Despite being filmed in the middle of a global pandemic, The Pursuit of Love is outrageously good-looking – and makes excellent use of a huge number of locations, COVID be damned.
In Emily Mortimer’s BBC adaptation of the classic Nancy Mitford novel, you’ll see beautiful country estates, stately homes, posh hotels and university quads. You’ll see flower gardens, and ballrooms, and Paris streets. And you’ll see the adventures of Fanny Logan (Emily Beecham) and Linda Radlett (Lily James), two very different women who are in pursuit of love, marriage and happiness.
Here are the places you’ll see on screen, and the filming locations that were used.
Where was The Pursuit of Love filmed?
In short: most filming took place on location in the Bristol and Bath area, and on set at the nearby Bottle Yard Studios. Some scenes were also shot in Paris. The Pursuit of Love was filmed across three months in the summer of 2020.
Where was the Radletts’ Alconleigh estate filmed?
One of the key locations in The Pursuit of Love is the Radletts’ country estate at Alconleigh. Here, sadistic patriarch Matthew Radlett (Dominic West) rules over his family with an iron fist; the household includes his wife Sadie (Dolly Wells), daughter Linda (Lily James) and an assorted collection of children. Each Christmas, Fanny Logan (Emily Beecham) comes to stay with Uncle Matthew and Aunt Sadie – and it is through her eyes that we are first introduced to Alconleigh.
But the Alconleigh we see on screen is a bit of a hodgepodge, created for television using a variety of different country houses and specially-built sets.
Firstly, there’s Dyrham Park. This is a National Trust property, with a magnificent 17th century Baroque mansion set in ancient parkland. If it looks familiar, that might be because it has previously appeared in Remains of the Day, Sense and Sensibility (2008) and ITV’s Sanditon. A period drama superstar!
The Great Hall at Dyrham was transformed into a ballroom for two “coming out” balls: the one held in honour of Linda’s older sister Louisa, and the one for Fanny and Linda. In the first of those scenes, Andrew Scott makes his debut as Lord Merlin for a dream-like sequence involving silk pyjamas and contemporary dancers. In the second scene, dashing young student Tony Kroesig (Freddie Fox) turns up and sweeps Linda off her feet.
The Pursuit of Love’s production team also made the most of Dyrham Park by using it as a stand in for London’s Hyde Park (in the scene where Fanny and Davey take a walk together), and re-imagining the house’s “Plod Room” as a bookshop for episode two.
Anyway, back to Alconleigh! Because another property – Rousham House in Oxfordshire – was also used extensively to create that Alconleigh look.
Rousham House was built in 1635, and has been owned by the same family ever since. It has famous gardens, which are open to the public, but the house itself has rarely been seen on TV, so this is a real treat.
In addition, some interior sets were created at the Bottle Yard Studios in Bristol. Those include the Alconleigh bathroom, where the two cousins bathe and gossip – and the laundry cupboard where the children all gather to share family news.
Where did they film Lord Merlin’s home?
Wealthy and eccentric Lord Merlin (Andrew Scott) is an unusual neighbour to the Radletts, and he has his own estate called “Merlinford”.
The exteriors were created with the help of Badminton House in Gloucestershire, which has previously been seen (but from a different angle) in Bridgerton. The Dyrham Park gardens (see above) were used as a stand-in for Merlinford’s grounds, and many of the interiors were shot in the studio – not that you’d guess it, from the specially-built sets.
As a side note, Badminton House was also a small element of the patchwork used to create Alconleigh. You’ll see it when Matthew punishes Linda in episode one, and its grounds can be seen during hunting scenes and a swimming pool scene.
Which stately homes feature in The Pursuit of Love?
In addition to the above, other locations used to film the drama include Dinton Park, Phillips House and Stourhead House.
How did they film the railway station?
The National Trust says, “With support from Bath Film Office, the production team created a stunning period railway station inside Green Park Station, Bath’s former railway station.” This stood in for the Gare du Nord, in Paris.
Bitton, which is part of the Avon Valley Railway in South Gloucestershire, stood in for London Victoria.
Where did they film the Oxford scenes?
In the first episode, Linda and Fanny slip away to Christ Church College at the University of Oxford, planning to attend a party hosted by Tony Kroesig. Filming was originally meant to take place at Christ Church itself, but because of Covid this proved impossible.
Instead, the production team made use of Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire – as previously seen in Harry Potter, Wolf Hall and Pride and Prejudice.
Where did they film Linda’s London home?
The opening sequence features Cheyne Walk House, Linda Radlett’s London home – which, seconds later, is destroyed by a bomb. This scene was actually shot entirely on set at Bottle Yard Studios, and the London skyline was created with the help of CGI.
At another point in the story, Linda lives in London at Bryanston Square in Marylebone. The exteriors were shot in Bath, outside No 1 Royal Crescent Museum.
Did they film at the Ritz?
Speaking of Bath, the city’s famous Assembly Rooms also feature in The Pursuit of Love. You can see this location in shots of the foyer of the Ritz Paris, and the tea room of the Ritz London.
The Beverley Hills Hotel and the Ritz were also created with the help of studio sets.
Where did they film Fanny’s cottage?
In episode two, Fanny moves into an idyllic little house in Oxfordshire, with her husband Alfred – who is an academic at the University of Oxford. This was filmed with the help of the “Gardener’s Cottage” at Ston Easton Park.
Where did they film in Paris?
Part of the third episode is set in Paris, and this proved to be one of the hardest things to arrange in the time of Covid. Ultimately, all the Paris scenes had to be filmed in just two days.
Executive producer, Charles Collier told CN Traveller about filming at the Place Dauphine on the Ile de la Cité in the Seine: “It’s three street scenes and a café, shot around the square and the side streets coming off it.
“Then the shots of Linda walking along the river are the Quai des Orfèvres, at the end of the Ile de la Cité. That gave us a cracking view of Notre Dame, which was sadly no use to us at that moment.”
Want more show content? Discover all the modern and classical tunes featured on The Pursuit of Love soundtrack, or for a spoiler-free oversight of the series, you should read our The Pursuit of Love review.
The Pursuit of Love begins on Sunday 9th May 2021 at 9pm on BBC One, and continues on Sunday evenings. The three-part drama will also be available as a boxset on iPlayer. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our Drama coverage, or visit our TV Guide.