'Outlander' makes Lallybroch feel like home
In the ''Lallybroch'' episode of Outlander, fans saw Jamie (Sam Heughan) travel to his childhood home for the very first time, following his traumatic arrest by Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies). Located in the lush Scottish highlands, the country manor— also known as Broch Turach — is where the redheaded Scot hopes to return to normalcy as he assumes his rightful place as laird of Lallybroch. The estate is far more than just a brick-and-mortar manor. It's also where Jamie’s relationships with his new wife Claire (Caitrona Balfe) and sister Jenny (Laura Donnelly), as well as his painful memories of the past, are challenged, which made setting the scene all the more important. With Outlanders eagerly counting down the days until this week’s episode—in which Lallybroch will play an even bigger part—EW spoke to production designer Jon Gary Steele about bringing Jamie's home to life.
Steele began scouting for Lallybroch locations nearly two years ago. "From day one, it was in our minds," he recalls. He eventually settled on a rundown property located in Hopetoun, near the Scottish capital city of Edinburgh. "It was a much smaller scale than Castle Leoch, because that’s a real castle with surrounding walls and overlooks," he says of the structure, which dates back to the 15th century. "Lallybroch is much more of a home farm, and I think the location helped tell that story."
In Jamie’s absence, his sister Jenny has taken on the responsibility of running Lallybroch. To portray her feminine touch, Steele’s team adorned the set with rosebushes and assorted plants. "Everything looks more colorful than in the scenes when Jamie had been beaten," says Steele. "We wanted people to feel that she had taken care of things while he was gone."
Though the Scottish sun shines brightly in this set photo, Steele says poor weather created havoc on Outlander’s production schedule: "We had a few days where the weather was so bad that we had to shut down shooting outdoors and go to the [setup] stage because it was raining, snowing, windy, everything."
To make the property—which had fallen into disrepair after a fire about 70 years ago—look like a working farm, Steele and his team "patched up walls, windows, doors, and shutters." They also "brought in tons of greens, huts for pigeons, and built pens for sheep." The transformation was complete with the addition of livestock, including chickens and geese. "I don’t think we had ever had geese on set before," says Steele, laughing.
Lallybroch isn't just Jamie's ancestral home. As a working farm, it also supports a local village and dozens of tenants. "There would be people doing steel work or working on horses, all kinds of stuff," shares Steele. "It wasn’t just a pretty little place—we tried to make it look a little more utilitarian."
Working with a team of 10 set decorators, 20-odd artists, and at least six full-time carpenters, Steele renovated one large room in the building’s interior that he divided into several sets: a living room, parlor, and dining room.
Family homes are typically filled with knick-knacks, and Lallybroch is no exception. Numerous mementos and decorations were used throughout the country manor, including the tapestry seen here. "We found images from the period, got permission from some museum and paid to get the rights to reproduce them and blow them up," says Steele of producing the oversized period piece. "It worked out great, so we’ll be doing more of that for Paris."
To create a "warm and homey" look for the couple’s master bedroom, Steele decorated a wall with this woven blue tapestry. "I actually think it makes the room seem kind of romantic," he says—which is in keeping with the series’ romantic storyline. Says Steele: "Jamie has always dreamt of going back to Lallybroch, and when he falls in love with Claire, he wants her to think of it as her home too."
"Everything at Lallybroch is supposed to make it look like it’s been there for many generations," says Steele. Though many of the period pieces seen here—like the pitches and deer’s head—were rented, the plush red couch was custom built and then aged to "make it look like it had been there awhile," notes Steele.
Steele worked with set designer Gina Cromwell (whose previous work includes Downton Abbey) to create a working manor kitchen straight out of the 18th century. Showrunner Ronald D. Moore "is a stickler for detail," says Steele, who notes that custom flatware and glassware were ordered specifically for scenes set in Lallybroch. "He wants everything to be factually correct, so that’s why we get so much made for the show." Even the hearth was constructed from scratch: "It had an arch dome bolted ceiling and was like a pizza oven," Steele explains.