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The Holiday. I love this movie and especially this time of year.  It highlights my two favorite fantasy locations–England and LA.  England, because, well, you know, it’s just so British, and LA because it is so entirely different and exotic in its own way from the east coast location where I grew up and lived most of my life.

‘The Holiday’ brings together the star talents of Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law and Jack Black in a charming romantic comedy with an international twist. The plot revolves around two women who swap houses for Christmas with the idea of escaping from their current lives and romantic problems.

Much of the English side of the story was shot in the village of Shere in Surrey, a quintessentially English village with antiques shops, tea rooms and several excellent pubs. The other Surrey town of Godalming also stars and is well worth a visit for its fine architecture, independent shops and peaceful riverside setting.

Wikipedia image


Church Street

Church Street, image from Godalming Guide

There is a wonderful blog called “Hooked on Houses” that goes into lots of detail about the two houses featured in The Holiday and even has a poll that talks about which of the two her readers prefer.  Thank you Julie.  It is still a fun read.

Here is Iris’s house in England (which was actually just a shell of the cottage built near an empty field for the movie set)


building the cottage 1

building the cottage 4

And here is Amanda’s house set in the movie at a Brentwood section of LA.

(actually the exterior shots of the house showing the gated property were filmed in front of Southern California architect Wallace Neff‘s Mission Revival house in San Marino, a suburb adjacent to Pasadena. Neff had built the house for his family in 1928.) Other Los Angeles locations included Arthur’s house in Brentwood and Miles’ house, designed by Richard Neutra, which is situated on Neutra Place in L.A.’s Silver Lake area, near downtown. The interiors were all shot at Sony Studio. But I digress.

The thing I find so interesting about this movie is how Iris’s house and location reflect such unique characteristics of the English way of life…the narrow roads (which still can scare the wits out of an American driver), the houses that simply don’t have enough heat when it is always cold and damp (not really), the interiors of many of the houses with every square inch covered with some kind of pattern or books or collectables. Then there is the local village and pub that is the center of life. We have yet to visit a village where we did not seek out the best pub to get a read on the true character of the area.

The movie is a fun time, if a bit light on the true cultural differences, but it does make the point beautifully that as different as we are, we are really just the same. I could have told you that, but not nearly with such charm.