Many of our favourite films and television shows have been filmed right here in the UK. And when we take a minute to appreciate the dramatic coastlines, historic castles, rolling countryside, magnificent stately homes, and buzzing cities our country holds – it’s not difficult to understand why.
If you’ve ever dreamt of connecting with television beyond the screen, why not explore some of the famous sets in person? Whether you’re interested in period dramas, action films, or modern sci-fi movies, here are 13 film set locations that you can visit in the UK.
1. The Dark Hedges, Belfast
Game of Thrones (2011) is one of the most successful and popular television series ever produced. The jagged coastlines, impressive castles, and stunning scenery of Northern Ireland provided the perfect filming location for the series’ famous Seven Kingdoms.
Perhaps the most notable of these are The Dark Hedges in Belfast. It was here, for example, that Arya Stark escaped from King’s Landing disguised as a boy in season two.
Other notable sites include Castle Ward, Sallagh Braes, and Inch Abbey. If you’re a true fan and want to see it all, you’ll be pleased to know that you can jump in the car and take yourself on the self-guided Games of Thrones driving tour. This guide offers three different routes, which stop off around some of the best sites of the Seven Kingdoms.
2. Bath, Somerset
Bath is one of the UK’s most beautifully preserved Georgian-style cities. And for that reason, it’s become a prime location for various period dramas, not least the recent series Bridgerton (2020), which has taken audiences by storm.
Some of Bath’s most notable Bridgerton locations include the Royal Crescent. This striking row of 30 houses, shaped like a half-Colloseum, doubles as London’s Grosvenor Square. Also featured are the Bath Assembly Rooms – where main characters Daphne and Simon first lock eyes.
These locations have become so iconic that there’s now a wide variety of specific Bridgerton tours available in the city. For example, this two hour Bath walking tour of Bridgerton filming locations, has five-star reviews. Other tours are also available on the Visit Bath website.
Though, if you’re not into Bridgerton, there’s plenty more to see in Bath. Various other productions have been filmed here including Vanity Fair (2004), Sherlock Holmes (2010), Les Miserables (2012), and The Duchess (2008).
3. Alnwick Castle, Northumberland
Having starred in various films and television productions, Alnwick Castle is no stranger to film crews.
Perhaps most well known is the castle’s role as Downton Abbey’s Brancaster Castle in the 2015 and 2016 Christmas specials, and as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy in some of the Harry Potter films. Though, if you’re based in the south of England, Highclere Castle in Hampshire was used as the set of the fictional Downton Abbey estate itself and is also worth a visit.
Aside from Downtown Abbey and Harry Potter, Alnwick Castle has appeared in many other productions – including Elizabeth (1998), Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), and most recently, Transformers: The Last Knight (2017).
The castle’s website has its own Alnwick Castle on screen page, where you can explore the particular episodes and scenes that the castle appeared in. And, if you decide to visit the castle in person, Alnwick film tours are available, where visitors can explore the various film locations in person.
4. Glen Etive, Scotland
The road of Glen Etive that lies in the heart of the Highlands is arguably Scotland’s most famous and beautiful driving route. 007 fans may recognise Glen Etive from the scene in Skyfall (2012) where Bond tells M that this is where he’s from.
But it wasn’t just the scenery that drew James Bond’s creator Ian Flemming here. While the estate of Glen Etive is now owned by the National Trust of Scotland, it used to belong to Flemming’s family.
If you carry on down the road, you’ll find yourself in Glencoe Valley, which also has a claim to fame. The mountains at the western entrance of Glencoe were used as the background to Professor Hagrid’s hut, the pumpkin patch, and the covered bridge in the Harry Potter films. The area has also appeared in Braveheart (1995) and Rob Roy (1995).
5. Bourne Wood, Surrey
Bourne Wood in Surrey has been the backdrop for various blockbuster films over the years. Perhaps most well-known of these is the 2000 hit film, Gladiator. The film’s famous opening battle scene took place in the woods and the popularity of the entire film itself has increased the popularity of Bourne Wood as a filming location.
Other productions filmed in Bourne Wood include the opening car chase scene of Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Wonder Woman (2017), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009), and Snow White and the Huntsman (2012).
Apparently, the main draw of the woods as a filming location are its close links to film studios in central London and the spacing of the trees, which increases natural light.
6. Botallack, West Cornwall
In comparison with others on this list, Botallack is a relatively new filming location in the UK. But if you’re a fan of BBC television drama Poldark (2015-2019), then you’ll probably recognise it as the site of Ross Poldark’s mine, Wheal Grace.
Located amongst the rugged ‘Tin Coast’ near St Just in Cornwall, Botallack and the surrounding area’s dramatic scenery has become synonymous withPoldark. It’s the perfect example of how finding the right filming location can transform a production.
If you’re a real Poldark fan and wish to extend your tour, you might be interested in ticking off some of the other places in this list of the 10 best Poldark filming locations in Cornwall. Included are the locations of the many epic galloping-on-horseback scenes that feature in the series.
7. Henrhyd Falls, South Wales
The spectacular waterfall hidden in the western edge of Brecon Beacons National Park is the highest waterfall in South Wales. It recently featured on our list of hidden gems to explore across the UK, and for any Batman fans, it’s a must-see.
Scenes of The Dark Knight Rises (2012) were shot here. Most notably, the location was used to film the infamous ‘Batcave’ – Batman’s secret hideout. Henrhyd Falls is also seen in the final film of the Batman trilogy as the location where the Batcave is discovered by Robin after the supposed death of Batman. And if that wasn’t enough, Hendryd Falls is one of the only waterfalls in the UK that you can walk behind.
With the release of the newest Batman film earlier this year, there’s reason for a renewed interest in this stunning filming location.
8. Osborne House, Isle of Wight
Osborne House was commissioned by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1845 and arguably became their most-loved residence. Built in Italianate style after Prince Albert said that the views overlooking the Solent strait reminded him of the Bay of Naples, Osborne House makes for a picturesque filming location.
Rather fittingly, the location’s two most notable films are about the Queen herself – Mrs Brown (1997) and Victoria and Abdul (2017), both starring Judi Dench.
Other notable productions filmed on the Isle of Wight include The Cockfields (2019), Top Gear, and Countryfile.
9. Old Royal Naval College, London
Starring as Buckingham Palace in The Crown and 19th century revolutionary Paris in Les Miserables, the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, London, has been described as the most popular filming location in the world.
Other notable productions filmed at the college include The Iron Lady (2011), Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), Cruella (2021), and The Madness of King George (1994).
To truly immerse yourself, why not book onto the Old Royal Naval College film and TV location tour and see which spots you can recognise yourself?
10. Somerset House, London
The neoclassical architecture of Somerset House has featured in various productions, such as James Bond: Goldeneye (1997), The Duchess (2008), Suffragette (2015), Love Actually (2003), and Mary Poppins Returns (2018).
In fact, Somerset house has been transformed as a double for various locations. For example, it has appeared as Buckingham Palace, a Victorian stately home and palace, and even as an 18th century New York street scene in Sleepy Hollow (1999).
And, in Goldeneye, when 007 is sent to Russia to investigate a supposed terrorist attack, the car chase that ensues across St Petersburg was actually filmed a lot closer to home – right in the heart of London at Somerset House. According to Time Out magazine, the crew imported 40 Russian cars and got them to drive around the square multiple times to film the scene.
11. Lincoln Cathedral, Lincolnshire
Lincoln Cathedral is a Grade I listed landmark and a top filming location. The cathedral has doubled as Westminster Abbey in the Da Vinci Code (2006) and The Young Victoria (2009), and is the backdrop for part of Brad Pitt’s Netflix film, The King (2019).
And, in early 2022, Lincoln Cathedral was transformed into the set for Ridley Scott’s new Napoleon Bonaparte film, featuring Joaquin Phoenix, which is set to release in 2023.
If you want to extend your film-tour while in Lincolnshire, other nearby sites include Burghley House and Cadwell Park where parts of Rush (2013), Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), and season four of The Crown (2020) were filmed.
12. Chatsworth House, Derbyshire
The 35,000 acre estate at Chatsworth is a beautiful location and has featured in a range of films, television programmes, and documentaries.
Most notably perhaps, Chatsworth House was used as Pemberley – the residence of Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice (2005). When we consider the fact that Jane Austen is believed to have based her idea of Pemberley House on Chatsworth, this is quite fitting. The author also wrote the novel when she was in Bakewell (the surrounding area) herself.
As a souvenir of the filming, Chatsworth House has a resin and marble dust sculpture of Mr Darcy, played by Matthew Macfadyen, on display.
Chatsworth House has also appeared in Peaky Blinders (2013), The Duchess (2008), The Wolfman (2010), and Death Comes to Pemberley (2013). You can find out more on the film section of the Chatsworth House website.
13. Hatfield Estate, Hertfordshire
Hatfiled Park has been used as a set for an impressive variety of film and television productions since the late 1960s. According to IMDB, around 70 films and television series have been filmed here.
In addition to the magnificent house, Hatfield Park also covers 42 acres of landscaped gardens – which serve as another brilliant filming lcoation. From The Crown (2020), The King’s Speech (2010), and Batman Begins (2005) to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Enola Holmes (2020), and The Favourite (2018), chances are, you know something that’s been filmed here.
Interestingly, because Hatfield House is privately owned (rather than by the National Trust), crews have permission to do some rearranging of the set. For example, in The Favourite, there are many full shots of Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz in rooms covered in gold-framed portraits and tapestries. Some of these were added by production, while others were original to Hatfield.
Film and television bring to life some of our favourite stories and characters, and help us to escape from real life for a while.
But while we all love the experience of watching through our screens, there’s something magical about visiting the exact location where your favourite productions were filmed in person. And the best part is, some of them are just on our doorstep.