Article by Rachel Greenberg, originally written for NileGuide
You know all those massive, opulent mansions you catch glimpses of in TV shows and movies? Surprisingly, many of them are actually real! Historic mansions in the UK are used in hundreds of films and shows – can you recognize where you’ve seen them?
1. Chatsworth House – North Derbyshire
Image: Nigel’s Europe/Flickr
Perched on an impressive parcel of parkland on the east bank of River Derwent, it’s easy to see why Chatsworth House would be a prime place for filming. Construction on the property began in the early 1500s, and Mary, Queen of Scots was even imprisoned on the grounds for a time. Today the “house” is open to the public free of charge, and visitors can catch a glimpse of where the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice filmed “Pemberley” (Mr. Darcy’s house), and where the Wolfman from The Wolfman called home.
2. Highclere Castle – Hampshire
This impressive castle was built in an English revival style on the site were a medieval palace once stood. Any Downton Abbey fans would recognize the castle immediately – it was the main setting for the Crawley family in the hit British TV series. The interior of the castle was also used for many scenes in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut.
3. Alnwick Castle – Northumberland
Image: Gail Johnson/Flickr
Image: Lawrence OP/Flickr
The first stones of this massive castle were erected in 1096, and it is still occupied by a duke and his family to this day making it the 2nd largest inhabited caste in England (Windsor Castle is the first). Lucky for visitors the current residents only take up a small part of the castle, and the rest of open to the public. Scenes from the 1991 version of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves were filmed here, but the castle is best known for being the real-life filming location of “Hogwarts” in the Harry Potter movie series.
4. Hatfield House – Hertfordshire
This home has been in the Cecil family since its construction in 1611, and although a family still lives there part of the house is open to the public. Situated on a beautiful park with 42 acres of manicured gardens, it isn’t hard to see why directors would love the Hatfield House for shooting films. And boy does this home have an impressive film petegre. It was cast as “Wayne Manor” in the 1989 Batman and 1992 Batman Returns and served as Lara Croft’s home in Laura Croft Tomb Raider. It was also used in the 2009 version of Sherlock Holmes, as well as Get Him to the Greek, Shakespeare in Love, the Johnny Depp version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and V for Vendetta.
5. Wardour Castle – Wiltshire
Image: Etrusia UK/Flickr
Image: Tilly Mint/Flickr
Built in 1392, the castle was destroyed in 1644 after being intrenched in two sieges during the English Civil War. Years later a second building was built on the grounds, and the destroyed remainder of the medieval structure was left in ruins. The new home dubbed “New Castle” was used as the dance school in Billy Elliot. And the destroyed “Old Castle” appeared in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves as “Locksley Castle”.
6. Haddon Hall – Derbyshire
Construction on this beautiful country home began in the 11th century, and the home was built like many of the period – most of the rooms are interconnected and can only be accessed from other rooms, or from the exterior. Although mildly inconvenient to modern living, it didn’t stop The Princess Bride filmmakers for choose Haddon Hall to serve as Prince Humperkinck’s castle.
7. Lunton Hoo Hotel – Hertfordshire
The land where this grand hotel now stands was originally inhabited by the Hoo family manor house in the 1400s. The grand home you now see was built in 1767 in a neoclassical style, but was added onto, redesigned, and remodeled many more times until finally being converted into a luxury hotel in 2007. The Luton Hoo appeared in not one but two James Bond movies (Never Say Never Again and The World is Not Enough), acted as the asylum facade in Quills, and scenes from War Horse were also shot there.
8. Mentmore Towers – Buckinghamshire
Built between 1852 and 1854, this grand home was meant for Mayer de Rothschild of the Rothschild family banking dynasty. Mayer needed a home close to London where he could store his world renowned antique collection. Following WWII the contents of the home were sold in auction, and Mentmore itself was purchased by the Transcendental Meditation movement in the 1970s and then again by a hotel group in 1997. The hotel company has yet to get permission to break ground on the property, and there are reports of building neglect. You can see the Mentmore in The Mummy Returns twice – first the exterior was use for the O’Connell’s house and then the Mentmore’s Great Hall was used as the interior of the British Museum. The home was also in Ali G Indahouse as the Prime Minister’s country estate.
9. Saltram House – Plymouth
Saltram House was originally constructed in the 1700s, but was remodeled with each subsequent resident. Today it’s part of the National Trust and open to visitors. It was used in the 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility when the grand home was cast as ‘Norland Park’ – the family’s original estate.
10. Broughton Castle – Oxfordshire
This moated castle is one of the last left in England. Built at the meeting of three streams, the location was perfect for a fortified manor, and a structure has stood in that area since the 1300s. In 1451 it was granted to the Fiennes family, and the 21st Baron and his family still reside in the home. The grand castle was used as the filming location for Viola de Lesseps’ palace in Shakespeare in Love. Strangely enough the actor who played Shakespeare in the film, Joseph Fiennes, is a descendent of the Fiennes family that has lived Broughton Castle since the 15th century.