An English Country House in “Death at a Funeral”

by hookedonhouses on March 8, 2010

Death at a Funeral-house

For the 2007 British farce Death at a Funeral, director Frank Oz says it was important to find the perfect English Country house where the family and friends would gather. Luckily, the first one they saw was this ivy-covered home in Henley, an hour outside London, and it was so beautiful, he says, that they knew they didn’t have to look any further.

living room 1

The movie, written by Dean Craig, is about the people who come together for a funeral service. Daniel is in charge of organizing his father’s memorial, but his efforts to keep things dignified and respectful are in vain. Things start off badly when the funeral home delivers the wrong dead body to the house and go downhill from there.

living room 3

It’s a farce, so there’s lots of wackiness and unexpected turns of events, but I was busy staring at the sets. Frank Oz says that the interior of the house in Henley wouldn’t work for the movie, so they built the sets on a soundstage at Ealing Studios (London).

Daniel and his brother stash another body in the casket with their dad as a last resort (it’s a long story):

living room 4

Michael Howells was the production designer. He also worked on movies like Emma (1996) and Nanny McPhee.

living room 5

Daniel giving the eulogy for his father:

living room 6

A question for my U.K. readers: Is it common to hold funerals at home like this? Or is this just a movie thing?

living room 7

view of living room-overhead

Jane Asher plays the widow, Sandra:

living room-window seat

When I first saw the movie, I knew I had seen the actor who played Daniel somewhere, but I couldn’t quite place him. It was driving me nuts. Then it hit me–

hallway 2

It was Matthew Macfadyen–the actor who played Darcy in one of my favorite Austen films, Pride & Prejudice! He looked so different and played such a meek and nervous character in Death at a Funeral that he was practically unrecognizable as the same person.

Here’s how Macfadyen looked in P&P:

Matthew Macfadyen as Darcy

The woman who plays Daniel’s wife Jane is Keeley Hawes. Macfadyen and Hawes are also married in real life, and they were expecting a baby boy during filming.

Matthew Macfadyen and Keeley Hawes

I really liked how they hung the artwork up the stairs:

stairs

Upstairs in the bedroom, where Daniel and Jane are getting ready for the funeral:

guest room 1

This is one of the only rooms that are actually in the house in Henley (not a set).

guest room 2

The upstairs hallway:

upstairs hallway

Daniel takes Peter (played by Peter Dinklage) into his father’s study to talk. Peter has a bombshell he’s about to drop on him.

Dad's Study

Frank Oz says that the script called for a “regular height person,” but he thought Dinklage was the perfect actor for the part. (He was also great in movies like Elf and as Liz Lemon’s love interest on “30 Rock” recently.) He’ll reprise the role in the upcoming American version of the movie with Chris Rock in role of Daniel.

Death at a Funeral movie poster-2010 version

Why on earth they think we need an American version only 3 years after the original came out, I have no idea. Especially since the original didn’t do all that well at the box office here. (Current release date is June 2010.)

Death at a Funeral-exterior window

I love this garden shed or whatever it was behind the main house. Several scenes take place on the covered porch:

garden shed

I wish I had gotten a good photo of Rupert Graves, who plays Daniel’s brother Robert, a successful novelist who has flown back from New York City for the funeral. Graves played Freddy Honeychurch in one of my favorite movies–A Room With a View.

back of house

You can see more photos from the movie at Sweet Sunday Morning. I was so wowed when I saw the house on her site that I had to see the movie. (I used a couple of her screen shots, too. The rest I took myself while watching the film.)

P.S. Did you watch the Oscars last night? I stayed up late to see it all and then overslept this morning. Oops! If you missed my fun quiz about Oscar-nominated movie houses, take it here.

Visit my TV/Movie Houses page for links to all the others I’ve featured, from Housesitter (another Frank Oz film!) to The Family Stone.

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black eyed susans kitchen March 8, 2010 at 8:32 am

Julia, This was such a funny movie…I remember looking all over the house while watching it….the decor, the accessories, there was a lot of eye candy…and the grounds of the house…maybe I was meant to have a country estate.
?, Susan
.-= black eyed susans kitchen´s last blog ..ART ALUMINUM… WENDELL AUGUST FORGE… A SAD DAY =-.

LoveFeast Table March 8, 2010 at 8:47 am

I seriously think wisteria makes almost any house look inviting!
.-= LoveFeast Table´s last blog ..Bloggy Bootcamp in Baltimore =-.

Katie March 8, 2010 at 9:06 am

That is beautiful! Even though there is a casket in the middle of the room. But, law, it kinda works…
.-= Katie´s last blog ..It All Starts With One Tiny Little Crack In The Wall… =-.

Jane March 8, 2010 at 9:44 am

This was a f-u-n-n-y movie with a wonderful cast.

Becky @ Farmgirl Paints March 8, 2010 at 10:03 am

Little formal for me…but the outside is uber charming.
.-= Becky @ Farmgirl Paints´s last blog ..Special somethings… =-.

Pamela Rosenberg March 8, 2010 at 10:09 am

I enjoyed hearing that you often miss the plot or story line because you are looking at the house. I just said the same thing in my last post. Thank heavens for Tivo and DVD’s that you can zip back, freeze frame and study to our hearts content.
Thanks for sharing
Pam
.-= Pamela Rosenberg´s last blog ..Spaces That Inspire or The House of Sally =-.

Donna Good March 8, 2010 at 10:09 am

i will have to see this movie!

Donna Good March 8, 2010 at 10:10 am

oh and is just saw An Enchanted April…great villa there too!

RichSpen March 8, 2010 at 10:15 am

A question for my U.K. readers: Is it common to hold funerals at home like this? Or is this just a movie thing?

In my experience this is a movie thing. Usually a crematorium, sometimes a church, occasionally both, church first. These days the nearest the coffin gets to the house is when the hearse arrives and everyone gets into cars and follows the hearse to the crematorium or the church. Although these days this is, I think, becoming less common because of not wanting to advertise the fact that the house is empty because everyone has gone to the funeral, burglars’ invitation. Funeral Directors will, for a fee, arrange security at the house. Certainly for my parent’s funerals the hearse, on each occsion, was met at the crematorium gates and only followed up the drive.

hookedonhouses March 8, 2010 at 10:25 am

RichSpen–
Thanks for clearing that up! -Julia

Cori Heffernan March 8, 2010 at 10:40 am

What a great house! I missed this movie, I think I need to go to my library today!

Mike March 8, 2010 at 11:26 am

Like most British comedies that are re-made into American versions, I have no doubt the new one with Chris rock will suck. Yes, I said it. :-)

Death at a Funeral is hilarious. An absolute gem of a movie. I cannot imagine how badly it will be remade.

Lesley @ The Design File March 8, 2010 at 12:03 pm

I haven’t seen the movie but this makes me want to check it out!
.-= Lesley @ The Design File´s last blog ..Beautiful, modern nursery in an urban condo =-.

Tracy @ Comfort&Luxury March 8, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Thanks for this one, Julia. This was such a fun movie but what I most remembered about the house were the bathroom and the roof! It’s nice to get a look at the prettier parts again.
.-= Tracy @ Comfort&Luxury´s last blog ..Sunny Mood Board Monday =-.

Jane F @ Atticmag March 8, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Now this is my kind of house! I never saw the film but Netflix here I come. Thanks for the fun, Julia.
.-= Jane F @ Atticmag´s last blog ..Retro Cottage Green Kitchen =-.

Amanda @ Serenity Now March 8, 2010 at 12:59 pm

I DID watch the Oscars last night, and I thought Sandra Bullock looked gorgeous!! I also liked Cameron Diaz’ gown…she sometimes makes some odd choices, so this one was fab…in my opinion. :)

I love the wall color in that first shot of the interior!
.-= Amanda @ Serenity Now´s last blog ..Signs of Spring: Easy Blueberry Streusel Muffins =-.

Jessica at LAvender and Lilies March 8, 2010 at 1:11 pm

I featured that house several months ago and I just love it. It’s so English Country. Great post.
.-= Jessica at LAvender and Lilies´s last blog ..The Picks =-.

Jenny C. March 8, 2010 at 1:35 pm

I had the same challenge recognizing Matthew MacFadyen when I saw “Death at a Funeral” — how did I know him? I had to google the cast of the movie to finally figure it out. And then, of course, I swooned. Pride and Prejudice is my favorite movie. He was fabulous in it. But, like you, I didn’t even realize it was the same guy. Love him more as Mr. Darcy.

The Zhush March 8, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Have never heard of this movie…or of having a funeral in the house…which seems really unappealing. But, the house itself is amazing!
.-= The Zhush´s last blog ..The Essence of Nostalgia =-.

Valerie March 8, 2010 at 2:29 pm

I love the exteriors on this movie.

I just watched Pride and Prejudice last week. Mathew Macfadyen did such an excellent job as Mr. Darcy. Here is a comic about Mr. Darcy written by a very funny woman. Enjoy

http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=120
.-= Valerie´s last blog ..99 Things =-.

Mom in High Heels March 8, 2010 at 2:33 pm

I love this movie! LOVE IT! I checked it out because it had Matthew McFadyen (swoon) and Alan Tudyk, who I would watch stand on stage and read a phone book.
I can’t believe they are doing a remake. WHY? WHY? WHY? I’m sure it will be all slapstick and lack all the subtle dark humor of the original. Also, there will be no Matthew McFadyen.
.-= Mom in High Heels´s last blog ..Giveaway!!!! =-.

Anna March 8, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Hi – I’m from Ireland and here it is still quite common to bring the body to the house the night before the funeral so that people can come and say their respects. The body is either laid out in the coffin in the main living room or sometimes it is laid out in the bed in the bedroom. I have only been to one funeral at a funeral home, and this was because the person who died was being buried in a different town to the one he was living in before he died. Also, I might add that when I was younger, I was on an exchange with a family in France and one day, while I was school, the Grandfather died. They weren’t able to tell me before I came home and walked into the guest room I was using to find his body in my bed. It was terrible!! I got such a fright and then I had to go and stay with another family and never saw those people again!

Tricia Rose March 8, 2010 at 4:19 pm

I think the garden shed thingey is an arbour (spelt the English way). It doesn’t fit ‘pergola’, I think a ‘veranda’ is part of a house while this is part of an outbuilding, and ‘lean-to’ doesn’t do it justice. Whatever it is I want one.
.-= Tricia Rose´s last blog ..Home =-.

Kim March 8, 2010 at 4:22 pm

I love this house. I might just have to see this movie. I wonder if the ivy attracts bugs or insects. Lets hope not.

greenie March 8, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Exterior is beautiful!
This house has my parents written all over it. They are obsessed anglophiles and this house looks tailor-made for them.

Marcy March 8, 2010 at 10:45 pm

Julia, this is what I found about having a funeral at home: “Years ago back in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s it wasn’t unheard of for loved ones to have their funeral services at their own home. Many church parsonages were in homes and that is where the term or name “funeral home” came to be.”

We had my husband’s grandmother’s casket in her home. It was a small, intimate gathering of family and friends the day before we had the funeral at the church.

In older houses (with narrow stairways) there is often a “coffin corner” which is a niche to create enough space for the coffin to turn to get it down the stairs. I’ve read that that’s a myth, but have been on house tours that have referred to it.

Maybe more than you wanted to know!

Marcy

The quote is from here: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/375856/choosing_to_have_your_loved_ones_funeral.html?cat=12
.-= Marcy´s last blog ..Blog Star… Twice Remembered =-.

Katie September 6, 2010 at 8:12 am

The “coffin corner” IS a myth! Don’t believe everything you hear on house tours: take it from me I’m head guide at a house museum. Stories like these often start with one tour guide who comes up with a spurious but fun answer to a visitor’s question. The story gets passed from guide to guide and house to house. These myths are virulent and very very hard to get rid of–people like them because they’re more fun than the truth. Other prevalent house myths include “fainting couches”, “closet taxes”, “petticoat mirrors”, “furniture is smaller because people were so much shorter back then”. Those niches in tight stairwells DID help in moving all kinds of furniture up & down the stairs, and served as attractive shelves for vases of flowers, etc. Generally, funerals & wakes were held in the public rooms of houses–on the lower levels. No need to haul a coffin up & down stairs except perhaps if you lived in a tenement house.

hookedonhouses September 6, 2010 at 8:23 am

Interesting! Thanks for clearing some things up, Katie. I was just on a house tour where I heard about the “closet taxes.” -Julia :-)

Carmen March 8, 2010 at 11:05 pm

I thought this movie was pretty darn funny. I remember loving the house and the grounds too. Mr. Darcy…I never even paid attention to that. Interesting.
.-= Carmen´s last blog ..Front Door Freshened Up =-.

Jess @ Frugal with a Flourish March 9, 2010 at 6:51 am

Love the art on the staircase and I just have a “thing” for ivy on houses! Sigh! Great recap!
.-= Jess @ Frugal with a Flourish´s last blog ..Mood Board Monday – Bright Whimsical Dining Area =-.

Mel Bourne March 9, 2010 at 6:26 pm

The outdoor structure is called a summer house, I think, or a gazebo.

They always remind me of the Sound of Music where Liesl sings “Sixteen going on seventeen” to her boyfriend.

E. George March 9, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Hi Julia – yes I watched the awards over here it was from 12pm to 4pm very long I needed a nap after that you poor girl. I have this movie but have not watched it as yet but now I’m going to have to it looks great I agree with you the art work looks good, I don’t know if you have seen a movie called The Wedding Date with Debra Messing it is filmed in the UK if you haven’t please give it a go because the country side and village is very beautiful. Regards Esther from a much cooler Sydney..

Janmary, N Ireland March 16, 2010 at 2:20 am

Yes – still a tradition here in N Ireland to have the coffin in the house, and either the main funeral service in the house, or a smaller private family service before leaving for the church/graveyard.

Never heard of this film – must look out for it.
.-= Janmary, N Ireland´s last blog ..Mothers Day Treats =-.

BlueDee August 19, 2010 at 1:53 am

OK … I’m officially through Googling for the location (City/State? Country? credits say was filmed in Culver City CA for studio work, but doesn’t list locations…) of the family home where the DAAF-2010 version was filmed. It is so lush and classic. I’m glad to have found your website – lots to pore over and enjoy – many thanks! Please post if you know locale of house in 2nd production. (BTW–I LIKED IT! The performances were great – and I think Dean Craig did an outstanding job of reworking his original screenplay to create an equally socially incorrect, yet Americanized version. I have to say could have done w/out the extreme graphic of Tracy Morgan/Danny Glover bathroom scene. YOIKS! Thanks much. [p.s. Peter Dinklage is amazing! I HEART PETER DINKLAGE!]

hookedonhouses August 19, 2010 at 8:09 am

I haven’t seen the remake yet but I heard some critics say they thought it was better than the original. I’ll have to watch it. Sometimes I can’t find out where a movie was filmed until the DVD comes out and there are special features or director commentary. Let’s hope they include that with this one! -Julia

Lauren (in PA) September 10, 2010 at 11:45 am

I love this movie, I love Matthew Macfayden, I love that version of P&P (though, truth be told, I wanted to not like it as I adore the Colin Firth version!)

Room With A View is my favorite movie of all time (and spent my college years pining for Rupert Graves), and I also love Enchanted April….I guess you’ve seen that too?

Love seeing both Matthew and Rupert in Miss Marples on PBS!

Sharron February 27, 2011 at 6:57 am

I love the house in the American version even better. Very dark but stunning wallpaper – its virtually the same movie plot with an American twist.

Resa July 18, 2012 at 6:46 pm

I love the UK version for the actors but really love the house in Chris Rock’s version. I do have a question and I hope someone can help, Is the house in Chris’ version a Frank Lloyd Wright house? Sure looks like One. Thanks!

Hazel August 22, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Hi, quite often the viewing of the body was in the home so that family and intimate friends could pay their last respects in privacy and a friendly setting. This happened with all of my grandparents. The undertakers then took the deceased to the church for the service. The interring of the body was for family only and about 5 invited guests. Mind you, this happened in villages not in a large city so it might be different there. I thought it was beautiful sending off a loved one from their own home.

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