Britain aways looks good on film. At least, that’s what Hollywood thinks as studios flock here to film one blockbuster movie after another. From the London Eye to the Scottish Highlands, the UK is bursting with iconic views and stunning vistas to train a lens on. But while we all recognise the Houses of Parliament exploding in V for Vendetta, or the O2 starring in the opening sequence of Bond thriller The World is Not Enough, the UK is also full of film locations you mightn’t have noticed. Here are a few of my favourites…
Notting Hill (1999)
Rosmead Gardens, Notting Hill
I’m sure you’d recognise the garden where William and Anna spent time together in 1999 hit comedy Notting Hill. The private square features twice, when Hugh Grant’s William ‘whoopsie daisy’s over the gate and again as Ronan Keeting sings us out with ‘When You Say Nothing At All’ (what a classic!) at the end of the film.
The actual location used was Rosmead Gardens, between Elgin Crescent and Lansdowne Road in, you guessed it, Notting Hill. As we all know, only residents have access but if you will ‘abide by rules like that’ you can still take a picture of the famous gate the couple jumped over on Rosmead Road.
Image: Colin Wang
Antony House, Cornwall
At the beginning of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, Alice Kingsley walks into the beautiful gardens of Anthony House in Cornwall, before falling down the rabbit hole as she escapes from her engagement party.
The house is now owned by the National Trust, though still lived-in by the Carew Pole family, who have been there since the 16th century. Guests can enjoy afternoon tea, take in the landscape or look around the house.
Open to the public between March and October
Glen Etive, Scotland
When Daniel Craig’s James Bond decides to take the Aston for a spin, driving from London to Scotland in Skyfall, presumably he’s on mission to check out the stunning scenery and wildlife of the Scottish highlands?
Follow the world’s favourite spy by driving route along the River Etive between Oban and Fort William. It’s actually pretty long and quite rightfully called, “the road to nowhere” (it ends in a turning circle) and not, sadly, in Daniel Craig’s hideaway mansion. For white water kayakers, the river is considered to be one of the most challenging routes in Scotland while many climbers and hikers come here.
Puzzlewood, Forest of Dean
Fight a Sith Lord or escape from Snatchers, take your pick on fandoms because this woodland in the Forest of Dean is a popular filming location. Familiar both to Star Wars fans as the backdrop to Kylo Ren and Rey’s battle in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and to Potter aficionados as where Harry, Hermione and Ron are ‘apparated’ to from The Ministry in Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows.
If the combined forces of Voldemort and the Galactic Empire aren’t after you, Puzzlewood is perfect for nature walks, you can rent a cabin out in the woods (personally, not my cup of tea, I wouldn’t survive) and relax.
Strangford Castle Ward Estate, County Down
Remember Winterfell, from the series pilot and season one of Game of Thrones? It’s actually in Northern Ireland, with Castle Ward’s historic farmyard playing backdrop.
The global phenomenon that is Game of Thrones is mainly filmed in the province and you can visit Castle Ward, dress up in a character, try out the archery range and step into the world of Westeros as you walk into the actual locations where they filmed. Pass me one of those ridiculously big, fur coats that the Starks wear?
Stanley Dock, Liverpool
Who knew that Liverpool could double as New York? Stanley Dock is often used in films due to its distinctive 1850s Victorian red-brick buildings and cobbled streets which can pass as a pretty convincing vintage New York. In Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans, turns into the super-soldier Captain America and chases across the docks testing out his new-found abilities. Perhaps they should rename Captain America Captain England?
Englefield House, Berkshire
Used for the filming of X-Men: First Class, The Englefield Estate is depicted as the X-Mansion for mutant students. The Elizabethan country house, home to the Conservative MP Richard Benyon’s family. The gardens are open to the public all year round on particular weekdays and the house can be visited by appointment for group tours. Make Benyon Education Secretary, he literally lives in Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.
Harry Potter: The Philosopher’s Stone (2001)
Number 4 Privet Drive
Number 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey, the iconic hellish childhood home of The Boy Who Lived. Actually located at 12 Picket Post Close, Bracknell (spoiler alert: it isn’t even in Surrey at all but neighbouring Berkshire!). Though also filmed at the Warner Bros. studios in Watford, it was inspired by this neighbourhood and this house, inhabited by muggles.
Harry Potter: Order of the Phoenix (2007)
Claremont Square, Islington
You’ve seen the Platform 9 ¾, in Kings Cross station, you’ve been to the studio in Watford, but have you wondered about seeking Number 12 Grimmauld Place in London? Muggles have sought for the place all around, with buildings 11 and 13 being right next to each other but they can’t see Number 12, unless you look really close. It’s kept hidden by a Fidelius Charm, and only secret-keepers will know… Are you part of the Order? Probably, it’s right there in plain view on Claremont Square.
Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, East Anglia
Who knew an art gallery in the middle of a university campus could double as an Avengers HQ? The Sainsbury Centre at UEA in Norwich has been on the big screen since 2015, going on to appear in Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man Homecoming, as well as the latest of the franchise, Avengers: Infinity War. University students even get to be extras in the movies! Five out of the original six Avengers have all appeared on campus during filming.
Arundel Castle, West Sussex
Remember the elegant castle under German command in Wonder Woman, prior to it being stormed by the eponymous hero? Look beyond the action and admire the structure and it’s interior, which you can do in person down in West Sussex at Arundel Castle, the location used. The medieval castle, restored in the late 1800s, has an enchanting rose garden and is well worth an explore.
Meeting Prince Charming at the ball
Last castle, I promise! Dover Castle resting on the famous white cliffs in Kent premiered as a backdrop in one of the scenes from the movie-adapted musical, Into The Woods. Though we didn’t get to see inside the grand castle in the movie, a proper visit will satisfy your curiosity. Visitors can bring their families to follow the king’s court life as they step into the medieval royal palace in the Great Tower. You can also explore the Secret Wartime Tunnels that goes deep into the iconic cliffs. And bonus fact: it’s the largest castle in all of England, how about that?