Last Updated on 20th January 2021 by Sophie Nadeau
Hands down, one of the best films I watched in 2018 was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. As its name would suggest, the story is based on the channel island of Guernsey. However, the WWII timeline of the plot meant that the island is now too ‘modernised’ for filming, meaning that the South West of England was chosen instead. Here’s a guide to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Filming Locations.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Based on a book of the same name by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (purchase a copy of the book for yourself here), the film encompasses many aspects you would expect from a historical drama set in the post-war period; intrigue, drama, plenty of travel, and a heartbreaking storyline.
Set between London and the island of Guernsey in 1946 (with flashbacks to Nazi-occupied Guernsey), just a year after the end of WWII, the plot follows the story of a young writer, Juliet Ashton, based in London (played by Lily James in the movie) as she exchanges letters with the residents of Guernsey. Eventually, she visits the island and begins to learn what life was like during the occupation of Guernsey.
Clovelly, North Devon
Most shots of Guernsey Harbour were actually filmed in the postcard-perfect Northern Devon village of Clovelly (pictured above), some two hundred miles away from Guernsey. For the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society film, Clovelly Harbour was transformed to appear as if it was still the 1940s.
This included plenty of suitcases, posters, signs, and lobster pots (though you’ll still see lobster pots in the harbour should you opt to visit today). The harbour itself dates back to the 17th-century and is currently home to the Red Lion Pub, an inn dating back to the 18th-century.
For the American Dakota Aircraft Landing landing scene, the pretty beach of Saunton Sands was used. As well as being the filming location for a horse and carriage scene, the A Douglas C-47 Dakota aircraft took off and landed on the sandy stretch.
If you want to visit the beach for yourself, then Saunton Sands can be found close to the village of Saunton and lies close to the River Taw estuary. Popular for surfing, the three-mile-long sands lie in front of the Braunton Burrows UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
For the scenes portraying Nazi-occupied Guernsey, Buttgarden Street in Bideford was used. For the film, shopfronts were transformed to appear like the 1940s, while military vehicles were brought in for the film set. Bideford itself is Located in North Devon and situated on the River Torridge. This historic port town has changed little over the past few decades. Today, Bideford is popular among tourists.
Hartland Abbey Estate
Also situated along the beautiful North Devon coastline, the sprawling estate of Hartland Abbey was used as a filming location. Previously, the estate was used to film some scenes from the Night Manager. Spots used for the Guernsey movie included various locations along the coastline between Hartland Quay and St. Catherine’s Tor and spots close to Hartland Abbey and Blackpool Mill.
Of particular note is that the beginning scene, where some of the film’s main characters are stopped and questioned by the Gestapo patrol at night (a scene that ultimately sees the beginnings of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society) was also filmed on the Hartland Abbey estate.
Princes Wharf, Bristol
In order to depict Weymouth Harbour in 1946, the Princes Wharf in Bristol was used. Although the harbour at Weymouth is incredibly pretty and worth a visit, the Princes Wharf was ultimately chosen as the historic harbour encapsulates what it might have been like in post-war Britain that bit better.
For those scenes that simply couldn’t be created somewhere in the UK, Ealing Studios were used. The studios were first started as early as 1902 when Will Barker bought the White Lodge on Ealing Green for the purpose of filmmaking. Today, the studios have 5 stages, all of varying sizes.