Behind the Scenes: SS18 campaign shoot, The Old Rectory Estate, Surrey

We haven’t done a campaign shoot on location in a good while; we’ve been prioritising having fantastic model shots of every style on our shopping pages. But so much of what Madderson is about is that sense of place, of Britishness, of romance. So we set about finding the perfect location in which to shoot our spring collection. It needed to be the English garden of our dreams - a tall order!


When I saw Victoria Beckham’s 40th birthday shoot in Vogue a few years ago, I thought “I want to shoot there”. And when I saw Gabriella Wilde on the cover of Town & Country last year, I thought the same. We tracked down the location for both these shoots; the incredible Old Rectory Estate near Godstone in Surrey. The Old Rectory is owned by Trudie Procter and family; they have lived there for 29 years and it is an amazing family home. Trudie’s son Charles also works in the business, as The Old Rectory is now a wedding venue too.


Waiting for the crew to arrive at the Old Rectory

On the 24th May we all decamped to Surrey for the day. It was a small crew, as shoots go. With me: my trusty colleague Caroline, our model Sarah (who shoots most of our campaigns and represents our brand so well), make-up artist Holly Fowles-Padro, and the team from iHeart studio including their photographer Dom Dodd. We’ve grown close to iHeart – they make all of our studio shoots incredibly easy for us – but we’ve never shot with them on location before. My brief was mainly that of ease. I’ve done location shoots where the set-up for every shot has been tortuous. This time the guys had a Canon, a Mac Book, a tripod and some lighting (which we didn’t use). My kind of shoot.


First shot: it had to be the rhododendrons!

First order of the day upon arrival was a cuppa from Trudie’s trestle table growning with refreshments, while her crazy dog Rufus welcomed us. Then a tour of the house was in order. The rectory is absolutely spectacular. Georgian in origin, it horrifyingly sported white pebble-dash when the Procters bought it. They pulled that down and replaced it with mellow golden sandstone. The house was a treasure trove, from the blue dining room to the heavenly library (complete with wooden ladder) and the main drawing room in white and gold, with a huge picture-window looking out onto the enormous hot-pink rhododendron bush in full bloom.


Dom and Sarah in action

We were keen to get as many of the shots outside as possible and were cautiously optimistic on the weather forecast. There were so many possibilities to choose from. Obviously the rhodendron bush was a definite yes with its abundance of eye-candy. We were so lucky with that; it had only come into bloom the previous week. We saw magnolias, croquet lawns, herb gardens, parterres, Italianate gardens, kitchen gardens, charming lean-tos and a wilderness of bluebells and daffodils. The real eye-catchers were the fountain and the ornate gates, all of which reminded me of Disney’s live-action Cinderella.


Antonio & Alice recce-ing the grounds with crazy Rufus

A bird perching on the beautiful fountain

Having seen the abundance of gorgeousness in the garden, the plan was very clear. Shoot outside as much as possible while the (hazy) sun lasted and keep the shots as natural as possible. That meant minimal hair and make up. We kept Sarah’s natural curl (she has amazing hair), kept make-up light as she was still tanned from her recent holiday, and used no accessories at all. In most shots she was in her own trainers, as we were aiming for landscape shots with a tight crop on the body and plenty of garden scenery.  


Sarah in our Helena playsuit: it was getting cold but she was a trooper!

We shot one of our high summer looks, a broderie anglaise top and maxi skirt, first against the rhododendrons. The team worked brilliantly together (we have shot lots with Sarah and Holly before which makes it very easy). Sarah doesn’t take a bad photo and we always get the shot really quickly. The photographer Dom was thrilled by how easy it was to work with Sarah, and the banter was flying.


Still smiling! 

Checking the shots as they come through on the MacBook

In the end, we shot 9 looks that day; pretty good going for a one-day photo shoot (and we finished early). It got colder and colder and Sarah was plyed with tea, bathrobes, puffa coats and eventually, hugs, to keep her warm! She was a trooper and we got the shots we needed very quickly. The cold was a nice excuse to take the final shot inside and we got some beautiful images of Sarah in our peony print dress, with the rhododendrons outside.

A late burst of sun to showcase our Titania dress

When it got really cold we layered on the coats and the hugs between shots!


The final shot ... indoors. Phew. I love the rhododendrons through the window

I absolutely love the shots from the day but this shot of Sarah in our Titania is probably my favourite. I feel it captures our brand perfectly: a natural British beauty in a dreamy, romantic British garden, wearing a great dress with a hand-painted print, inspired in turn by British botanicals – for me that’s a magic combination.


My favourite shot!

If you’d like to visit The Old Rectory Estate and enjoy their glorious gardens, then they are holding an Open Garden day on Sunday 10th June from 11-4pm.

Sara Madderson is founder and creative director of Madderson London. She loves history, literature, art and a good bottle of claret.
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  • indu Moores says...

    British designers are so talented.. especially love the silk dresses..

    On October 14, 2018

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