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Manor house’s supporting role in fantasy-action film
Published 09/01/17

OVER the years, Grade II-listed Harpsden Court has featured as a location in many a film and TV series.

Currently on the market for the first time in 40 years, the manor house’s showreel includes Quantum of Solace (starring Daniel Craig), The Invisible Woman (starring Ralph Fiennes), Jude (starring Kate Winslet and Christopher Eccleston), The Woman in Black (starring Daniel Radcliffe), and Parade’s End (starring Benedict Cumberbatch).

Not so much a case of “location, location, location” as “on location, location, location”.

The house’s latest supporting role came when it was chosen as the main set for the film adaptation of children’s author Georgia Byng’s 2002 bestseller, Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism.

The film version, titled Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism, was released in cinemas in April 2015 but has just come out on DVD.

English actress Raffey Cassidy plays the title role, with Emily Watson, Dominic Monaghan, Joan Collins and Celia Imrie among the other big names to feature.

Harpsden Court’s latest role as “Hardwick House Orphanage” saw the cast spend three weeks filming on location.

Owner Mrs Barbara Gerrard said it was exciting to see the shoot in progress, but added that this was “a particularly long period of filming, and also one of the property’s last”.

If you watch Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism, you’ll be privileged to see a good deal of the house — including the simply immaculate 18th century kitchen, complete with iron range stove, scrubbed wooden dresser and all kinds of interesting cubby holes that only a museum curator would recognise.

There is also an enticing medieval/Elizabethan part, a mysterious-looking Gothic revival section, a refined Regency wing, and a charming ensemble which began life under Queen Victoria.

This last comes complete with multiple larders, a wine cellar, sewing room, a butler’s mini-pantry, a scullery (utility room) with original stoneware, along with staff quarters of six bedrooms and three bath/shower rooms.

The estate consists of Harpsden Court manor plus a three-bedroom detached property in the grounds called Guildfords and a pair of two-bedroom brick-and-flint cottages in the former stable yard, beyond. (The guide price is £8,950,000 for the whole estate or £6,700,000 for the manor house alone.)

With parts dating from the medieval era, the house is a glorious hodgepodge of periods, including medieval stonework hidden inside Elizabethan rebuilding, Gothic revival and 18th century Palladian windows.

Standout features include the 16th century oak panelled dining hall with stone fireplace; the principal staircase (there are four) with a magnificent ‘George and the Dragon’ interior window; and an 18th century Rococo music room, which has a breathtaking cupola ‘ceiling’. Structurally designed by Thomas Gainsborough’s brother Humphrey, who was a well-known local engineer, the cupola makes acoustics in this room particularly special.

Local agent Stephen Christie-Miller from the Henley branch of Savills, which is marketing the property, said: “Along with Friar Park and Fawley Court, this is probably the last of Henley’s original gentrified estates in private hands, and is the first of these to be for sale for many decades.

“Much like Friar Park, with Harpsden Court you really are in walking distance of the town centre and all that it has to offer. It’s one of the reasons the house has hosted a number of crews for Henley Royal Regatta over the years. To walk from the house to Henley Bridge takes a leisurely 25 minutes.

“I can’t state enough the importance of this property — it is one of the most outstanding and important properties to come to the local market for some time, and it will appeal greatly to those who want a discreet country retreat without being too far removed from the convenience of modern-day amenities and transportation links.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to bring this landmark property into 2016, while respecting its antiquity.”

• Harpsden Court, Harpsden, near Henley. Offers from £8,950,000 (guide price). For more information, call the Henley office of Savills on (01491) 843000.

Published 09/01/17

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