01 August 2018

My Top 5 Favorite British Filming Locations

Blockbuster book and movie franchises from the past decade have spawned a whole industry of filming location tours. There's the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London, which features sets, models, and props from the film series and hosts special demonstrations and events. Forks, Washington went from a down-on-its-luck former logging town to a tourism hotspot after being featured as the primary setting of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series of novels and films. Fans of J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy make pilgrimages to New Zealand, billed by the country's official tourism website as the "home of Middle Earth" thanks to its use as a filming location in the recent film adaptation series.

The appeal of these destinations, of course, is to experience one's favorite fictional setting in real life--or at least, as close an approximation as one can get. There are several places I'd like to experience in that way myself, but my dream destinations are considerably more obscure than the ones I mention above. Here are my top five favorite filming locations from British movies and television that I'd love to see if I ever get the chance to cross the pond:

Athelhampton House, Dorset, England

Mike Searle / Athelhampton House the South Front / CC BY-SA 2.0

This Tudor manor house brought Green Knowe to life in From Time to Time, a 2009 film adaptation of L. M. Boston's Green Knowe book series. While some interior scenes were shot at other historic houses, Athelhampton and its grounds were used in all exterior scenes plus scenes set in Green Knowe's library and great hall. The entire house looks quite atmospheric, and the gardens with their unusual topiary and structures seem worth a visit in their own right.

Ardverikie Estate, Inverness-shire, Scotland

Dallas Epperson / Ardverikie House / CC BY-SA 2.0

While many films and television series use multiple filming locations to represent one place, Ardverikie Estate truly is Glenbogle from Monarch of the Glen, a comedy-drama that aired on the BBC from 2000-2005. The fantastically castle-like mansion was used for both interior and exterior scenes at Glenbogle House, and the surrounding 38,000-acre estate represented Glenbogle's extensive land--so much so that the writers actually gave the fictional Glenbogle the same acreage. Today Ardverkie functions as a filming location for other productions and operates as a tourism destination, renting out cottages and offering outdoor activities to visitors.

Chichester, West Sussex, England

Evgeniy Podkopaev / Chichester Cathedral / CC BY-SA 3.0

One of my favorite television series of all time is Rumpole of the Bailey, and my favorite episode is Rumpole and the Age of Miracles. In it, Rumpole travels to the fictional cathedral city of Lawnchester, whose claim to fame is the story that the ghost of (the also fictional) St. Edithna haunts the local hotel. After a little internet research I discovered that the real cathedral city of Chichester served as Lawnchester, and the real Chichester Harbour Hotel was used for exterior shots of the St. Edithna Hotel. While Chichester might not have quite the same spooky backstory as Lawnchester, it looks like a beautiful place full of its own unique and interesting history.

Rye, East Sussex, England

Jim Linwood / Lamb House, Mermaid Street, Rye, East Sussex / CC BY-SA 2.0

Rye is inextricably twined with the Mapp and Lucia book series: author E. F. Benson based the fictional coastal town of Tilling on Rye, the town where he lived and eventually became mayor, and modeled the much-coveted Mallards on his own Lamb House. The real-life town stood in for its fictional counterpart in both the original 1985-1986 television adaptation and the 2014 miniseries, and it was in the latter that I first saw Tilling brought to life. It looks just as picture-perfect onscreen as Benson describes it in his novels--though hopefully any visitors will end up with better landladies than Miss Mapp!
Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England

John Kenyon / Buildings on Wyle Cop in Shrewsbury / CC BY-SA 2.0

My favorite adaptation of A Christmas Carol that does NOT feature any Muppets is the 1984 film starring George C. Scott. Since London in the 1980s had changed quite a bit since the Victorian era, the filmmakers went to Shrewsbury to get a properly Dickensian look for the film. Scrooge's gravestone still stands in St. Chad's Churchyard in Shrewsbury, and was apparently a blank stone found on-site by producers, who got permission to inscribe it for the film. The town of Shrewsbury itself is rich in history, and of relevance to the film is the fact that Charles Dickens gave a public reading of A Christmas Carol in Shrewsbury's town hall.


  1. I'd love to visit all of the locations that you've featured in this post. Some more of of my favorite filming locations from British movies and television include:

    1. Aunt Betsy Trotwood's house in the Masterpiece production of "David Copperfield".

    2. Mr. Darcy's estate in the Masterpiece production of "Pride and Prejudice".

    3. Rocky and Madge's house from the BBC series "As Time Goes By".

    I'm not sure where these locations are, or whether they would be open to the public--maybe you could do a follow-up post!

    1. There are just too many pretty places for one post! I'd definitely like to do a follow-up, but in the meantime I actually have a little info on #1 and #3, which I had previously researched myself. Aunt Betsy Trotwood's house is at least open as an event venue, though I'm fairly certain it's open for tours as well. But alas, Rocky and Madge's house was and remains private property, no visitors allowed!


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