action takes place in the village of Lees, and that is pretty unchanged, and Saddleworth Moor where other scenes take place is as beautiful as ever!

Another novel is loosely based on Yorkshire Pennine towns and villages, Holmfirth and Marsden mainly and so I’m sure any filming could take place there – I know often completely different locations are used pretending to be somewhere else, but even so, there are places just ready in case anyone should ever take up my novel ‘Loving Judah’.

All my other novels are set in my fictitious coastal area and the city of Strand and the towns of Easthope and Castair, and Camel Wood, an ancient woodland. Strand is completely made up but it has a promenade, an old harbour which is unused except by a few fishermen, and a new harbour which is where the ferry to Farholm Island docks. Farholm is very loosely based on Rathlin Island off the Antrim Coast. The seaside near my town of Easthope is similar to Portballintrae, also in Antrim, but Castair which is up on the moors, has more in common with some of the Pennine hill towns.

I’m sure if anyone ever should want to film my books, I would be so delighted and thrilled I would accept wherever they set them!

If you haven’t read my novels, here is a link:




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