House & Family History: Heatherden Hall began life as a large Victorian villa. The circa 1865 house was greatly enlarged in the English Baroque style between 1914 and 1928 to the designs of Charles Melville Seth-Ward for the Canadian financier and Conservative MP Walter Grant Morden. Seth-Ward's work created a grand mansion with a huge ballroom, a Turkish bath, an indoor squash court, elaborate gardens, and a swimming pool – everything the successful early 20th century tycoon could want! Because of its seclusion, the house was used as a discreet venue for high-level government meetings; the Anglo-Irish Treaty was drawn-up at Heatherden in 1921. But success didn't last for Morden; he went bankrupt in 1931 and the Heatherden Estate was acquired by Charles Boot at Morden's death in 1934. Boot was the managing director of the very successful firm of Henry Boot & Sons, a Sheffield building company. In partnership with millionaire flour miller and film entrepreneur J. Arthur Rank, Boot developed the parkland to the north of the house as a complex of film studios, known as Pinewood (in Rank's words, "because of the number of trees which grow there and because it seemed to suggest something of the American film centre in its second syllable"). Rank and Boot intended nothing less than to create a rival, in sophistication and scale, of the Hollywood film studios. Between 1934 and 1936 the first studios were built for British National Films; so important was this venture that the studios were officially opened on September 30, 1936 by the parliamentary secretary to the Board of Trade. The home of the Rank Organisation and countless other film companies, Pinewood ultimately achieved the goal of its founders – today Pinewood Group Limited is the world's largest film studio. The first class library from the famous Cunard luxury liner "Mauritania," designed by Harold Peto in 1907, is today the Pinewood boardroom. There is also a chimneypiece of 1581 from Ilam Hall, Staffordshire, that was installed in Heatherden. The large administration building erected next to the house in the 1930s was later converted into a country club. Heatherden is possibly most famous today as the home of Truly Scrumptious in the 1968 film "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang."
Garden & Outbuildings: The gardens to the south and west of the house were laid out for Walter Grant Morden between 1914 and 1928. The house is still seen today as it was designed in the early 20th century: surrounded by specimen trees, serpentine paths, a cascade, the sunken garden, and a lake with an ornamental bridge.
Architect: Charles Frederick ReeksDate: Circa 1865
Architect: Harold Ainsworth PetoDate: Built for "Mauritania" 1907
Title: Midsomer Murders on Location
Author: Schreiner, Sabine; Street, Joan
Year Published: 2010
Reference: pg. 38
Publisher: Cambridge: Irregular Special Press
Book Type: Softback
Title: Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire, The
Author: Pevsner, Nikolaus; Williamson, Elizabeth
Year Published: 1994
Reference: pg. 416
Publisher: London: Penguin Books
Book Type: Hardback
House Listed: Grade II
Park Listed: Not Listed
Past Seat / Home of: Walter Grant Morden, early 20th century.
Current Ownership Type: Corporation
Primary Current Ownership Use: Mixed Use
Ownership Details: Heatherden is owned by Pinewood Studios and used as offices and for film location filming. It is also available for weddings.