A seemingly inoffensive little film about post-war Guernsey and a writer who takes an interest in what it was like during the occupation has become the unlikely focus of a spat between the island and a Devon aristocrat. The trouble has arisen because the island of Guernsey is gleefully cashing in on the film, which has enraged the owner of Hartland Abbey in North Devon, where much of the filming took place. Some scenes were also shot in nearby Clovelly, a picturesque village famous for its steep main street leading down to a pretty harbour. The corner of North Devon featured in the film is missing out on its share of the publicity, hence the outrage.
So let’s take a look at the actual locations used in the film. Hartland Abbey is a former monastery dating from the 12th century, and it sits in beautiful grounds including glorious gardens. The present-day building bears no resemblance to the original monastery, the remains of which can be seen in the basement. As well as the Abbey itself, there are wonderful grounds to explore. This time of year is particularly good being bluebell time, as the woodland walk going down towards the sea is redolent with bluebells. Earlier in the year the Abbey holds a ‘Daffodil Day’ to celebrate the appearance of the yellow lovelies.
Hartland Abbey. Photo by PJMarriott, via Wikimedia Commons
Clovelly is a privately owned village, which unfortunately means having to pay an entrance fee to go in. However, the fee does include parking, and it would be a shame to miss out on this delightful place when visiting the area. On the way down you pass the Donkey Stables, donkeys being longstanding feature of the village, having been used in the past to transport fish from the harbour. The writer Charles Kingsley, author of The Water Babies, used to live in the village, and there is a museum dedicated to him. For refreshment there are a couple of pubs and some tea rooms, or at the top next to the entrance area there is a cafe with wonderful views along the North Devon coast.
Clovelly Harbour. Photo by Franzphoto, via Wikimedia Commons
Other North Devon locations which feature in the film include the nearby town of Bideford and Saunton Sands, which was used for a scene in which a Dakota aircraft comes in to land.
Map of Clovelly.