From Downton Abbey and The Crown to Peaky Blinders and Poldark, here are some must-visit sites for period drama aficionados.
Looking for some inspiration for your next group trip? Here’s a selection of locations and attractions that you may have spotted in some of your favourite TV & film period dramas over the years…
1. Pride & Prejudice, Chatsworth House, Peak District
The 2005 film adaptation of Pride & Prejudice saw Chatsworth House (pictured above) taking the leading role as the iconic Pemberley. It is also believed that Jane Austen may have based her idea of Pemberley on Chatsworth House and written the novel while in the nearby town of Bakewell.
Visitors may recognise the grand staircase and ceiling of the Painted Hall where Lizzie Bennet (Keira Knightley) and the Gardiners start their tour of Pemberley. Meanwhile, the Sculpture Gallery was used in the scene where Lizzie sees the bust of Mr Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen).
Today, Chatsworth House is renowned for the quality of its art collection which spans 4,000 years. Visitors can see works of art from ancient Roman and Egyptian sculpture, and masterpieces by Rembrandt, Reynolds and Veronese, to pieces by modern artists, including Lucian Freud, Edmund de Waal and David Nash.
Currently on display in Chatsworth’s 1,000-acre park is ‘Radical Horizons: The Art of Burning Man’ (until 1st October) which showcases 12 sculptures from the famed festival which takes place in the USA’s Black Rock Desert every year.
2. Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle, Hampshire
With all that drama playing out in such a grandiose setting, it’s no wonder Downton Abbey has become an international TV hit. Highclere Castle in Hampshire (aka Downton Abbey) has been home to the Carnarvon family since 1679 and was designed by Charles Barry, the same architect who constructed the Houses of Parliament and stately homes such as Bowood House and Harewood House.
Groups are welcomed to tour the castle, visit the Egyptian exhibition and explore the surrounding grounds and gardens.
3. Peaky Blinders, Birmingham
The global phenomenon that is Peaky Blinders returned earlier this year for its final series. With its 26 acres of reconstructed shops, pubs and houses, Dudley’s Black Country Living Museum, which recently benefited from a £30m upgrade, is one of Peaky Blinders’ key sets.
Groups can explore the open-air living museum and meet historic characters who demonstrate what it was like to live and work in one of the first industrialised landscapes in Britain. Blue plaques highlight key locations from the series and the museum hosts special ‘Peaky Blinders Nights’ to follow in the footsteps of the show’s biggest stars whilst experiencing the roaring nightlife of the interwar years with live music and entertainment.
4. The Secret Garden, Helmsley Walled Garden, Yorkshire
The 2020 movie adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved children’s classic The Secret Garden captured the imagination of adults and children alike. The film follows orphaned Mary Lennox as she explores her uncle’s mysterious Yorkshire home and discovers the so-called secret garden.
Filming took place around the North York Moors, including Helmsley Walled Garden, the Duncombe Park estate, Rievaulx moor and the North York Moors heritage railway.
Sitting beneath the imposing ruins of Helmsley Castle, the five-acre Helmsley Walled Garden was built in 1759 and has welcomed visitors to explore its vibrant flower displays, glasshouses and apple orchards for the past 25 years.
5. Bridgerton, Royal Crescent, Bath
With its wonderful Georgian architecture, Bath was a natural choice for the filming of the Netflix regency drama series Bridgerton.
The outside of the Featherington household – whose members include Penelope (Nicola Coughlan), Eloise Bridgerton’s best friend – was shot on the iconic Royal Crescent in Bath, lauded as one of the greatest examples of Georgian architecture anywhere in the UK. No.1 Royal Crescent is the name of the crescent’s townhouse museum, which invites visitors to step beyond the famous Palladian façade and see what life was like for the wealthy and their servants in eighteenth-century Bath.
6. The Favourite, Hampton Court Palace, Surrey
Yorgos Lanthimos’s period comedy The Favourite brings to life the story of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) and the power struggle between her two court darlings, Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz) and Abigail Hill (Emma Stone).
Queen Anne spent time at Hampton Court Palace during her reign, and the historic palace in Richmond upon Thames provided several sets for The Favourite during filming in 2017. Key filming locations included Henry VIII’s Kitchens, which date from the Tudor period; the Cartoon Gallery, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, and Fountain Court, the palace’s last great courtyard. Each of these locations are open to the public and included in a general admission ticket.
7. Poldark, Cornwall
Set in 18th-century Cornwall, the BBC’s adaptation of Winston Graham’s much-loved Poldark novels explores family, love, ambition and jealousy, all set against a dramatic backdrop of moors and coastal clifftops.
Many of the Poldark filming locations in Cornwall are places look after by the National Trust, including beaches, headlands and historic mines which helped to bring the series to life.
Fans of the series can visit these National Trust locations including the Botallack Mine in St Just, which provided the stand in for the Poldark family mines of Wheal Leisure; Porthcurno Beach, which featured in a dream sequence in series two, and Chapel Porth in St Agnes, where many of Poldark’s famous gallops along the rugged Cornish clifftops were filmed. Gunwalloe in Helston is well known for its history of shipwrecks, so it’s apt that Poldark’s dramatic wreck scene was filmed here at Church Cove.
8. The Crown, Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire
The no-expense-spared Netflix series The Crown features some of England’s most regal locations, all providing a lavish backdrop for the story of Queen Elizabeth II’s early years.
Proudly stood on a hilltop in the Vale of Belvoir, the interior rooms of the 19th century Belvoir Castle were used to replicate Windsor Castle in The Crown. Highlights of a trip include meandering through the castle’s formal gardens and getting lost in its opulent galleries and rooms as well as taking in a bird’s eye view of the surrounding landscape.
9. Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Sudeley Castle, Cotswolds
The 2008 mini-series Tess of the D’Urbervilles was the BBC’s first-ever adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel and follows the story of Tess Durbeyfield (Gemma Arterton), a low-born country girl whose family find they have noble connections.
Visitors to Sudeley Castle in the Cotswolds, which played host to the BBC series, can walk in the footsteps of some of history’s most notable characters in the castle’s private rooms and its 10 gardens, each with its own unique style and design.
With royal connections spanning 1,000 years, Sudeley Castle has played an important role in the turbulent and changing times of England’s past. Today, Sudeley Castle remains the only private castle in England to have a queen buried within the grounds – Queen Katherine Parr, the last and surviving wife of King Henry VIII – who lived and died in the castle.
10. Gentleman Jack, Halifax, Yorkshire
Set in the 1830s, Gentleman Jack is a BBC drama about the eventful life of lesbian diarist Anne Lister, played by Suranne Jones. Many scenes were shot in Anne Lister’s home Shibden Hall, near to Halifax in Yorkshire.
More than 600 years old, the Grade II listed building is open to the public and offers a journey through the lives of the people who lived and worked here, including Anne Lister. Following on from the recent conclusion of the second series of Gentleman Jack, the Bankfield Museum in Halifax has welcomed a new exhibition (running until 24th December) showcasing many recognisable garments and accessories created by Gentleman Jack’s renowned costume designer Tom Pye.
For more information on these locations, as well as inspiration linked to other TV and film destinations, go to www.visitengland.com