04:30PM, Monday 18 January 2021
US actress Gillian Anderson (pictured) filmed at Hedsor House near Taplow for the Netflix series, The Crown. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore
Despite the ‘devastating’ impact of COVID-19, a landmark building near Taplow is on the map once more through a hit TV series trending on Netflix.
Hedsor House is a well-known wedding and events venue sitting in the leafy Hedsor Park, and has recently been the set for prominent shows on the box including Killing Eve and Downton Abbey.
The large, spacious rooms have played a number of location roles since Hedsor started to attract film and TV producers, but it has recently taken on the highest office in the land in the form of 10 Downing Street.
Actress Gillian Anderson plays late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Crown, a Netflix drama chronicling the life of Queen Elizabeth II from the 1940s to the modern period.
The latest season – number four – is the first that Hedsor House has been featured in, where it not only hosts the PM’s office, but also Balmoral Castle, a Scottish holiday retreat for the Royal Family.
Originally designed by Sir William Chambers, the architect of Somerset House in London, with the help of King George III and Queen Charlotte, the structure we see at Hedsor House today was completed in 1868.
Nick Shephard is one of three siblings – along with Mark and Hamish – running the house in South Bucks, together with 25 members of staff.
“Gillian Anderson was on set and was absolutely charming. She was in great spirits and very polite and friendly to our staff,” said Nick.
“It’s always hugely exciting when a film crew arrives onsite, however this was particularly exciting given the popularity and success of The Crown.
“This is the first series where Hedsor House has featured and we very much hope to welcome the cast and crew back again.”
Like many hospitality venues, Hedsor House has been struck by COVID-19, and was forced to postpone weddings and events during the spring peak.
News that the South east – including the whole of Bucks – would be entering tier 4 was another hurdle, with Hedsor forced to shut once again. And since then, a national lockdown has been imposed, sending further shockwaves through an already stricken industry.
Nick explained: “Whilst we have been able to welcome some limited filming, events and private rental bookings, within the Government restrictions, most events have been postponed to 2021.
“Outside of the lockdowns, we have been able to help a handful of couples to go ahead with their weddings within the restrictions.”
Nick added: “The last few months have been some of the toughest in Hedsor’s history. We have helped many couples to reschedule their 2020 weddings and cannot wait for live events and some semblance of normality to resume.
“We can definitely see rays of hope with news of the vaccine and mass testing becoming available. We have managed to successfully pivot and diversify, offering the house for private rentals and filming which has helped us to retain our incredible team and means that we’ll be ready to deliver live events as soon as it’s safe to do so.”
The Hedsor boss said that the wedding industry contributes £14.7billion to the UK economy per year, with the majority of its normal business coming between April and October.
Nick added he wants a ‘critical’ roadmap for recovery publlished by the Government and more sector-specific support for businesses hardest hit by the pandemic.
As news on the virus takes different turns – with hopes for a vaccine followed by a more contagious variant of COVID-19 – Hedsor can only sit tight and wait until it can resume normal duties.
While an appearance on The Crown may have lifted the spirits in the Hedsor team, it is hoped a return to a new normality will ensure the venue can continue hosting big names as we emerge into a post-virus world.
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