dyrham park

This is Dyrham Park, one of the great “stately homes” of rural Britain, located near the village of Dyrham in South Gloucestershire, England. If you’re  a movie buff you may recognize this building–which is usually viewed from the other side–as the manor that is called “Darlington Hall” in the wonderful 1993 film version of Kazuo Ishiguro’s iconic novel, Remains of the Day. The film starred Anthony Hopkins in possibly his finest role ever, as the butler James Stephens, opposite Emma Thompson as Miss Kenton. Remains of the Day is probably in the top three of my all time favorite movies.

The real-life Dyrham Park has a fascinating story that stretches across almost the entirety of British history since the Norman conquest. The land on which this manor now stands was recorded in the Domesday Book, the fearsome census compiled by William the Conqueror in 1086, twenty years after he set himself on the throne during the last successful foreign invasion of England. The land passed through various English nobles until in the 17th century it was purchased by the Blathwayte family, who built the present structure beginning in 1692. The present version of the house is decorated in 18th century (Georgian) style and features numerous treasures of Dutch art. The Blathwayte family lived there for nearly 300 years, finally leaving in 1956, when the manor was taken over by the British government.

Although the exterior of Dyrham Park doubles for “Darlington Hall,” the interiors of Remains of the Day were shot at various other sites in England, and on sets and sound stages. Nevertheless, the film is so perfectly made that you can’t tell what’s a set, what’s real, and what’s imagined.

Here is the trailer for Remains of the Day. In the early shots you can see Dyrham Park quite well.