A Phantassie setting: Preston Mill and its Outlander fame
A Star Studded Trust Property
Preston Mill & Phantassie Doocot, which have been in the care of the NTS since 1950, have recently received an influx of new visitors and increased international attention due to their starring role in the hit TV drama series, Outlander, by author Diana Gabaldon. Lead characters Jamie, Jenny, and Claire can be seen in Episodes 112 and 113, playing out key scenes around the picturesque red-roofed buildings at the popular NTS location.
The critically acclaimed TV series, which was filmed entirely on location in Scotland, features the Category A listed Mill alongside several other iconic Scottish buildings selected to provide the backdrops for the popular fantasy time-travelling tale. In fact, the NTS has put together a handy ‘Discovering Outlander‘ guide, which allows fans to travel in the footsteps of the show’s stars, Claire and Jamie.
Welcoming the Fans
Since hitting screens in 2014, Outlander has gathered a global fan base. So much so, that tour groups have flocked to the East Lothian region to visit the NTS Property, Preston Mill, for a chance to see – and have their picture taken – against the now famed backdrop featured in their favorite show! With its quaint red-tiled roofs and fast-running stream nearby, the Mill is instantly recognizable from its screen debut. Given the heightened publicity and audience reach, NTS staff members are simply delighted with the extremely positive impact and rejuvenation of foot traffic and general community buzz about Preston Mill & Phantassie Doocot.
Given the 17th century Mill’s distinctive silhouette, it is unsurprising that it was chosen to star in some of Outlander’s most pivotal exterior scenes, including in the flash-forward 1940’s narrative. On screen, the mill becomes part of the Jamie’s family home – The Fraser Estate aka Lallybroch. A particularly memorable and tense moment occurs when an unclothed Jamie hides in the mill race (pond) from the Redcoats.
Having been approached by the local miller to help repair the broken mill, while visiting his family home, Jamie is initially seen inside the mill, attempting to fix the problem with a hammer, to no avail. His character resorts to jumping into the water, alongside the Mill wheel, to try and fix it from there! While chest-level deep in water, the mounted Redcoats appear in the distance, agitated and determined to find him. Luckily, characters Claire and Jenny spot the threat in advance and hastily arrange their long skirts to cover the pile of Jamie’s discarded clothes. Now alerted to the looming danger, Jamie takes a very deep breath and hides underwater, foiling the Redcoats.
Another exciting plot scene was filmed in the property’s Exhibition Room. Here the space was transformed to look like the ante room at the court; the location of the preliminary trial for Claire and Gellis Duncan following witchcraft allegations. Two nail-biting events!
The Artist’s Muse
The recent wave of publicity though the hit TV series, Outlander, is not the first time that Preston Mill & Phantassie Doocot have received such admiration for their stunning aesthetic qualities. In fact, long before their presence hit silver screens across the world, the properties served as a muse in the late 19th to early 20th century for Scottish artists. Most notably, acclaimed artists Robert Miller and William Miller Frazer have both featured the Mill in their paintings. Today, artists still regularly set up their easels among the grounds to capture the property’s unique beauty and form.
To Preserve a Functioning Historic Mill
Flash-forward to 2015…and much fundraising work has to be done to keep this special property in working order. Sadly, main character Jamie’s repairs were only fictional!
Funds are currently required to make urgent repairs to the weir – the apparatus which controls the flow of water to the Mill. Left in its present poor operating condition, the continual breach of water will be detrimental to the functioning of the Mill, causing erosion to its base, many 17th century building materials, and the river bank itself. But with your help…we can turn this situation around.
To preserve this special NTS property and maintain its high-quality visitor experience for travelers all over the world – both today and for the future, we must act now! Consider donating to this property today, and help us to spread this important message by sharing this blog with your friends.
By: Olivia Ancell