Insurer warns of 'Saltburn effect' if stately homes allow filming on grounds

 (Courtesy of Prime)
(Courtesy of Prime)

A leading heritage insurance firm warned owners of historic properties about the potential risks of allowing filming on their grounds, highlighting what it calls the "Saltburn effect".

Drayton House in Northamptonshire, owned by Charles Stopford Sackville, became a filming location for the movie Saltburn due to a generous fee, which Mr Sackville admitted was the deciding factor.

However, the film's popularity led to a flood of selfie-taking trespassers after TikTok videos giving directions to the estate went viral.

Ecclesiastical, the specialist insurer, has now provided detailed guidance to help property owners avoid similar issues.

They warn that unwelcome or excessive visitors are just one of many potential consequences of agreeing to be a film location.

The insurer also highlights risks such as breakages or damage, disputes over location limits and possible reputational harm (Saltburn featured several sexually explicit scenes).

The insurer points to Netflix’s period drama Bridgerton, the third series of which returned this week, having been filmed at several grand locations including Castle Howard in Yorkshire and Ranger’s House in Greenwich.

Nicola Coughlan, who plays Penelope Featherington in the series, revealed that she and her co-star Luke Newton accidentally broke a piece of furniture while filming an intimate scene, though she did not specify if it was an historic item.

Breakages most commonly occur during the setup or takedown of filming sets, according to the insurer.

They said that on the first day of filming Downton Abbey at Highclere Castle in Hampshire, a turquoise chest belonging to the Countess of Carnarvon was knocked over and broken, requiring repair at Sotheby’s.

The guidance warns: “Sensitivity of the subject or theme and nature of the filming is something that should feature in the very earliest of considerations, and ideally from the outset during the initial approach.”

While the net result can often be extremely positive, “there could also be an unexpected association with your property.”

In the case of Saltburn, which includes scenes of graphic sex and murder and ends with Barry Keoghan dancing naked around its grand rooms, the owner of Drayton House appeared relaxed about the content.

He told the Daily Mail: “There are bits I liked and bits I wouldn’t necessarily have put in myself.”