The Flete Estate has become an established film location set and is known to millions of people worldwide through the popular films and television dramas that have been shot here over the years. With its plethora of unchanged locations, it is still a first choice for film Location Scouts and Directors alike.
The first film shot on location on the Flete Estate was International Velvet in 1978 and featured Mothecombe Beach and Holbeton Village. It is a film which secured Mothecombe in the hearts of many fans and to this day families come and stay with us bringing their horses to recreate the famous scenes on the beach!
The film for which the Flete Estate will probably be remembered most is Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility filmed in 1995 with an all-star cast including Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman among many other famous faces. Efford House was used as the Dashwoods humble dwelling ‘Barton House’ and still has the famous view of the Erme Estuary and Saltmarshes seen throughout the film.
The television adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca was filmed in 1997 with Charles Dance and Emilia Fox leading the cast. The ‘Beach House’ erected on Mothecombe Beach for the filming washed away in the very high Spring tides despite the warnings of the locals and had to be rebuilt above the tide line.
The Estate has been the backdrop of many other films & television series including Hornblower in 1997, episodes of Poirot and Jonathan Creek to name but a few, and our holiday cottage guests have a lot of fun location spotting their favourite shows and films around the Estate.
Being privately owned means that the Flete Estate is a fantastic film location option as there is a diverse landscape with many interesting features and period focal points. Starting with Mothecombe Beach – it is possible to have exclusive access to the beach for filming on certain days and has unusual features including the Beach House set into the cliffs, the Boat House of which there are images dating from 1880. There is also a sentry pill box from the First World War and the bombed out seawater swimming pool. Further up the Estuary is Pamflete Beach, where there is a lime kiln on each side of the river and an artificial salmon run.
Architectural gems on the Estate include the Old School Teahouse which was the original school for Mothecombe Village and has remained unchanged over the centuries. The thatched cottages of Mothecombe Village are picturesque and have been used in a number of films, but most memorably in the film Jessie, which starred Nanette Newman and was written in 1980 for her by her husband, director Bryan Forbes as she loved Mothecombe so much and had happy childhood memories of visiting her Aunt who lived in the village.
Mothecombe House is a Queen Anne style house with Victorian additions, later remodelled inside and out by Sir Edwin Lutyens. As well as a formal walled garden with classic herbaceous borders, there is a bog garden with prehistoric looking giant Gunnera plants lining the pond overlooked by a rustic treehouse. The Coastal Paths leading from Mothecombe Beach have far reaching views over beaches and cliffs including a tidal bathing pool, smugglers cave and secluded beaches. Efford House is iconic for its appearance in Sense & Sensibility with stunning estuary views of the saltmarshes. The Victorian Alms houses in Holbeton Village remain unchanged in appearance since they were built, with the date picked out in the cobbles of the path outside. Flete House was renovated in 1800's and its ornate interiors and exteriors as well as its fabulous setting of Flete Park have made it a popular choice as a film location. It has recently portrayed Chequers in the recent TV film 'The Comic Strip Presents' with Jennifer Saunders and Stephen Mangan.
Our Artist in Residence, Shelley Castle shares her thoughts on Devon's Spring flowers.
The Flete Estate Office,
Haye Farm, Holbeton,
Telephone: 01752 830234