Is Mothering Sunday Based on a True Story? Where Was it Filmed?

Eva Husson’s romantic film ‘Mothering Sunday’ revolves around Jane Fairchild, a maid who works for the Nivens. On a Mothering Sunday, Jane meets her wealthy lover Paul Sheringham, with whom she has been having an illicit affair. The British period film progresses through the consequences of Jane’s secret relationship with Paul, which affects the course of Jane’s life beyond her expectations.

The film depicts a moving tale set against the backdrop of post-World War I, which is further enhanced by the scenic sites. So, one must be wondering about the real-life origins of the narrative and the locations where the movie was shot. On that note, here’s everything you need to know about the same!

Is Mothering Sunday Based on a True Story?

No, ‘Mothering Sunday’ is not based on a true story. Alice Birch’s screenplay is based on the eponymous novel written by renowned writer Graham Swift. Although the characters and their storylines are fictional, Swift’s novel explores the aftermath of the First World War. Director Eva Husson uses the fictionality of the novel – especially the life of Paul – to depict the severity of the Great War’s impact on the individuals who survived it.

In an interview with Deadline, actor Josh O’Connor spoke about the foundation of his character Paul. He said, “You’re looking at a young man who is surrounded by almost his entire generation having been wiped out in the First World War, and I suppose the big theme for me was always survivor guilt and what the psychology of that was, and combining that with this British sense of stiff upper lip and repression of emotion.”

The relationship between Jane and Paul – which is the core of the film – is also heavily influenced by the impact of World War I. “Everyone was in grief mode for what just happened. A lot of men had just disappeared; children and partners and future fathers. What a collective sense of loss and shock. So no wonder that when you find a connection like Paul finds with Jane, you lose yourself,” Husson told MPA. She continued, “Feeling safe is one of the most precious things in life. It’s naive to think that moment will translate to all of life, but it is essential and no one can take that away from her or from him.”

The film’s real-life connections don’t end with First World War. To depict the class system that prevailed in England in the 1920s, director Husson depended on the diaries of servants. The accounts helped her translate the struggles of Jane impeccably. “They [the accounts] were chilling — the absence of empathy of the [upper] classes. You had good employers and people who were very decent but you also had those who were absolutely atrocious…For someone like Jane, with her intelligence and the instinct to survive, the connection with Paul is meaningful enough to keep her going and nourishes her despite all the tragic things,” added Husson.

Therefore, ‘Mothering Sunday’ is a fictional tale that offers an intriguing and captivating look at one of the most tumultuous periods in England’s history. Swift’s novel and Husson’s cinematic interpretation of the same feature a group of fictional characters and their engrossing lives, which cannot be entirely separated from reality. Keeping that in mind, it is understandable why someone might think that the film is based on actual events.

Mothering Sunday Filming Locations

‘Mothering Sunday’ was filmed in its entirety in England, specifically in Henley-on-Thames, London, and a few other English sites. According to reports, the principal photography of the film commenced on September 18, 2020, and concluded on November 10, 2020. Now, let’s dive into the details about the filming locations.

Henley-on-Thames, England

The filming of ‘Mothering Sunday’ chiefly took place in Henley-on-Thames. The town on the River Thames in Oxfordshire lies 37 miles west of London. A house at St Mark’s Road was used as a major filming location. The scenes that feature the fictional town of Titherton were filmed in Hambleden, a village three miles northeast of Henley-on-Thames.

The red-brick and stone houses in the region succeed in enhancing the visual appeal of the film. The churchyard and nearby grounds of St Mary’s Church feature in the period drama as well. In addition, a few sequences were lensed at Rotten Row Farm.

London, England

London, the capital and largest city of England, is another significant location that features in the movie. The city is situated on the River Thames, offering enchanting views of the river along with an astounding cityscape. Recognized as one of the global cities, London is a renowned entertainment production center. Over the years, it has hosted the filming of productions like ‘London Has Fallen,’ ‘Bridgerton,’ ‘Atlanta,’ and many more.

Other Locations in England

Hampton Estate, a 2250-acre estate located in Farnham, Surrey, appears in the movie as well. The estate comprises captivating parkland, scenic meadows, and enthralling woodlands, making it an ideal filming location. Wormsley, a private estate located in Stokenchurch, Buckinghamshire, is another fascinating site that was used for filming. The estate consists of approximately 1,000 acres of open grassland and 1,500 acres of woodland. A few scenes were also lensed at Bluebell Railway in Sussex. In addition, filming of the movie seemingly took place around Cliveden House in Maidenhead, Berkshire.

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