Here is our guide to the best film and TV locations to visit in the UK
Highclere Castle, Hampshire
The Crawley family cordially invite you to peruse the grounds of their home, known to us layfolk as Highclere Castle. The castle is owned by the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, where tours of the familiar state rooms can be booked directly through the Highclere website. Downton Abbey’s writer Julian Fellowes had the magnificent Highclere in mind when he wrote the script. According to the Highclere website, ‘he wanted a house which spectacularly testified to the confidence and soaring optimism of the Edwardian period’. During filming, the cast sometimes sleep and dine in The Carnarvon Arms, a grade-II listed former coach house. Keep lookout for thirsty cast members in the bar!
Winterfell, Game of Thrones
Strangford Castle Ward Estate, County Down, Northern Ireland
Beware the White Walkers as you enter the medieval walls of Strangford Castle Ward Estate! It’s better known by Thronies as Winterfell, the Stark family stronghold from HBO’s Game of Thrones. If you think you know more than Jon Snow, have a go at shooting arrows at wildlings (targets) in Castle Ward’s historic farmyard, the exact spot from Bran Stark’s archery scene in the very first episode. Wander round Whispering Woods nearby and take a cycle tour of the world of Westeros.
Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire
The BBC’s darkly gripping Wolf Hall is set in Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire, the Seymour family seat in the TV series. Pace through the cloister court plotting your rise to power, and be sure visit the Great Hall where scenes from Henry VIII’s dim bedroom and Cromwell’s nightmareish banquet were shot. Check out the National Trust website for detailed prices and opening times.
Montacute House, Somerset
Montacute House and gardens in Somerset is reimagined as Greenwich Palace, Henry VIII’s principal London seat and site of Anne Boleyn’s arrest. It’s a grand masterpiece of Elizabethan Renaissance architecture with gorgeous honey-coloured ham stone walls and enormous glass windows, surrounded by a 300-acre parkland and estate. Relive the violent jousting scene in the extensive grounds where the King dishonorably falls off his steed and gasps back to life. Go to the National Trust website for prices and opening times.
West Bay, Dorset
The hunk of glowing sandstone cliff on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast is the backdrop for Danny Latimer’s murder in the ITV series Broadchurch. Specifically East Beach and East Cliff are where you’ll locate the scene of the crime. Broadchurch café is actually Ellipse Caffé Bistro – take shelter from the sea wind and watch the sunset over an expansive Lyme Bay. A stroll around Bridport Harbour afterwards will quickly uncover many other locations hijacked for filming!
Levant and Botallack mines, Charlestown, Porthmeor, Gunwalloe
Those of us who were eagerly awaiting Poldark’s return this year should also look forward to seeing some of Cornwall’s most beautiful spots. Winston Graham’s chronicle of Ross, Demelza and Warleggan is filmed around the moors, coves and harbours of Britain’s southernmost seaside fringe.
Mine ruins around Levant and Botallack have been glimpsed in previews, including West Wheal Owles engine house and Crowns Mine – built unthinkably close to the water or on rocky precipices (great for panoramic shots!) Botallack was given World Heritage Site status in 2006 by UNESCO, which testifies to its extraordinary features. Charlestown quay also features in the series, as do the picturesque beaches of Porthmeor and Gunwalloe.
The beaches are free of charge and the mine ruins can also be seen without charge – find the National Trust’s Botallack mining walk here.
Plus Stardust, Dr Dolittle, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Dick Turpin and Robin of Sherwood
Castle Combe, Wiltshire
A sleepy little village of golden Cotswolds cottages called Castle Combe has seen a whole host of film crews. Stephen Spielburg’s World War I drama Warhorse was set here, as well as the fantasy film Stardust and the 1960s musical Doctor Doolittle starring Rex Harrison, whose onscreen home can still be visited. The charming village is only ten miles from Bath. With its ancient monuments, thick stone walling and split natural stone tiles, it feels as much a step back in time as it does a quaint village film set.
Pride and Prejudice
Lyme Park, Cheshire
If ever the image of a handsome and sopping Mr Darcy has been imprinted in your mind and refused to budge, take a visit to Lyme Park, better known as Pemberley in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The breathtaking oblique view of Lyme Hall reflected in its lake is an iconic freeze frame of British television. Nestled on the edge of the Peak District, Lyme Park is also home to the BBC’s rural drama The Village.
Lyme Park offers Edwardian costume dressing up box, an Edwardian games field, a deer park and 17 acres of carefully tended gardens. There’s also a grand piano inside the hall, so make sure to brush up on your P&P theme tune!
- Who was Jane Austen? History of the Famous Author and the best heritage houses in the UK to visit
- The best walks in the Peak District National Park
Some of the most recognisable scenes from the early Harry Potter films were set in the cloisters of Durham Cathedral, dramatically situated high on Durham Peninsula. Building began in 1093 and the architecture is a mix of Gothic and Romanesque. If you’re potty about Potter you’ll have no problem recognising the Gothic pointed arches of the cloisters which were the backdrop to a certain quidditch lesson in the first film.
The cathedral is a World Heritage Site with a strong sense of history and conservation. It offers exhibitions and guided tours, as well as open doors and free entry all year round.
Glen Nevis and Glenfinnan Viaduct, Scotland
The rolling verdant mountains of Glen Nevis definitely deserve our off-screen attention. The Highlands provide a rugged scenic backdrop not only for various Harry Potter scenes, but also the Braveheart and Highlander films.
A few miles west of Ben Nevis are the stunning 21 arches of Glenfinnan Viaduct, where Harry and Ron had their traumatic flying Ford Anglia adventure. The muggle equivalent of the Hogwarts Express is the Jacobite steam train which travels an 84 mile round trip of deep lochs and high mountains.
The real stars of the 1990s BBC TV series, Lovejoy, were the picturesque medieval villages in Essex and Suffolk. The thatched cottages and timber-framed buildings are bursting with charm and treasure-filled antiques shops. You may not have Lovejoy’s expert eye or his trademark Morris Minor, but an unhurried trundle around his haunts is a great way to unwind – you may even pick up a bargain! Discover more about Lavenham on the National Trust website.
Withnail and I
Sleddale Hall, Cumbria
The hall is well placed to take advantage of the fine views but the elements have had free rein for many years. Under new ownership, however, the structure has been reroofed in slate and weatherproofed to prevent further deterioration. There is a stile over the wire fence at the back to provide access to the grounds. And plenty of curious film-fans have made the journey to enjoy the ambience, and spot the scenes where Withnail fishes with a shotgun and Marwood finds himself in a tricky situation with a bull.
Sid’s Cafe, Last of the Summer Wine
Holmfirth, West Yorkshire
An ensemble of loveable incorrigibles spent their declining years idling and dreaming in the villages and beautiful countryside of West Yorkshire’s Holme Valley. Compo, Clegg, Foggy and many others helped weave a legendary series that is Britain’s longest-running comedy show. Generations grew up with a strange familiarity for this corner of the South Pennines; this walk drinks deeply of this Last of the Summer Wine country.
Discover unspoilt villages seen in the hit TV series Midsomer Murders, on this intriguing trail through the fictional county of Midsomer. Midsomer Murders first hit our screens in 1997 and has since become a worldwide hit. Based on characters created by Caroline Graham, the detective series sees John Nettles as DCI Tom Barnaby, and Jason Hughes as DS Ben Jones, investigating deadly deeds perpetrated by residents of the seemingly tranquil villages of Midsomer.
The Other Boleyn Girl
Knole House, Kent
Henry VIII was so enamoured with Kent’s stately Knole House he pinched it from the then-Archbishop of Canterbury in 1538 to use as a hunting lodge. The makers of The Other Boleyn Girl, the 2008 Hollywood adaptation of Henry’s turbulent love life, were similarly impressed, using the house’s courtyards as a stand-in for Whitehall Palace, and its turrets as London’s Tudor skyscape. Much of the house today is 17th century in style, but it’s easy to imagine a macho Henry, played by Eric Bana, riding around the surrounding 1,000-acre estate, little-changed since the monarch’s days. Nearby also lies another Tudor treasure – Ightham Mote. Both houses close out of season, but the grounds are open all year. Visit the National Trust website for more details.
Hathersage Moor, Derbyshire
Charlotte Brontë is believed to have used the Peak District as the setting for her classic novel after a visit to Hathersage in 1845. The BBC’s acclaimed 2006 dramatisation featured Ruth Wilson as the eponymous Jane Eyre, the orphan girl who, against all the odds, forges a relationship with tormented hero Edward Rochester. Filming took place at Bolsover Castle and Haddon Hall, while many of the stunning outdoor scenes were shot on Stanage Edge, the four-mile long gritstone escarpment above Hathersage, better known for its climbing.
- Explore the landscape that inspired the Bronte Sisters
- Walk: Hathersage and Stanage Edge, Derbyshire
- Hathersage and White Park Moss, Derbyshire
The Italianate village of Portmeirion was created by the architect Clough Williams-Ellis after he bought a neglected mansion surrounded by a wilderness in 1925. He changed its name from Aber Iâ (Ice Estuary) to Portmeirion. The village contains artistic buildings rescued from demolition elsewhere and took 51 years to complete. Located on a peninsula, it proved the perfect prison from where Patrick McGoohan, inmate Number Six of The Prisoner TV series, repeatedly tried to escape. For details about the series’ film locations, head to Visit Portmeirion.
Monarch of the Glen
For five years, Monarch of the Glen brought some of TV’s best-known names to our screens on a Sunday evening, Richard Briers, Susan Hampshire and Tom Baker among them. But one of the biggest stars of the show was the Scottish countryside. Filmed around Badenoch and Strathspey, the heartwarming drama was set against a stunning backdrop of mountains, glens and lochs.
Loosely based on the novels of Compton Mackenzie, the series followed the trials and tribulations of Archie MacDonald as he struggled to turn around the ailing fortunes of his family’s Highland estate. Although the series ended in 2005 after 64 episodes, the adventures of the MacDonald clan still draw people to this beautiful corner of Scotland. Head to the Ardverikie website for more information about staying at the castle.
Bodmin Moor, Cornwall
The quietly threatening Jamaica Inn, located on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, is a gloomy guesthouse that inspired its own fiction. Novelist Daphne du Maurier once stayed there for three days after getting lost on the moor, thus her tale of shipwreck and illicit temptation was born. Built as a coach house in 1750, this renowned building became a smugglers den between the 17th and 19th century. These days, it’s an inn with a Smuggler’s Museum full of villainous tales and folklore.
The 2014 TV adaptation of Jamaica Inn was filmed in Holywell Bay, Bodmin Moor and Kirkby Lonsdale in order to provide a wealth of historic-looking scenery.