The best film locations to visit in the UK

From The Favourite to Withnail & I, visit the places that brought these iconic films to life

The Griffin pub, next to Griffin Park, the home of my football team, Brentford FC, is a London film location I visit regularly. It was used as the boozer frequented by a bunch of West Ham hooligans (including Frodo Baggins, aka Elijah Wood) in Green Street – one of those films that’s so bad it’s almost high art.

Here’s a brief guide to other buildings in Britain, from the grand to the humble, that you might just recognise from the big screen…

Hatfield House – The Favourite

If you loved The Favourite, featuring Olivia Colman’s Oscar-winning turn as Queen Anne, then you will enjoy a visit to Hatfield House in Hertfordshire. Approximately 85% of the house was used for filming with secret doorways and passages temporarily added to the layout. From May 1 to June 16, the sumptuous costumes worn by Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone and the rest of the cast will go on display in rooms throughout the building. In the Long Gallery visitors will also be able to view the original throne used by Queen Anne at her coronation in 1702. Entry to the exhibition is included in the normal ticket price. The estate, which includes the main Jacobean house and Tudor Old Palace (which was the childhood home of Elizabeth I), has been used for many films over the years, including most recently Paddington 2, All the Money in the World and Wonder Woman. http://www.hatfield-house.co.uk/

Kenwood House – Notting Hill

Not a patch on Four Weddings and a Funeral, but a damn sight better than the monstrosity that is Love Actually, Richard Curtis’s Notting Hill was released in 1999 and, ever since, the smart part of London it’s named after has attracted many a film fan keen to take a closer look at the place, particularly those keen to find the famous blue door where Rhy Ifans appeared to the paparazzi in his Y-fronts. But for a more spectacular bit of rom com-related sightseeing, head to north London, and Kenwood House by Hampstead Heath. This English Heritage property, which was used as the location for the bit in Notting Hill when the Henry James film adaptation is being shot, is home to an excellent art collection, including a Rembrandt self-portrait, and some beautiful gardens. Entry is free.

Stoke Park – Goldfinger

The star of this sprawling five star hotel and spa in Buckinghamshire is its spectacular course that hosts the famous match between Sean Connery’s Bond and Goldfinger (German actor Gert Fröbe in plus fours) in the 007 installment named after the latter. As well as Goldfinger, scenes from Tomorrow Never Dies, starring Pierce Brosnan, were also filmed at Stoke Park. It was also used for Layer Cake (starring future Bond, Daniel Craig) and Bridget Jones’s Diary.

Oxford University & Alnwick Castle – Harry Potter

Across Britain there are plenty of Harry Potter locations to keep wizard fans happy. Take a trip to Oxford to visit a number of the locations featured in the early films, including the Bodleian Libraries’ Divinity School, which was used as Hogwarts Infirmary in Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone and the Christchurch college hall which formed the Hogwarts dining room – a replica of which was built at the Warner Bros studios in London for ease of filming. For another Potter-themed day out, travel to Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, which was also used for various scenes in The Philosopher’s Stone and other films in the franchise: stand in the spot where Harry and co learned to fly broomsticks and play Quidditch, and pass through the grand Lion Arch which doubled as the Hogwarts entrance.

Castle Howard – Brideshead Revisited

The best-known adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited is, of course, the TV version starring Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews, that was broadcast on ITV in 1981. Luckily for this list, a rather underwhelming film version was made in 2008, with the same location Castle Howard, near York, used to represent the fictional Brideshead. It sits amid a huge estate and offers plenty to explore over the course of a day. Brideshead fans will be in heaven, and film buffs will be pleased to learn plenty of the other movies that filmed scenes there, including Lady L, starring David Niven, Sophia Loren and Paul Newman, Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon and that modern classic, Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties.

Sleddale Hall – Withnail & I

Richard E Grant (Credit: Getty)

Not quite as flash as Castle Howard, Sleddale Hall is an old farmhouse tucked away in the Wet Sleddale Valley, near the village of Shap in Cumbria, which doubles as Crow Crag, the cottage where Richard E Grant’s Withnail and Paul McGann’s Marwood head for a less than relaxing weekend away. A Spectator Life guide to doing a Withnail & I weekender explains how fans of the film can “go on holiday by mistake” like their thirsty heroes, seeking out Sleddale Hall along the way – it’s privately own, but easily locatable off the M6 or by foot from Shap, if you want to take a look.

A few more to visit…

Ely Cathedral

The Cambridgeshire Cathedral was transformed into Westminster Abbey for the scene in The King’s Speech in which Colin Firth’s soon-to-be King George VI is taken to practice his address on the night before his coronation.

Pennan’s red phone box

A number of scenes from Local Hero, Bill Alexander’s magnificent early 80s romantic comedy, were filmed in this quiet Aberdeenshire fishing village, with fans particularly keen to get a picture in the all-important red telephone box on the waterside. (No one really needs to know that the one seen on screen was a prop, and this one was only put in following the film’s success).

McDonald’s, Chelsea

Go for a Big Mac and feel a little sad that the building in King’s Road that was once the Chelsea Drugstore, a mall that was name-checked in the Rolling Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want and featured in A Clockwork Orange (when Alex visits his favourite record shop), is now a Maccy Ds.


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