Wednesday 24 Sep 2014
Lord Lawrence Hoxley is played by Nathaniel Parker (The Inspector Linley Mysteries, Bleak House) and is a man of contrasts.
He may be Lord of the Manor, but he dislikes formality and hierarchy. He'll play the part admirably – mainly to appease his wife – but he'll also be very at home chatting to a servant about any problems he or she might have on an equal level. Placid, easy-going and amiable – he's a friendly and approachable man.
He's a celebrated war hero from his time in the trenches in the Great War, but one with a dark secret.
After the war, Lawrence was feted as a hero and enjoyed life as a socialite moving in high circles. It was as a result of this that he met and fell in love with Lady Ellen. A whirlwind courtship ended in marriage and Lawrence adopted the title of Lord Hoxley and moved into the Manor House.
He was never a gold-digger – and at first genuinely loved Ellen. However, the marriage limped along and finally started to crumble – as they realised they were very different people.
Lawrence enjoys having the land girls around, ostensibly working for him. They add a touch of glamour to the farm, and he knows their names and likes it when they come to him with a particular problem. He is also particularly attracted to Nancy, and she to him, and as time passes they embark on an inevitable affair.
Nathaniel himself knew about the WLA before he got the part as he has a very good friend, Joyce, who was a land girl and milked cows in Dorset.
"She loved the milking of cows and was terribly proud that she got her medal last year, her brooch. Her eyes were welling up when I told her about this part, she was thrilled. So I know a little bit about it, I've read about it in the past, and I've always thought they were slightly unsung heroes, although I didn't sit down and read books about land girls."
Nathaniel finds the period fascinating and is nostalgic about it even though he wasn't there. He says the war broke down so many of the upstairs-downstairs barriers.
"It introduced people like these land girls to the aristocracy in a way, and vice versa, and they suddenly found themselves relying upon people. I have a lovely moment with Joyce played by Becci Gemmell where we're helping a horse, and we have this long conversation about where she comes from, where I come from and our backgrounds. You see that they are just people and they get on very well; they can work together and make the place better because of their relationship."
And he says there was an amazing sense of community during wartime: "There was the most extraordinary spirit and the land girls are the unsung epitomy of that spirit."
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