BROADCHURCH fans will be able to tour Axehampton House and help raise money for the Dorset’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Bournemouth.

Axehampton House - the scene of Trish's brutal rape - was filmed at Bridehead in Littlebredy, home of Dorset High Sheriff Sir Philip Williams.

Sir Philip is using the 'Broadchurch effect' to raise money both for the referral centre and the village church.

He said: "The area of our amenity grounds containing the waterfall is routinely open to the public without charge anyway, but we’ve put a notice up hoping that visitors attracted by the Broadchurch effect will contribute to fundraising for Dorset’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Bournemouth.

"Further, for the same reason, plans are taking shape to open Bridehead, alias Axehampton House to the public during the weekend following the end of the series, which we anticipate to be the weekend of April 22 and 23.

"We also want to lay on other fundraising opportunities in the village, such as cream teas in the house or village hall, but that hasn’t taken shape yet."

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He knows that Broadchurch will be a great draw for the weekend but suspects the difficulty will be keeping people away the rest of the time.

Although plans are at an early stage Sir Philip and Lady Williams are likely to be offering guided tours of the rooms in their home that were filmed for the series and a walk along the lake in the private part of the grounds and then cream teas He added: "I expect the walled garden will open as well - almost an open village with a Broadchurch theme."

All the money raised by visitors to the waterfall in the weeks the series is aired will be divided between the sexual assault referral centre and the church.

Sir Philip said he rather enjoyed the film crews three visits, each lasting two or three days - although he said the locations manager was always pushing for more and more access.

He said: "They were here three times, two or three days each time and yes I did enjoy it, my wife Catherine - not very much.

"Wait till you see what our library looks like when dressed up for the party scene - it is about as tacky as you can possibly imagine!"

The kitchen on the other hand wasn't spruced up, a fact that he said made his wife rather self-conscious.

Sir Philip said: "I think she is conscious of the fact that our kitchen here was good enough for my grandmother and good enough for my mother so it ought to be good enough for us. We haven't touched it but everyone now who goes into it says 'oh what a wonderful retro kitchen'.

"If you imagine the Axehampton House scenario - there is the house that is being rented out but the caterers for the events are not in stately pile kitchen. They are in a fairly ramshackle room that they can just pile things up in.

"So our kitchen was rapidly commandeered for that purpose. I think Catherine did feel a little bit ashamed."

Sir Philip said it was lovely to meet some of the cast.

"This is not a particularly glamorous production, there are no ravishing starlets wondering around for me to have my picture taken with but there is fame and distinction of the show and the two main actors in particular who were really nice.

"Olivia Coleman was lovely. She was so appreciative and thought what a wonderful place this is.

"One day when they were filming down by the waterfall she was there with all her children, including the brand new baby and a nanny just letting them share the day.

"David Tennant was very pleasant and we met Mark Latimer and Beth was here one day but we never knew how they were going to be worked into the story."

He said it was also fascinating to see inside the production process.

"Every single person is an assistant director or a director's assistant, they are all directors of something. Nobody is just 'I just do what I am told'!"

Broadchurch is not the first time Bridehead has appeared on screen.

Sir Philip said: "We had a German film crew here making a Rosamunde Pilcher story, the best part of ten years ago. That really was a glamorous production - utterly unrealistic, like Miss Marple squared!"

There was also talk of filming a major feature film but they either couldn't find the right Hollywood A-lister or the project was scraped, said Sir Philip.

Not that he is really sorry.

"I am not sure we want to be be another Downton Abbey type Highclere.

"But it has been fun while it lasted."

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BIRD'S EYE VIEW: Bridehead, aka Axehampton House Picture: JASON HAWKES from his book Dorset from the Air