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Famous Film & TV Locations in Britain

by Stuart Haggas
Olly Alexander | Famous Film Locations in Britain

Now that you’ve binged on Bridgerton or rewatched old favorites like Four Weddings and a Funeral, perhaps it’s time to take it to the next level and plan a visit to those fabulous filming locations.

Olly Alexander in It’s A Sin (Photo by: Ben Blackall/HBO Max)

Join us on a tour of famous Film Locations and TV Locations all across Britain. We visit places where The Crown, Harry Potter, and more were filmed

Many of the biggest feature films and television shows from recent years were filmed on location in the United Kingdom, including some with LGBTQ+ characters and narratives. Thanks to the likes of The Crown, Gentleman Jack and It’s A Sin, we can go to a series of dramatically different places without needing to leave the comfort of our sofa.

Now that you’ve binged on Bridgerton or rewatched old favorites like Four Weddings and a Funeral, perhaps it’s time to take it to the next level and plan a visit to those fabulous filming locations.

Having premiered during Christmas 2020, Bridgerton was watched by 82 million households in its first month, ranking #1 in many countries including the United States, UK, Brazil, France, India, and South Africa, becoming Netflix’s biggest original series ever. With its scandals, balls, and raunchy romances, this colorful re-imagination of Regency London was the perfect escape from reality.

Based on the novels by Julia Quinn, season one follows the beautiful debutante Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) as she makes her debut into society. In a bid to appear more desirable to prospective suitors she begins a ‘fake’ romance with the dangerously sexy Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page). Now a question on our lips is, where can we go to indulge first-hand in some Regency-style decadence?

The Bridgerton Family | Famous TV Locations in Britain

The Bridgerton Family
Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

The Bridgerton family’s wisteria-draped mansion is supposedly on Grosvenor Square in the upmarket Mayfair area of central London. This large garden square is flanked by many grand buildings, including the former US embassy (when a new US embassy opened in south London in 2018, the US government sold the old building and it is now being transformed into a luxury 5-star hotel due to open in 2023).

Bridgerton fans need not linger here, because the mansion exterior is in fact Ranger’s House in Greenwich, southeast London. Built in 1722, this grand Georgian villa has an authentic royal pedigree. At the time Bridgerton is set (1813), it was the home of King George III’s sister, Princess Augusta. Today it is run as a museum by English Heritage and houses a world-class art collection including medieval sculptures, ornate jewelry and Renaissance paintings. A noticeable omission is the lack of wisteria (this floral flourish was added digitally in post-production).

One of the many high society balls attended by Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Basset was a spectacular outdoor soiree at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens in south London. A Georgian equivalent of Disneyland, this wondrous pleasure park welcomed the public on summer evenings, draw- ing enormous crowds for attractions and entertainment including fire- works, balloon flights, circus acts, opera, and plenty of dancing and romancing. The 12-acre park was illuminated by thousands of lanterns, in a world without electricity this alone would have been a spectacular sight.

The gardens were frequented by royalty and celebrities as well as everyday folk. Famous diarist Samuel Pepys wrote about visiting Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, and they feature in many historical novels including Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, Thomas Hardy’s The Dynasts, and Charles Dickens’ Sketches by Boz.

Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens also had a dark side. Indeed, the allure of fashionable society tinged with a hint of danger and darkness undoubtedly helped to boost their popularity. As well as being a place where different social classes could mix, the gardens enabled the sexes to mix discreetly without a chaperone. A mere step away from the lantern-lit pathways, the so-called Dark Walk gained a reputation as a place for illicit romance and secret assignations. In Bridgerton, Daphne’s reputation risked being compromised when she inadvertently found herself too close to the Dark Walk. Even more remote corners of the gardens were the domain of pickpockets and prostitutes.

The Making of Harry Potter | Famous Film Locations in Britain

The Hall in the Warner Brothers Studio Tour,
The Making of Harry Potter
Photo: COO7

They were also a place where Regency London’s queer population could have illicit liaisons. At the time, sexual relations between men, including soliciting, was punishable by up to two years in prison, and sodomy was a hanging offence. Court records have helped historians piece together the story of one particular ‘molly’ (period slang for a homosexual man). John Cooper was an unemployed gentleman’s valet who earned money by prostitution. Having accused a man of stealing his fine coat and breeches at knifepoint in a field in west London, the man made the counter-charge that Cooper was a sodomite, and the clothes had been exchanged as payment for anal sex. The case was heard in court in 1732. Amongst the revelations revealed as evidence was that John Coop- er also went by the name of Princess Seraphina, who was known to have attended masquerade balls at the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens dressed in fine ladies gowns so that he may dance with gentlemen. Despite these incriminations, court records show that neither faced any charges.

The Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens finally closed its doors in 1852 after nearly 200 years. Much of the land has since been built on. The park that now goes by the same name is a typical inner-city park. Instead of the decadent pleasures of centuries past, today you’re more likely to see joggers or informal soccer matches.

One of London’s most renowned LGBTQ+ venues the Royal Vauxhall Tavern is located on the park’s edge, with the park itself regularly hosting LGBTQ+ events including UK Black Pride and the annual RVT Gay Sports Day fundraiser for HIV/AIDS charity GMFA. The wider Vauxhall neighborhood has a thriving LGBTQ+ scene including several gay clubs and Above The Stag Theatre, the only full-time professional LGBTQ+ theatre in the UK.

In the hit Netflix show, directly opposite the Bridgerton mansion stands the Featherington family residence. In reality, this is located many miles from London, on the grand Royal Crescent in Bath. This sweeping arca of thirty Grade 1-listed houses is considered one of the UK’s finest examples of Georgian architecture.

Named after its famous Roman-built baths, Bath became popular as a spa town in the Georgian era. This UNESCO World Heritage city was there- fore an ideal filming choice for Bridgerton, with many London-set scenes actually filmed on Bath’s elegant streets. Other filming locations in Bath include the Holburne Museum, which was used as Lady Danbury’s estate.

Shibden Hall | Famous TV Locations in Britain

Shibden Hall
Photo: Calderdale Museums

Following Simon and Daphne’s wedding, the couple move to the fictional Clyvedon Castle, in reality, Castle Howard in North Yorkshire. It isn’t the first time that this grand stately home and surrounding park- land has enjoyed a major screen role. In the 1980s, the acclaimed television adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited was filmed here, starring Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews as two young men of contrasting status and character who meet at Oxford University and become intimate friends (and most likely lovers). The 2008 feature film version starring Matthew Goode and Ben Whishaw was also filmed here. Castle Howard has made numerous other film and TV appearances, including the Stanley Kubrick film Barry Lyndon and a music video by British rock band Arctic Monkeys.

Wilton House near Salisbury in southern England had multiple roles in Bridgerton. Its façade doubled as the Duke of Hastings’ residence, and its opulent interiors popped up in multiple episodes as various settings including the Queen’s throne room and Clyvedon Castle’s dining room. Demonstrating its versatility and film star looks, Wilton House has regularly been featured in films and television series including The Crown, the 2019 adaptation of Emma starring Anya Taylor-Joy, the acclaimed Pride & Prejudice starring Kiera Knightley, and as Lara Croft’s manor house in the 2017 reboot of Tomb Raider starring Alicia Vikander. The house has been the seat of the Earls of Penbroke for over 400 years, and a third of it remains a private residence, but the remainder is open to the public during the summer months.

Another historical drama set in 19th century England, Gentleman Jack is the story of landowner and industrialist Anne Lister. Co- produced by the BBC and HBO, the series is based on historical fact, as recorded in Anne Lister’s personal diaries, which are written largely in secret code and document a lifetime of lesbian relationships.

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