18 January 2013

As Seen on Screen

With awards season now in full swing, it seems only right to celebrate the starring role that our properties have played on screen over the years. From Hollywood movies to TV favourites, how many of our silver screen sensations have you spotted?

The Other Boleyn Girl

Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman play the Boleyn sisters, who competed against one another to win the affections of King Henry VIII.
© Moviestore Collection


Les Misérables (2012), starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway
Wolvesey Castle, Hampshire

Already up for 8 Oscar nominations, the 2012 remake of 'Les Misérables' is undoubtedly the cinema success of the New Year. Although set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, in truth at least some of the filming took place in England - with our very own Wolvesey Castle playing a supporting role in this enthralling adaptation.

Brideshead Revisited (2008), starring Emma Thompson and Ben Wilshaw
Eltham Palace and Gardens, London

This lavish millionaire's mansion seems like an obvious choice for movie makers in search of a little Art Deco glamour - and award winning director Julian Jarrold was no exception. His 2008 film 'Brideshead Revisited' was filmed in part there; the decadent interiors of this south  London property doubling as the cruise liner than brings Charles and Julia back from America to England.

The Other Boleyn Girl (2008), starring Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman
Dover Castle, Kent

Filmed in part at Dover Castle, this atmospheric period drama charts the tumultuous relationship between sisters Mary (Johansson) and Anne Boleyn (Portman) as they compete to win the affections of the King of England. In preparation for Dover's starring role, set builders moved in and transformed the castle into a Tudor-era Tower of London - turning the Great Chamber into Anne's prison bedroom and installing an executioner's block within the courtyard…

Elizabeth (1998), starring Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush
Aydon Castle, Northumberland

Set in beautiful and secluded Northumberland woodland, this 13th century manor house was picked to appear in the 1998 film 'Elizabeth' - a star studded affair that won over 30 awards, including BAFTA's for lead actress Blanchett and supporting actor Rush. During the film, the castle can be spotted in the scene where 'sinister Catholic priest' (played by Daniel Craig) is tortured.

Mrs Brown (1997), starring Dame Judy Dench and Billy Connolly
Osborne House, Isle of Wight

It's perhaps not surprising that the production team behind 1997 drama 'Mrs Brown' should choose to shoot on location at Osborne House. The plot - which focussed on the relationship between Queen Victoria and her Scottish servant, John Brown - was a perfect fit with the royal residence, and a number of exterior shots can be seen in the final cut.

Hamlet (1990), starring Mel Gibson, Glenn Close and Helena Bonham Carter
Dover Castle, Kent

Shakespeare's classic tale of vengeance and tragedy was brought to the big screen in 1990 by acclaimed Italian director Franco Zeffirelli. Filming took place in a number of locations across the UK, but it was our very own 'key to England' that was chosen to portray the Danish Castle of Elsinore.

Dover's Great Tower was used in a number of scenes, and the castle's battlements feature in one of the story's most dramatic moments: when Hamlet speaks with the ghost of his dead father.

Brideshead Revisited

The 2008 big screen adaptation of 'Brideshead Revisited' used the interior of Eltham Palace to convey the glamour of the Art Deco period.
© Moviestore Collection


Glorious 39 (2009), starring Bill Nighy, David Tennant and Christopher Lee
Castle Acre Priory, Norfolk

The opening scenes of this tense physiological thriller were filmed at the extensive ruins of Castle Acre Priory. Starring a host of leading British actors, the film centres on a young woman who uncovers dark secrets about Britain's relationship with Nazi Germany in the lead up to the Second World War.

Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (1991), starring Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman
Old Wardour Castle, Wiltshire

Putting a twist on the traditional tale, this American adventure film follows the trials and tribulations of Robin (Costner) and his Moorish companion (Freeman) as they fight to end the Sherriff of Nottingham's tyrannous rule.

During filming, Old Wardour Castle was used as the Locksley family home, and appears in the scenes in which Robin's father is murdered by the Sherriff's men. The romantic ruins made the perfect backdrop for the medieval adventure story, with its courtyards, stone staircases and grand towers setting an impressive scene.

Mrs Brown

Judy Dench, who played Queen Victoria in the drama 'Mrs Brown' (1997), as she enters the sea at Osborne.
© Moviestore Collection

Science Fiction/Fantasy

Doctor Who (2010), starring Matt Smith
Stonehenge, Wiltshire

It seems only natural that sci-fi smash 'Doctor Who' - an enduring fan hit that was first broadcast in 1963 - should finally team up with one of England's most enigmatic and mysterious sites. In the finale episode of season five, Stonehenge becomes the focal point for a thrilling plot involving a fabled underground prison and the universe's most deadly being…

Merlin (2009 - Present), starring Colin Morgan
Goodrich Castle, Herefordshire

Standing majestically on a wooded hill, it's easy to see why Goodrich Castle was selected as the backdrop for one of the BBC's most popular television series. 'Merlin', which follows the adventures of the young sorcerer, is largely filmed at the castle - just look out for the fine medieval buildings, impressive battlements and picturesque valley views the next time you watch!


Mel Gibson, in character as Hamlet, reclining in front of Dover Castle.
© Moviestore Collection

Special Appearances on TV

Rome Wasn't Built in a Day (2011)
Wroxeter Roman City, Shropshire

In 2011, innovative TV project 'Rome Wasn't Built in a Day' saw Channel 4 film crews descend on Wroxeter Roman City, in an attempt to document the construction of a traditional Roman town house. Filming centred on a team of modern day builders as they mastered ancient methods, and made for compelling viewing (as well as a rather nice addition that still stands on the site today!)

Watch this series using Channel 4's On Demand service.

The Great British Bake Off (2010), with Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood
Audley End House and Gardens, Essex

In the first series of The Great British Bake Off, costumed interpreter and historical food expert Dr Annie Gray was interviewed about Victorian pies. Filming took place at Audley End House and Gardens (where Annie also masquerades as a member of the service staff!), and showed the making of a historical pie, just as it would have been done during the 19th century.

Winter Weekends

Whether you want to discover intriguing tales, find out what life was like in days gone by or simply enjoy a winter walk, adventures await for the whole family this season.

Days out near you

Eltham Palace