I’ve been recommended photographer at Hedsor House for three years now, and it is without doubt one of my most loved wedding venues. I persuaded my brother Tim to get married there in December last year, which he did, and I am very much looking forward to shooting the wedding of my very old friend Jon in the summer this year. Although recommending a venue is quite a responsibility – especially when you are actually listened to, and the whole day is balanced upon your suggestion – with Hedsor House there is never any worry. It delivers every time.
I was asked by Hamish and Nick Shephard to shoot some family portraits for them. Hedsor House has been in the Shephard family since the 1930’s, and is now run by the Shephard brothers as an incredibly successful wedding and corporate events venue, as well as a distinctive location for film and television. It was a great honour to be asked to shoot the portraits, which were widely used in the run up to the release of Dustin Hoffman’s recent movie Quartet – filmed entirely on location at Hedsor House.
As I am there so often shooting weddings, I am fascinated by the building, its history and its personality. I caught up with Nick sometime later and he kindly agreed to give me the low down….
Nick Shephard at Hedsor House
Guy Hearn: How long have the Shephards owned Hedsor House and what is the history behind this?
Nick Shephard: Philip Edward Shephard my Great Grandfather bought Hedsor House in 1932 as a wedding present for my Grandparents. Hedsor has been a much loved and cared for family estate since this time. My two younger brothers and I now run Hedsor House as a successful wedding, filming and events business.
GH: Growing up here did you have a favourite area in the grounds as a child?
NS: We have an isolated lake with small island and bridge where we spent much if our childhood. We were fortunate to spend many days camping, cycling, having barbecues and countless bonfires!
GH: Just how old are those enormous trees?
NS: The beautiful Cedars of Lebanon next to the house? They can be seen from the Thames! They are over 200 years old. These are are very important to us and can always be seen on our website and brochures.
GH: Every time I turn on the TV I seem to see Hedsor House – how did your involvement in location work at Hedsor come about?
NS: From 1968 to 2003 the family leased the house to a multinational who used it as a residential conference and training centre.
I left university in 2004 and as the property was then empty I decided to start actively promoting it as a film location. I contacted the BBC, the governmental screen agencies, private Location agencies and all the UK location managers. Through numerous phone calls, emails, site visits and a website, I established a real interest in Hedsor from an early stage.
Film production companies loved it’s proximity to London, Soho and Pinewood, it’s good transport links, and it’s total flexibility as a privately owned property. In addition it was a new and spacious location for them that had never before been available for filming.
GH: What are the highlights to date of using Hedsor House for film and TV work?
NS: Quartet (directed by Dustin Hoffman) and The Golden Compass with Nicole Kidman are the two biggest highlights to date. Other major productions shot at the house include BBC Sense and Sensibility, Little Dorritt, Hustle, Spooks, Strictly Dance Fever, The Special Relationship (Michael Sheen and Dennis Quade), Brighton Rocks (Helen Mirren), Ricky Gervais and Jay Sean (‘Down’).
You can see more film production information at our website
GH: Tell me about The filming of The Quartet at Hedsor House recently.
NS: I was on holiday in France when I had a call on a Sunday from location manager I knew. He urgently needed to see the house, in fact that Sunday! I was informed Dustin Hoffman was over from the US and they were scouting for his film which required a large country house and grounds. Of course I arranged this at once.
After several meetings and site visits with the senior production team and Mr Hoffman at Hedsor and in London, I was delighted to be informed that Hedsor had been finally selected to be the country house location for Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut.
Having been selected for its charm and character, the house was then transformed into Quartet’s fictional Beecham House — a stately retirement home for opera singers.
Filming started at the end of August 2011 and went on until the end of November 2011. The film was almost entirely shot on location at Hedsor over the 3 months.
The story is based on Sir Ronald Harwood’s stage play and features an all star cast: Dame Maggie Smith, Sir Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, Sheridan Smith and Michael Gambon.
The domed Grand Hall, Ballroom, Central Staircase and Boudoir as well as the woodlands and gardens were all transformed into key sets. It was a very special time for our family to see all of this going on – obviously all agreed in advance! The former American Airforce Communication building, last used in the Cold War, became the Production Headquarters.
Click here to see the official trailer of Dustin Hoffman’s QUARTET filmed at Hedsor House.
GH: How did this impact on the wedding side of Hedsor House?
NS: During the three month filming schedule, we hosted 24 different events and weddings, providing logistical challenges for the film’s crew as the entire set had to be rigged and taken down eight times, from the curtains on the windows, right down to every single prop! Quite a feat!
The house had to be left immaculate ready to receive the next wedding clients in the morning. I am delighted to say that everything ran to plan thanks to the Hedsor and Quartet teams working so well together.
GH: What are your hopes for the future of events at Hedsor?
NS: My brothers and I wish to establish Hedsor as the leading, privately owned, country house venue in the UK, renowned for its isolated privacy, flexibility, impressive grounds and all just 40 minutes from Central London.
GH: Which is your favourite view of Hedsor House?
NS: My favourite view is from our tennis court, where you view the house from the South East. Here the magnificent cedars are visible as well as the vistas through the woods towards the Thames.
GH: Which of these ten wedding images is your favourite Hedsor photograph and why?
NS: Number 7 – the one above! This is the view of the house as it is south facing and therefore receives the most amount of sun, when we have sun in England that is! Numerous wedding and corporate clients have made use of this side for barbeques and drinks receptions on the lawns.
From this spot you can also see the isolated Quartet bandstand in our grounds. Situated under a home oak about 150metres away this is where Maggie Smith and Pauline Collins were filmed. Naturally it has now become a popular spot for brides and their photos as there are stunning views of the house from it too!
GH: Aha – I have used that spot a few times myself! Many Thanks Nick!
Mr & Mrs Shephard with their son Nick – south view of Hedsor House
If you would like to discuss your Hedsor House Wedding Photography give me a call on 07525 812560!