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24 September 2014

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Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan. Image by Redbus Film
Rob Brydon (left) and Steve Coogan

A cock and bull story at Felbrigg Hall

A glittering line-up of stars, including Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan, made Felbrigg Hall in north Norfolk their home-from-home during the filming of Michael Winterbottom's A Cock And Bull Story.

Felbrigg Hall Fact File

  • Felbrigg Hall contains its original 18th century furniture and one of the largest collections of Grand Tour paintings by a single artist
  • The Walled Garden has been restored and features a series of potager gardens, a working dovecote and the National Collection of Colchicums
  • The park, through which there are marked walks, is well known for its magnificent and aged trees. There are also walks to the church and lake and through the 500 acres of woods
  • Felbrigg Hall is two miles SW of Cromer with the entrance off B1436, signposted from A148 and A140
  • The house re-opens for visitors on 25 March, 2006

The beautiful interiors of Felbrigg Hall near Cromer are being splashed across cinema screens in A Cock And Bull Story, released on Friday 20 January, 2006.

Nearly every room in the 17th century National Trust property was used in the film which has an all-star cast including Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Stephen Fry and the X-Files' Gillian Anderson.

"I think they chose Felbrigg because they were looking for an 18th century house and Felbrigg Hall sat in exactly the period they wanted," said Felbrigg property manager Ray Sandham.

"We had a visit from a location manager who fell in love with it and then we had a visit from Michael Winterbottom himself. He thought it was a perfect set for what he wanted and then filming started quickly afterwards," he added.

A Cock And Bull Story is a post-modern take on the making of the notoriously un-filmable English literature masterpiece The Life And Opinions Of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne.

The filming took place during October 2004 and preparations included the removal and safe storage of some of the 18th century furniture which is usually on display.

Dining in candlelight at Felbrigg Hall
Dining in candlelight at Felbrigg Hall

While regular visitors to Felbrigg may recognise the Chinese bedroom, drawing room and library in the film -  the dining room will look a little different.

For the first time in more than a century, the room was candlelit. Candles were placed in front of the pier glasses, which is how they would originally have been used in order to create more light in the dining room.

Location, location, location

Norfolk is a regular location base for the film industry, often facilitated through the work of Screen East, an organisation dedicated to promoting the east of England as an ideal area for film and television production.

Die Another Day, Shakespeare In Love, The Lost Prince, Life Begins, Holby City and EastEnders are among many other feature films and high-end TV dramas to have been shot in the county.

"Film and TV producers are making the most of Norfolk's staggering diversity and great beauty," said Screen East's Hayley Morgan.

"From high clay cliffs and remote marsh coastlands, to the silt expanses of the Wash and the wide, white sandy beaches - Norfolk has much to lure the filmmaker," she added.

It's not just stately homes like Felbrigg that make great film locations, Screen East is always scouting for new venues and you could have just what they're looking for.

"If you're based in the East of England you can register your property with us as a potential film location," said Hayley Morgan.

Crew of Cock And Bull Story at Felbrigg Hall
A break in the filming at Felbrigg

"There's no restriction on the type of property that a film or TV production might be looking for - locations can be residential or commercial, rural or urban, empty or occupied," she added.

Star spotting

At Felbrigg Hall, having a major film in production was a great experience for staff and visitors.

"I think many people were quite intrigued by what was going on and it actually made their visit more enjoyable," said Ray Sandham.

"Most visitors were quite keen to do a bit of star spotting – looking for Gillian Anderson, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.

"It brought an additional dimension to a visit to Felbrigg Hall. Some visitors even managed to get a small 'starring' role when the production team were filming the present-day scenes," he added.

A Cock And Bull Story went on general release on Friday 20 January, 2006.

last updated: 07/06/06
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