In The Footsteps Of The Holiday Movie

Just like any average female, I have always been fond of romantic comedies -the grown ups version of Disney classics- though they usually make one burst into tears once the perfect love story comes to an end, then draw a big fat smile upon our faces after all problems are miraculously solved, and the cute couple/s is finally reunited, and will live happily ever after. Specially bewitched by those starred by English actors –yes because of their charming accent and good looks-, even better if partly, or entirely filmed in England in Christmas time. Why? Because of the Christmas coziness, and atmosphere; decorations, lights, carols, and snow giving a love is in the air kind of feeling.

I hate to admit that Love Actually was the reason why I was daydreaming of going to London, not at any season but Christmas time, and Notting Hill was behind my passion about the English capital of London.

6413099213_0bc2d81e1f_zPhoto courtesy: London in Christmas by Filippo Diotalevi
2014-12-01_1140Photo of Notting Hill neighborhood by Passainte Assem

Driven by romantic comedies once again, this time I was following the footsteps of the Christmas themed movie The Holiday. Filmed in 2006, starred by Cameron Diaz (Amanda Woods), Kate Winslet (Iris Simpkins) , Jude Law (Graham), and Jack Black (Miles). In case you didn’t watch the movie -which I highly doubt-, in short the story is about two females who both had devastating love stories, each decided to take sometime off, to disconnect from everything, and everyone, so they home-exchanged their houses for Christmas Holidays. Amanda’s house is an L.A. spacious well-taken-care-of contemporary establishment, while Iris’ was a small charming cottage house in the English countryside.

image_1Photo of a cottage in Shere in Surrey by Passainte Assem

After making a quick “not-so-well-done” research about the part filmed in the English countryside, I found out that it was “supposedly” filmed in Godalming village in the county of Surrey. The plan was to directly go there, however we were advised to stop at Guildford first to check it out, before continuing to Godalming.

We stopped at the beautiful village of Guildford to check it out, which is considered the capital of Surrey, and asked at the tourist desk about the parts of Godalming in which the movie was shot. We were surprised to be told that Godalming is the wrong place, Shere is the one, and that Iris’ cottage was specially built for the making of the movie.

29Photo of Rosehill cottage serving as Iris’ house by

How to get there

  • From London Paddington station take the approximately one hour train to Godalming worth of GBP 17.9, which usually stops at Guildford. For more information regarding train timetables check this link.
  • If you are not interested to visit Godalming you could buy a ticket to Guildford worth of GBP 15.7. For more information regarding train timetables check this link.
  • Then from Guildford take a 20 minutes bus to Shere worth of GBP 2 -be aware that the ride is on a frightening narrow road, as if it’s not already enough to be riding on the “wrong side of the road” as we left wheel drivers call it. For information regarding buses check this link.


Shere at a glance

Once you step a foot time stops, you are taken to another era where life pace is less hasty and no technology is involved, you’d get a feeling of peacefulness and relief; residents are always smiling and chilled, greeting one another even if not knowing one another, few cars are riding on its narrow roads, they would rather walk or cycle, and most of all the place is more of a well maintained movie location, you’d sense that you are acting in a 50’s or 60’s movie.

shere-1sPhoto courtesy: Passainte Assem

Shere -home to Iris, and home-exchanged with Amanda- is an idyllic, pretty cozy village, and probably the most photographed in the county of Surrey. Due to its proximity to London, and its gorgeous appeal, no wonder why it has been chosen as a movie location for several famous movies such as, but not limited to; Four Weddings And A Funeral, Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reasons, and The Wedding Date. Though the village has very little to show; a collection of small cottages and village houses, a tea house, a museum, an art gallery, two pubs, an old church, with River Tillingbourne flowing in the heart of the city, and a newly opened -December 2013- movie theater, what it has to offer is so much more than that.

image1Though the benchstands in a cemetery look at what’s engraved on it and how happy it sounds “Richard John Simmonds 1911-1993 with Thanks for 82 Happy Years in Shere” by Passainte Assem
imagePhoto of River Tillingbourne by Passainte Assem

Amanda running across the Tillingbourne stream on an old footbridge.

2015-05-19_1201Photo courtesy:

People usually hang out at one of Shere’s two pubs; The White Horse this is where Amanda joined Graham with his friends for dinner, it’s a 15th century farmhouse that was called: ‘The Cripps,’, then became an inn sometime in the 17th century, it is also rumoured to be a former smugglers’ pub. Make sure to stop by for a drink, or some Fish & Chips, when you step inside you will find a photo of Amanda & Graham hanging on the walls making you re-enact the movie scenes. And the second one is; The William Bray named after the 18th century Lord of the Manor of Shere.

That’s a picture of Amanda arriving to Shere in a black car with the White Horse Pub in the background.

2015-05-19_1211Photo courtesy:
shere-3sView of The White Horse from outside by Passainte Assem


2015-05-19_1102View from inside by The White Horse’s website

That was my first time in the world famous English countryside, and it couldn’t be any better, simplicity at its best; simplicity in how the village looks like, simplicity in how life is, and simplicity in how people find their joy in the smallest of things; sitting by River Tillingbourne to read a book, to stare at its flowing waters, or to wet their feet when it’s not insanely cold to, walking their dogs while enjoying a cool breeze of fresh air, accompanying their kids to play around lush greenery, meeting with friends at one of the pubs, or cycling in groups.


IMG_2664Photo courtesy: Passainte Assem

After coming back from such a dreamy trip, hardly realizing that it was not a fairy-tale after all, to begin with I have noticed that I haven’t seen Rosehill Cottage, and secondly I had a feeling that it was not exactly the place I have seen in the movie there are definitely some missing places. I thought maybe due to the tight bus schedule we missed them as we didn’t get to see all of Shere, and didn’t even have time to visit Godalming, once back I started an in-depth research about the movie location, to my surprise the movie wasn’t entirely filmed there! It was between Shere, Cornwell, and Godalming -which maybe requires another visit from my side.

shere-2sPhoto courtesy: Passainte Assem

Not just one movie location

The part were Amanda was having the hardest time driving on the wrong side of the road, and where she went grocery shopping was in Godalming.

2226082422_ed0f246e4c_zPhoto of Godalming, the description and photo by Paul Drummond says: Filming “The Holiday”, Church Street, Godalming with fake snow and decorations – ready for action

A candle-shop converted into a grocery shop to accommodate the movie making.

2015-05-19_1231Photo from the movie by:

Amanda & Graham’s first date was in Cornwell Manor in the Oxfordshire village of Cornwell.

Film - Cornwell Manor - The HolidayPhoto courtesy:

Though I haven’t got to see all of Shere, or been to all of the film locations, all I have got to say is; if you want to get up, close and personal to a perfect un-touristic place to relax, meditate, disconnect, find some peace of mind, photograph, & enjoy so much unspoilt beauty; Shere is the place to be.

And so my next stop might be Eat, Pray, & Love movie locations in Italy, India & Indonesia, or Mamma Mia’s in Greece :), how about you…Ever traveled all the way only to see a movie location in real? Which one was it? If not, would you ever do that? Let us know in the comments below. 

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