Brit director Emerald Fennell’s latest film has already become a cult hit, thanks to its graphic sex scenes, captivating twists and stunning country house location, which has everyone asking the same thing: where was Saltburn filmed? The vast mansion which stands in as Felix Catton’s ancestral home is a real-life property – and one you can actually visit. Here’s everything you need to know about Drayton House, which provides the backdrop for the hit film.
Where was Saltburn filmed?
Emerald Fennell’s smash hit Saltburn, starring Jacob Elordi, Barry Keoghan, Rosamund Pike and Richard E Grant, was filmed in the 127-room Drayton House, a privately owned Baroque English manor in Northamptonshire. For the film, which centres around the young Oliver Quick (Keoghan), who is drawn into the beguiling world of the aristocratic Catton family after meeting their son Felix (Elordi) at Oxford University, Fennell was adamant that she wanted to find a house that had never featured on film. “[It] needed to be something that hadn’t been used before,” said Fennell of the location. “This hadn’t been photographed even, let alone put on film. We always wanted the exact sense that it is a real place.”
Though the film begins in Oxford, all the most memorable scenes take place at the fictional country estate of Saltburn, with the house providing the backdrop for raucous parties, shocking sex scenes and naked dances – not to mention that infamous bathtub scene.
Fennell was looking for one house that could serve as a single location for the entire film, and Drayton House ticked all the boxes. Located in the quiet village of Lowick, the house itself dates back to around 1328 and sits within a 200-acre estate dotted with feature pools and formal gardens.
Who lives at Drayton House?
Drayton House has been owned by the Stopford-Sackville family since 1770, and is currently inhabited by Charles Lionel Stopford-Sackville. The family are famously private and only agreed to let Fennell and her crew film there as long as its name was never mentioned on screen. The estate is usually closed to the public, which means you can’t just walk in and take a look around, but it is possible to arrange guided tours and private parties by appointment.
What changes were made at Drayton House to transform it into Saltburn?
The fact that Drayton House is privately owned actually played into Fennell’s hands, as it meant she and her team had a lot more creative freedom when it came to changing elements of the house. “Usually in National Trust and English Heritage properties you’re not allowed to paint anything or move pictures or augment or change anything,” said production designer Suzie Davies. “This family let us do quite a bit to the house and gave us free rein.”
Several changes were made to the house for the film: the shared bathroom connecting Felix and Oliver’s rooms was added in, with a bespoke fibreglass bath built to accommodate Elordi’s 6ft 5in frame, while the maze – which becomes one of the film’s focal points – was constructed just for filming purposes and dismantled when the crew left. The TV room that appears in the film is normally used as a breakfast room, and Davies was allowed to rip up the carpet, add silk panels and paint it a different colour to transform it.
Outside, the estate’s square pond, chapel and gardens were all used for filming, while the team also added a range of topiaries to the grounds. Furniture was brought in from Lots Road Auctions in London, as well as contemporary art and sculptures. Some of the modern artworks that you see in the film were created by the art department, but the team also got permission to reproduce pieces by artists including Ryan Mosley and Colin Harris. Meanwhile, film artist Jason Line was drafted into to create the portraits of the Catton family that can be seen throughout the house.
Not everything was added to make Saltburn look beautiful, though. Fennell was keen that the house have a lived-in feel, complete with ashtrays filled with cigarette butts, plates caked with leftovers and dirty clothes strewn around the boys’ bedrooms. As for the pivotal party scene, no expense was spared to create the debauched, hedonistic vibe. “We just went for it,” said Davies. “We had some music on and we had a riot dressing it. We planned it within an inch of its life, anyway. We had a team doing greens, a team doing sculptures, a team doing the nightclub. It was a crazy ride.”