WHEN boy band One Direction turned up at the Fawley Hill estate for a photoshoot, the lady of the house could only ask, “Which direction?”
Lady McAlpine, who lives on the 250-acre estate with her husband Sir William, admits she had no idea who the four young men were when she was approached by location scouts.
The pictures taken last July were used to promote the band’s latest album Take Me Home, which has topped the charts in 35 countries and sold more than four million copies.
The estate left a lasting impression on the band. In a behind-the-scenes video of the photoshoot, band member Liam Payne says they are in “possibly the weirdest place I’ve ever been to in my life”.
The singers are filmed meeting some of the estate’s menagerie of 500 animals — including llamas, emus, goats and meerkats — and riding golf buggies and motorised scooters. There is also footage of them walking on the railway track that covers much of the estate.
A photo of Payne and bandmate Louis Tomlinson clambouring over a traditional red telephone box in the grounds was used for the album cover.
Photos were also taken inside the McAlpines’ house, posing for a “family portrait” alongside plate armour, playing with the family dog, Boris, and spraying silly string on Sir William’s model trains. Payne also finds a £1 note made in 1956, which is framed and hangs in the lavatory.
In the video, he says: “I’ve had a really nice time. The location itself is quite strange and quirky and I think we quite enjoyed ourselves with all the animals and being on and off the trains. There’s a lot of fancy cars in the background. We got some great shots out there.”
Lady McAlpine, 68, said she is often approached by production companies wanting to do photoshoots in the estate.
She said: “They came down and the art director was setting up the day before. We asked him ‘who is this band that’s coming then?’
“He said ‘if we told you we would have to kill you’. When they arrived, someone told us it’s One Direction and I said ‘so which direction?’ I had no idea. You see we’re awfully old and don’t know much about modern bands.We were told ‘you must know who they are, they’re bigger than The Beatles’. I said ‘don’t be ridiculous.’”
Despite not being up-to- date with the charts, Lady McAlpine was full of praise for the young men, who have sold 14 million singles and eight million albums since finishing third on The X Factor in 2010.
She said: “They were really charming young lads — and they were naughty. Let’s just say they enjoyed the golf buggies. They were good fun and really nice, well-mannered young lads. They’re a hell of an example for children of their age.
“They could’ve been appalling given the money they had earned so fast. But they were great.
“For one of the photos, they were playing with silly string and sprayed one of my husband’s model trains. He just said to leave it there — and it’s still there now.”
Hannah Twigger, who lives in the estate, was taken for a drive in a red Ford Mustang by Harry Styles and the car owner, who had lent it for the photoshoot.
The 18-year-old teaching assistant at Badgemore Pre-School, said: “My dad told me there was a photoshoot taking place, which is normal.
“He said it’s someone called ‘One Wanted’ and I thought ‘that’s weird because I’ve never heard of them’. I went down to where the shoot was and said to him ‘you do realise who this is? It’s One Direction’.
“I met all the boys but pretty much talked to Harry all day. He was the nicest one of them.
“He got obsessed with the Mustang and said he would give me a drive around Fawley. We had a laugh and were taking the mickey out of each other all day.
“He was lovely, a really nice boy and he asked me about my family, my siblings and what kind of job I had. He told me about his sister and it showed he was pretty normal.
“His driving was awful though and he drove too fast — we had a lot of jokes about it. He kept saying when he’s back in Henley he will come and visit again.”
Miss Twigger, who studied photography at The Henley College last year and took her own pictures on the day, said: “They were all really down to earth. The only one I didn’t really see was Zayn because he was getting make-up done.”
Miss Twigger said her father Roy, who owned the golf buggies, had to tell off the band members for driving them round the estate.
She said: “They just said ‘it’s fine, we will get someone to pay for it’.”
lA steam and vintage vehicle rally will be held at the Fawley Hill estate to raise money for charities on May 18 and 19. The event will mark the centenary of the Hudswell Clarke 060 Saddlea Tank Engine No 31, a working engine that has been in the McAlpine family its entire working life. For more information or to enter a vehicle, call (01491) 571373, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.fawleyhill.co.uk