Some people can remember the exact moment they fell in love; a coup de foudre which changed the way they felt about someone or in my case, somewhere. I know precisely when and where I was when I fell hook, line and sinker and my love affair with Dorset began: I was sitting in my grandmother's house, drinking tea.
Knowing how much I loved Thomas Hardy, my grandmother had bought the video of Tess, Roman Polanski’s film version of Hardy’s Tess of the D'Urbevilles. She turned on the television and pressed 'play'. I am a country girl, brought up in Sussex, a beautiful county with ups that are called downs and cliffs and sea. But lovely though Sussex is, it couldn’t hold a candle to this vision of late 19th-century Dorset and the unspoiled Wessex countryside unfolding before me. A scene where Tess is walking in a field at sunset in autumn took both my breath and my heart away.
I watched the video twice more and felt as if my soul had come home.
Years later I met a man who was Dorset born and bred and eventually, after the usual stint in London, we found a house in the middle of nowhere in Hardy country, close to where Tess was 'born'. The place was every bit as glorious as I remembered it. This was where I was meant to be.
Not long after we moved in, I visited a little old bookshop in the nearest town. They had a shelf dedicated to Hardy and I plucked a book at random and began to read. It was illustrated with exquisite stills from the Polanski film, immediately conjuring up memories of that afternoon in Granny's drawing room. And I noted with certain satisfaction that virtually identical vistas could be experienced on any dog walk near my house.
But all was not quite what it seemed. I also learned that because Roman Polanski had been at risk of deportation to the US if he stepped foot in the UK, he had filmed Tess not down the road, but entirely on location in northern France. Normandy and Brittany had been chosen as Dorset’s stand-ins because 'even a native couldn't tell them apart'. I watched the film again a couple of weeks ago and realised, as a native, how right they were. My love was inspired by fiction – but the fairytale ending was real.
'My love was inspired by a movie' is part of our new series, A Savills Love Story, prompted by Savills new advertising campaign.
We invite you to submit your own Savills Love Story. What made you fall for your home? Was it love at first sight or more of a slow burn? Do you have a 'type' or is your approach to house-buying more pragmatic? Or tell us about your fantasy home – the magical place you've always wanted to live, perhaps inspired by a novel or a fleeting glimpse in a magazine? We will donate £50 to YoungMinds for every story we publish on Savills UK Blog. We'll also make a donation for every story submitted for consideration.