The Saltburn effect: Guidance published for filming at heritage properties

Ecclesiastical publishes new guidance for heritage sites help with managing the risks of hosting TV and film productions.

New guidance has been published for heritage property owners who are planning to welcome a production company onto their grounds.

The UK’s historic houses have been the backdrop for TV shows and films including Lyme Park House in Pride and Prejudice and Highclere Castle in Downton Abbey, and more recently Bridgerton and Saltburn.

A new filming in heritage properties guide has been published by Ecclesiastical Insurance to
help property managers consider the risks of allowing film crews through their doors.

The company wants that while the success of a popular production can cause a location to become a tourist hotspot, this is not always a positive.

The owner of Drayton House in Lowick, in Northamptonshire, which was used as the fictitious Saltburn mansion in the production, recently complained of visitors to the property trespassing in the grounds.

Ecclesiastical also warns of accidents on set, pointing to a reported incident at Highclere Castle, the set of Downton Abbey, in which a turquoise chest belonging to the Countess of Carnarvon was reportedly knocked onto the floor and broken.

Laura Carter, customer segment director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said: “Shows such as Bridgerton and Downton Abbey have really showcased our country’s incredible heritage buildings on an international scale and that has to be something to celebrate. It brings with it potential financial reward, including an influx of visitors, and can really boost the profile of a stately home or visitor attraction.

“However, as we saw with the response to Saltburn, there can be pitfalls in letting your heritage property be used for filming and that’s why we’ve launched this guidance.

“We aren’t telling property owners to say “no” to production crews, instead we’re giving them the advice they need to make the best decision and take the necessary steps needed to protect themselves.”

The guidance includes:

  • Contact your insurance provider ahead of agreeing to filming to make sure that appropriate cover is in place
    Ensuring contracts are in place to protect all parties which are tailored to the premises and cover any and all unique features
  • Collating detailed records of the building’s condition in the areas that may be used for filming
    Being aware of any reputational impact that may come from hosting the filming – particularly if there are any controversial historic, political or societal impact issues
  • Putting in place all health and safety requirements to protect staff, crews and others on site during filming
    Potentially removing any high value or delicate items and placing in secure temporary storage, using specialist removal service providers in the process
  • With many of the UKs heritage properties having Listed status there are additional considerations to take into account when agreeing to filming on site, including protecting the finishes of the property, particularly any listed features, as well as any fabric of the property that could be damaged, such as paintwork.

The full guidance can be downloaded here