Arniston House Hollywood star bid

Friday September 14th 2018

Arniston House

Written by Marie Sharp, Local Democracy Reporter

An historic house which featured in the blockbuster movie Churchill could give its Hollywood career a boost by the creation of parking facilities for film crews beside its old servant quarters.

Arniston House, in Midlothian, was used for the movie, starring Brian Cox and Miranda Richardson, with crews spending a week on the estate.

The Georgian mansion with its sprawling grounds has been owned by the Dundas family for nearly 450 years and current owner Althea Dundas-Bekker has dedicated 50 years to restoring the house which she and her late husband inherited in 1970.

Her daughter Henrietta Dundas is estates manager and is looking to secure the future of the estate by building on its movies success and making it more appealing to future film crews.

She has applied for planning permission to create a visitors’ car park and hardstanding area for crews to set up and bring 20 tonne lorries onto the grounds.

And she has outlined plans to line the car park itself with gravel which copies the type quarried from the estate and used to line driveways “several hundred years ago”.

The planned site of the new parking areas is beside the kitchen wing of the house and will take advantage of 250-year-old trees which were planted at the time to screen the servants areas from the view of the main house itself.

Nick Haynes, a historic building consultant brought in by the estate, said: “The proposed location is screened on three sides by mature trees and to the south by the service range of the kitchen wing.

The trees are historic, some dating back to at least 1750, and intended from the outset to screen the ancillary kitchen activities and buildings from the main house and pavilions.

“The site is therefore largely invisible.”

In a modern twist the new car park will include six electric car charging points.

Henrietta Dundas has applied for planning permission from Midlothian Council for the changes to the estate.

She said: “In order to pass on the guardianship of Arniston to the next generation of my family and to share this very special place with the wider community it is essential we prosper with integrity.”

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