Silver Screen Surroundings: Outlander S1E12 “The Laird Returns” aka Lallybroch

At long last, Lallybroch! In the books and television show, we hear Jamie wax rhapsodic about his home and estate Lallybroch. He hasn’t been home in four years and at long last, bedraggled and anxious, he returns with his bride Claire (who was just on trial for witchcraft). The book describes the house as such:

“It was larger than I had expected; a handsome three-story manor of harled white stone, windows outlined in the natural grey stone, a high slate roof with multiple chimneys, and several smaller whitewashed buildings clustered about it, like chicks about a hen.”

Gabaldon, Diana (2004-10-26). Outlander: with Bonus Content (pp. 370-371). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

And as we see it come into view in the television show, the setting does not disappoint. It was exactly as I had pictured it.

The exteriors of Lallybroch are Midhope Castle outside of Edinburgh. It’s actually on the estate of Hopetoun Castle, which was the setting for the Duke of Sandringham’s house which we saw two episodes ago. Midhope Castle is completely empty inside and the interiors were built on the production soundstage. It was also built in the 16th century. So, while it was as I pictured it, it’s actually nearly two centuries older than described in the book.

“Built in 1702, it was indeed modern for its time, with such innovations as porcelain stoves for heating, and a great brick oven built into the kitchen wall, so that bread was no longer baked in the ashes of the hearth. The ground floor hallway, the stairwell, and the drawing room walls were lined with pictures. Here and there was a pastoral landscape, or an animal study, but most were of the family and their connections.”
Gabaldon, Diana (2004-10-26). Outlander: with Bonus Content (p. 384). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

 

The interiors, however, were much more opulent that I had ever pictured them. The television sets (kudos to Production Designer Jon Gary Steele and Set Decorator Gina Cromwell) are gorgeous.

“He led me through the house, ignoring the few startled servants we passed, past the entrance hall and through a small gun room, into the drawing room. It boasted a wide hearth with a polished mantel, and bits of silver and glass gleamed here and there, capturing the late-afternoon sun.”

Gabaldon, Diana (2004-10-26). Outlander: with Bonus Content (p. 372). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
I went back and skimmed through Outlander The Book to find descriptions of the house interiors and there really isn’t too much there beyond what I’ve quoted above.
Jamie and Claire (seated left) chat awkwardly with Jenny and Ian (right) in the drawing room. There is a staircase that winds around behind the fireplace (quite a surprising architectural detail, actually). The room is filled with beautiful furniture in velvets and crewel work.

Claire and Jamie sit on a red velvet “Knole Settee” which is notable for it’s deep seating and adjustable sides/arms. The original Knole Settee is housed at Knole in Kent,  which is managed by the National Trust in England. Here are several examples of this style of sofa, which are still made today. It was originally meant as more of a formal thrown for a monarch to receive visiting guests, so it makes sense than Jamie, as newly returned Laird of the Manor, would be seated here.

 

Ian, Jamie’s dear childhood friend and new brother-in-law, sits in a traditional arm chair with crewelwork upholstery and nailheads. (That dog’s head and neck is bigger than my whole dog). The table is William and Mary gate leg style, which dates to the late 15th century, such as this one available at 1st Dibs which is dated to 1690.
The glassware is from Georgian Glassmakers who were contracted to make all the wine glasses used in the production.

Upon his return, Jamie assumes the mantle of leadership as Laird of the Estate – to less than stellar results. In the photo above, set in the dining room, Jamie is wearing his father’s leather coat and is trying to fill his very big shoes. In this scene, they are beginning to collect the quarterly rents from the tenant farmers on the estate. The dining room is incredibly beautiful – filled with tapestries (hand painted by the set people to look like tapestries) and painted walls. And, the woodwork paneling is to die for!

The dining chairs are in the Jacobean style (appropriately enough for the story). Jacobean furniture was named after King James VI (who was a Stuart) who reined from 1567-1625.

The chairs above are 19th century reproductions of Jacobean period style, available at 1st Dibs. Note the barley twist spindles and scallop details.

 

The wood paneled doors and walls are incredible standouts in the production design.

In a deviation from the book, a big deal is made in the television show that Jamie and Claire displaces Jenny and Ian from their bedroom, as it’s the “Laird’s bedchamber”.  I didn’t love this part of the show, but Jamie was trying to assert his authority and position in the house and this was one way of doing it. Meanwhile, the bedroom was absolutely divine, if not exactly as described in the book:

“…a large, airy bedroom…”

Gabaldon, Diana (2004-10-26). Outlander: with Bonus Content (p. 382). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Well, that’s not fair, the above is the ONLY description in the book that I could find. So, we were treated to this glorious study in indigo blue tapestried walls, upholstery and bedding.

 

Gorgeous, though it does look like there’s a tapestry hanging behind the fireplace surround – which is probably was since it’s a fake fireplace. Though it is astonishingly beautiful, and big – the actor Sam Heughan is 6’3″, so the surround is about the same, as shown in the view above.

The color of this bedroom is incredibly beautiful, but the fact that it’s blue – a hugely expensive color to obtain in those days – speaks volumes to me about what the set design is saying about the Fraser’s family fortune. Back in the day, these shades of blue came from crushed lapis lazuli, indigo and woad. Indigo is believed to have come via India through trade to Rome and Greece, and was a rare commodity in Europe through the Middle Ages (ending in the 15h century).

The blues in the famous “Hunt of the Unicorn” tapestry (late 15/early 16th century) are derived from woad. Woad was predominantly found in Europe, indigo from India. Though they are chemically similar, indigo plants produced a stronger blue. When trade was opened to India, the competition because fierce and the powers that be tried to influence things by claiming the true indigo rotted yarns.  Because of its high cost, indigo was at one point referred to as blue gold.

 

There’s a lot of blue dye used in this bedroom! Maybe it was selected to just bring out the blues in their eyes…

Set design, like costume design, offer visual cues for the audience. Jamie’s father, the late Brian Fraser, was the (fictitious) bastard son of Simon, Lord Lovat of the Clan Fraser, established in the Highlands in the 13th century. Jamie’s mother, Ellen, was a daughter of the clan MacKenzie, another powerful and wealthy clan, especially in this book.  This house, which though much, much smaller than Castle Leoch, feels more opulent and elegant. What does this say about Ellen and Brian?

“Along this border, at the southern end of the Fraser clan lands, lay the small estate of Broch Tuarach, the property of Brian Fraser, Jamie’s father. “It’s a fairly rich bit of ground, and there’s decent fishing and a good patch of forest for hunting. It maybe supports sixty crofts, and the small village—Broch Mordha, it’s called. Then there’s the manor house, of course—that’s modern,” he said, with some pride, “and the old broch that we use now for the beasts and the grain. “Dougal and Colum were not at all pleased to have their sister marrying a Fraser, and they insisted that she not be a tenant on Fraser land, but live on a freehold. So, Lallybroch—that’s what the folk that live there call it—was deeded to my father, but there was a clause in the deed stating that the land was to pass to my mother, Ellen’s, issue only. If she died without children, the land would go back to Lord Lovat after my father’s death, whether Father had children by another wife or no. But he didn’t remarry, and I am my mother’s son. So Lallybroch’s mine, for what that’s worth.”

Gabaldon, Diana (2004-10-26). Outlander: with Bonus Content (p. 178). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Seems worth all the struggle, no?

And, speaking of struggle and what the set design may be saying, here’s Captain “Black” Jack Randall and a very evil looking chair…

Spooky, no? Actually, someone posted an image of Randall and this chair with a caption about the chair hating Randall too. I’ll add it if I can find it again. ‘Twas verra funny.

Again, a huge congrats to Jon Gary Steele and Gina Cromwell – your work has been outstanding!

And, a big THANK YOU to the folks at Outlander-Online who created nearly all of the screen caps I use above. You guys are the best!!

Read all my Outlander posts here.

xoxo Linda Would you like my Favorite Tips for a Well-Decorated Home? Click here!

2 thoughts on “Silver Screen Surroundings: Outlander S1E12 “The Laird Returns” aka Lallybroch

  1. I have asked John Gary Steele many time on Twitter if we could have a coffee table book of the outlander interiors. Maybe I should be asking Gina Cromwell. Wouldn’t that be wonderful

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