Plan a Tour of Britain in the Movies

Visit the Film Landscapes of Movies Old and New

Puzzlewood in Gloucestershire
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Put yourself in the pictures by visiting favorite film and TV locations all over the UK.

If you're a film fan and that's your dream, you are not alone. According to VisitBritain, four in ten visitors to the UK want to visit the locations they've seen in movies and on TV. Harry Potter and Downton Abbey have both created tourism booms all by themselves.

Filmmakers love using Britain as a backdrop in their films because they can find a huge variety of different landscapes, cityscapes, seaports, mountains, period locations, sports events and stately homes to use as backdrops all within relatively short distances of each other.

So, in the interests of helping you to share a bit of movie magic on your next trip to the UK, here's a list of locations you can visit ranging from recent blockbusters to golden oldies.

Made in Britain - Films and Film Locations

Star Wars: The Force Awakens 

By now, most film fans probably know that almost all the special effecs and actor scenes of the Star Wars movies have been made at English studios, mostly Elstree and Shepperton but recently Pinewood as well. The public cannot visit those but the latest in the franchise used several atmospheric exteriors that you can visit.

The air-battle scenes on the forest planet of Takodana used Lake District views over Thirlmere and Derwentwater. Most of the lush green forest planet, site of Maz Kanata's Castle, is actually the ancient woodland of Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. Known for its helter skelter of twisted, moss covered branches, wooden plank bridges and ancient Yew trees, it's open daily from 10am to 5pm, April to September, and for limited times throughout the rest of the year.

There's an admission charge.

Harry Potter 

You can find Harry Potter locations all over Britain or head up to Leavesden (a 20-minute train ride from London) where you can visit the actual sets on the excellent WB Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter,

If you'd like to travel a bit further afield,  Alnwick Castle on the River Aln near the Northumberland coast, is a must for Potter fans.

It stood in for Hogwarts in two Harry Potter films and saw its visitors increase by 230% as a result. Between March and October, you can take part in flying broomstick training (free with admission) on the very spot where Harry learned to fly.

War Horse 

The much filmed Bourne Wood in Surrey, an incredibly photogenic village, Castle Combe in Wiltshire, and Dartmoor in Devon were among the many British locations for Steven Spielberg's film of Michael Morpurgo's WWI novel and play.Word is that Spielberg fell in love with Devon.

Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice has made it to the screen countless times and many of England's grandest stately homes have been used as locations. The 2005 version, with Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Matthew Macfadyen, used the wonderful Chatsworth House in Derbyshire for Mr. Darcy's house. It so impressed Elizabeth Bennett that she had to rethink his marriage proposal. The house, the home of the Dukes of Devonshire, is open to the public and one of the most popular visitor attractions in England. 

Alice in Wonderland

Antony House near Torpoint in Cornwall was the scene of the Mad Hatter's tea party in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.

Apparently, Burton liked the long Yew Hedge and the opportunity to paint the roses white. The house is a National Trust property, though still occupied by the Carew family, and is open to the public.

The Old Royal Naval College - A Super Setting

The Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, designed by Christopher Wren, is such a perfect 18th century backdrop that it features in films again and again. You've no doubt seen it in The Pirates of the Caribbean. Look for its exteriors, too, in Les Misérables, Skyfall, Sherlock Holmes, The King's Speech, The Mummy Returns, and  The Duchess. And you might spot its interiors, including the fabulous Painted Hall in Thor: The Dark World.  While you are visiting movie sets in Greenwich, be sure to stop to visit the Cutty Sark and the National Maritime Museum.

Four Weddings and a Funeral 

The characters played by Hugh Grant and Andy MacDowell shared their first encounter in a bed at the Boat Inn. Actually it was The Crown Hotel in Amersham, on the end of the London Underground Metropolitan Line. The room, known as the Queen Elizabeth Suite, is a favorite with honeymoon couples and is booked up well in advance. Exteriors in the film were shot outside The King's Arms, just up the street. If you are planning to book either, you might want to check them out first.

And Some Oldies But Goodies

  • Gladiator Bourne Wood This stand of mature conifers, managed by the Forestry Commission, about a mile and a half south of Farnham, Surrey, has been featured in many films and commercials. You'll recognize it from the opening battle scene in Gladiator.
  • The French Lieutenant's WomanThe Cobb in Lyme Regis A woman in a cape staring out to sea not only inspired John Fowles novel but later became the indelible image of both the novel and film of the same name. The Cobb, an impressive breakwater, also features in a 1995 television film Jane Austen's Persuasion.
  • Remains of the Day Dyrham Park, near Bath in Gloucestershire was one of several houses that stood in for Darlington Hall in the film of Kazuo Ishiguro's novel, starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. The house, a National Trust property open to the public and known for its collection of Dutch decorative arts, was only used for exteriors. Also used were Badminton House, scene of the famous Badminton Horse TrialsPowderham Castle, a private castle that's open to the public in Devon, and Corsham Court, another private stately home that is open to the public.
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Just about every child born since 1968 has seen this film - nowadays on Saturday morning television or on video. The pond in which Truly Scrumptious ends up, is in Russell's Water, between Watlington and Nettlebed in South Oxfordshire. How handy that it's right across the road from the Five Horseshoes Pub, included in my Easy Maidensgrove Walk.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail Castle Stalker, a 15th century castle, completely surrounded by water, about 25 miles north of Oban on the West Coast of Scotland was used as a backdrop in this movie as well as in Highlander: Endgame. It's privately owned but is open for a limited number of tours during the year - check the website because they are booked months in advance.

More UK Film Locations Worth Checking Out:

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