Following Footsteps of Milo
Shakespeare: Dark Horse Goes to Grosmont

Hello all! Damianista here.

Dark Horse is one of the first, if not the first, fans that followed our Facebook page the day Fan Fun with Damian Lewis came to life almost four years ago. She wrote her brilliant story for our Fan Story Series, and is now an occasional contributor on Fan Fun! We are thrilled to have her today sharing with us a beautiful story about how she followed Milo Shakespeare’s footsteps in Grosmont, South Wales, the village where Gareth and Damian Lewis shot their killer comedy The Baker

Before we dive into Dark Horse’s wonderful road trip, I would love to share a few notes regarding the location choice for the film from the film’s production notes that I found a while ago online:

“Both Gareth and Damian spent a great deal of time in Wales when they were growing up, thanks to their patriotic Welsh father.

“I’m quite romantic about my Celtic roots,’ says Damian. “And although I went to school in England, grew up in London, we’ve always been made aware of Welsh roots by dad, who’s been very keen to stay in touch with his Welshness, even though he can’t speak more than five words of Welsh! It’s London-Welsh, I guess! But certainly some locations in the film come directly from the local villages and towns in West Wales near where we near where we live”.

“Not only did the shooting location have to carry the right quirky atmosphere, it also had to house some key buildings, a pub, a bakery, a village shop, a church, a village hall and, ideally, a fish-and-chip shop. “We started looking in West Wales, where Damian and Gareth grew up; they’re Welsh by way of Abbey Road…” says producer Adrian Sturges. “There were lots of pretty villages that were too small and many that were big but too busy. There was nothing in between, and no villages with chip shops.

In fact, the fish shop scenes were filmed in Cardiff, but still the filmmakers scoured the Welsh countryside looking closely at 12 different villages, and Grosmont, in South Wales, was the last one they saw. “We particularly liked a road in this village that’s called Poor Script Lane,” laughs Sturges, “which is a dead end. We’ve got a great photo of Gareth standing by that!”

The village had a pub, a town hall, church, shop, tea rooms that would serve as the bakery, plus it had a castle.

“Initially the big fighting sequence at the end of the movie was in a quarry but we changed it to a castle because of the castle being here,” says Sturges. In addition, Gareth wanted his village to feature a number of brightly coloured houses, wanting his movie to have a certain texture to reflect the quirky comedy. “Billy Wilder is a massive influence and so is Jeunet; Delicatessen is a big influence,” Gareth says. “The basic palette in our movie is taken from Degas, very pastel, and it’s a great palette for comedy, the greens, red and soft colours; it all feels great. It works on Amelie, with all its greens and reds.”

And here is our own Dark Horse giving us a unique flavor of Grosmont in the footsteps of Lewis Brothers! ENJOY!

Before I start another Damian-related story, let me set the scene… I am a petrolhead, who is obsessed with all things motorsport-related, especially on 2 wheels… I am also very proud of my family’s Welsh roots, and will happily visit that side of the border for any given excuse… So, when the British Speedway Grand Prix was in Cardiff on my 28th birthday, a family weekend away was booked!

My Dad (yes, the one with the aerial outside the caravan when I was watching Band of Brothers in 2001) drove the four of us down to South Wales on the Saturday & we enjoyed time in Cardiff & stayed in the village next to where my Nan & Great Aunt had grown up. Sunday was planned for a bit of sight-seeing & the journey home… But what my parents hadn’t realised was that I’d planned a more cross-country route back…

Damianista could not resist posting this here! source: users.livejournal.com

When I saw Damian’s film ‘The Baker’, I thought it was wonderful. A good old family comedy. The treasure-trove that is IMDB meant I knew exactly where it was filmed; Grosmont, a little village near Abergavenny in Monmouthshire, Wales. So I thought a little detour would be nice! I directed my Dad through country lanes & valleys, into the back-end of nowhere! A tiny little village, with a narrow road and parked cars. I squealed as we drove past the pub, trying to find somewhere to park. (This squeal was met with much groaning & head shaking from my parents & boyfriend, who just laugh at me when I start talking about ‘the ginger prince’…again haha.)

The pub is actually The Angel Inn, but happily displays the signs from The Daffodil, as it was called in the film.

copyright: Vicky

I was stupidly excited eating lunch in there, and the lovely barman shared some information about how to get to the castle, which houses in the village were used, and even had autographs from some of the cast (including Damian) displayed behind the bar.

Well, I would get excited, too, if I ate where Milo and Rhiannon ate!

Thanks to his helpful anecdotes, I could go sight-spotting… I found out Milo’s bakery is actually a café and b&b (how lovely would it be to stay there?!).

The Cafe and B&B used as The Bakery

Then came the magical moment, when I got to Grosmont Castle itself (via a tiny path down the side of a farm house and over a small bridge). The sword-fighting scene between Damian Lewis & Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is one of my favourite parts of the film, so standing in that spot myself was incredible.

The castle may be a ruin, but it has a special place in my heart. I went running round taking photos from every angle, including the view back to the village from the top of the tower.

copyright: Vicky

And, of course, my poor boyfriend had to re-create the scene with me, in what is still one of my favourite photos!

Dark Horse goes for a sword fight! 🙂

Now, a few years later, when I watch the film The Baker, I spend much of the time squealing “I’ve been there!”, pointing and clapping with fangirl excitement. Heaven knows what I’d be like face-to-face with the man himself…

Author: Damianista

Academic, Traveler, Blogger, Runner, Theatre Lover, Wine Snob, Part-time New Yorker, and Walking Damian Lewis Encyclopedia :D Procrastinated about a fan's diary on Damian Lewis for a while and the rest is history!

4 thoughts on “Following Footsteps of Milo
Shakespeare: Dark Horse Goes to Grosmont”

  1. Hallo liebe Damianista,
    vielen Dank für diesen wiedermal für mich außergewöhnlichen Beitrag. Die gelebten Verrücktheiten von anderen Fan`s zu hören oder drüber zu lesen, machen einen immer wieder auf`s neue deutlich, dass es nicht`s gibt, was man nicht ausleben kann. Man muss es einfach nur wirklich wollen und dazu stehen.

    Hallo liebe Dark Horse,
    ich finde es total super, wie Du dieses Örtchen erobert hast. Ich kann mir das so richtig gut vorstellen, mit welcher Freude und welchem Eifer man so einen Ort erkundet. Wenn ich an den Film denke, muss ich einfach immer lachen. Er ist im Grunde zum schießen. Die Komik hinter all diesen Scenen ist einfach grandios. Es ist doch immer wieder ein Wunder des Lebens, wenn man bedenkt, was der Mensch an sich so alles hervorzaubern kann. Da haben diese zwei Brüder wirklich gut zusammen-gepasst. Es ist komisch, aber ich fühlte mich in London auch deshalb so gut aufgehoben, weil Damian dort wohnt. Hört sich vielleicht total bescheuert an, ist aber so.
    Herzlichste Grüße aus Deutschland !!

    Google-Translate:

    Dear Damianista,
    Thank you for this wiedermal for me extraordinary contribution. Listening to or reading about the craziness of other fan’s always makes it clear that there is not something you can not live up to. You just have to really want it and stand by it.

    Hello dear Dark Horse,
    I think it’s totally amazing how you conquered this place. I can imagine that very well, with what joy and zeal you explore such a place. When I think about the movie, I just always laugh. He’s basically about to shoot. The comedy behind all these scenes is just terrific. It is always a miracle of life, considering what man can conjure up in himself so everything. Since these two brothers really fit together well. It’s funny, but I felt so well looked after in London because Damian lives there. Sounds totally stupid, but it is.
    Best regards from Germany !!

    1. Thank you for reading my dear Lucky Fellow! I used to care a lot about what others would think about me when I did crazy stuff. It is very cultural: “what other would think” is the biggest hurdle in front of anyone in my culture. I was able to quit caring a while ago and I think I did the right thing. Normal is boring, don’t you think? 🙂

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