Wednesday, August 8, 2012

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V221: A Visit to Riley's Farm, the Set of "Courage, New Hampshire"

Dried herbs hanging in one of the tavern windows.  The light inside was beautiful.
After Costume College came to an end, Mom and I took a drive out to Riley's Farm, not only a working farm with orchards and corn and goats, but also the set of "Courage, New Hampshire."

Riley's Farm is 750 acres of awesome.  You would never know you were in the hills of Southern California, especially when the farm is peppered with original 18th century buildings that were shipped out West and re-assembled.

One of the original 18th c. buildings brought from back east.
Mary Johns, the costumer for "Courage, New Hampshire," gave us the grand tour, showing the 18th century tavern, where all manner of scenes are shot, from the expected pub scenes, to courtroom and dance scenes. We also saw several outbuildings that appear in the films as family cabins.

The fireplace in the tavern.
What really bowled me over, though, was the costume rooms where Mary and her two compatriots create and care for ALL the costumes used on Riley's Farm and in "Courage, New Hampshire."  We saw three rooms, one of them a huge banquet hall, absolutely stuffed with gowns, frock coats, and hundreds of linen shirts and undergarments.

A very small cross-section of women's clothing in one of Mary's costume rooms.
I was utterly impressed with the accuracy of the clothing used for the films - Mary insists on using authentic materials, right down to the reed boning in the stays, so you can bet your bottom dollar that everything in the films is researched, constructed almost completely by hand using period materials, and also complete - every actress is wearing stays, every actor a pair of diaper-butt breeches.  It's brilliant.

Mary Johns, the costumer for "Courage, New Hampshire"
The farm was beautiful, and also open to the public when they are not filming.  If you are in the LA area, go and see it!


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11 comments:

  1. I am jealous that you got to stop there. I have been a fan of Mary Johns ever since I first found out about these productions. In fact, Mary was on the now-defunct 18cWomen Yahoo list, where she asked many questions before she constructed the clothing. She really did her research!

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    1. Yes, I was blown away! She took the 18th century buttons class with me, at Costume College, and you can bet we'll be seeing some death head buttons on something fabulous in the next episode. :-) The girl is crazy, in a wonderful way.

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  2. That's so neat that you stopped at Riley's! We went apple picking there a couple years ago and then stayed overnight at the Mission Inn - best 36 hour vacation EVER. It really does feel like you've gotten away from SoCal. Dying to go back!

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    1. I missed the filming by one day, but got the tour of the buildings and "back lot" costume rooms and sets. Some day I hope to get back to pick apples and pears.

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  3. hehe that's where we're getting married! i also have friends who work at riley's, and were extras in some of the recent filming. great place!

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    1. No way! Well then you'll be in the area to come to Costume College the next weekend :-) And bring your hubby with you - Christopher Forrest needs some man-costume competition :-)

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    2. Yes, please give Chris a run for his money. He would love to see more boys around.

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  4. Wow, I never even knew that place existed! I'm seeing yet another excuse to travel down south. Once I've gathered enough excuses, I'll have no reason to not go to L.A. and shop in the garment district!

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    1. Dude, Chrissy. Costume College next year. Fo Sho.

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  5. Hi Lauren,
    That is so cool that you took that trip and visited New Hampshire. I go to college at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, New Hampshire and it is absolutely gorgeous up there! I also just love your blog so much. I am so much into American History costuming and making gowns. I always love to get ideas.
    Mary Drennen

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    1. Mary, that's one of the cool things about Riley's farm - it's not in New Hampshire, but Southern California! The films shot there are set in New Hampshire, though :-D

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