HALTON HOUSE STARS IN THE QUEEN MOVIE

(TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 26) THE movie, The Queen, which was released on Friday and has been hotly tipped as an Oscar contender, had many of its scenes shot at Halton House, which was open to the public as part of Heritage Day recently.

The house has currently been converted for a film about Harry Houdini, starring Catherine Zeta Jones, and also appears as the backdrop for many scenes in The Queen starring Helen Mirren.

Scenes were also shot at another former Rothschild home, Waddesdon Manor.

Even so, the latest film set to take over Halton House is relatively minor in comparison to its amazing real life story.

The chateau-style house was commissioned in 1880 by Alfred de Rothschild, who wanted a similar retreat to Waddesdon Manor but on a smaller scale.

Building work was completed in 1883 with the intention of using Halton House as a weekend retreat for entertaining society's beautiful and influential people.

Squadron Leader Colin Baker organised the opening in response to Heritage Day and shed some light on the house's opulent past, which is believed to be the first house in the world to have under floor heating, a hydraulic lift and an indoor swimming pool.

Squadron Leader Baker said: "The house was built purely for entertaining and the parties held here were quite amazing. Alfred had his own private circus made up of ponies and dogs and one of the lakes would double up as an iceskating rink in the winter."

It was while Alfred was studying at Cambridge University he formed a friendship with the Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VII and it was exactly this sort of guest who was entertained at Halton House.

Another favourite known to have signed the guest books is star of the stage and rumoured lover of King Edward VII, Lillie Langtree.

The house was first lent to the armed forces during the First World War as part of a gentleman's agreement. But shortly after, Alfred died and left the estate to his nephew, Lionel Nathan de Rothschild who hated the house and sold it at auction to the newly formed Royal Air Force for 115,000 in 1918.

Since then, grade II listed Halton House has been used as an officers' mess offering accommodation to serving officers.