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March 19, 2024

By Guest Author

Discover some of most the incredible places seen on screen and cared for by the National Trust, as revealed in the second edition of the National Trust on Screen book (release date: March 28, 2024).

From The Dirty Dozen at the Ashridge Estate in the 1960s, Mr Darcy diving into the lake at Lyme thirty years ago, to Harry Potter exploring the cloisters at Lacock Abbey and Batman disappearing through a bookcase at Osterley Park and House to the bat cave – the historic houses and wild landscapes that are cared for by the National Trust have inspired directors and cinematic moments for decades.

Now, the conservation charity’s film location managers Harvey Edgington and Lauren Taylor have updated their behind-the-scenes look at some of the most iconic film and TV locations in the second edition of the National Trust on Screen.

Five properties make their debut in this edition: Fenton House and Garden, Penrhyn Castle, Benthall Hall, St Michael’s Mount and Scotney Castle. You’ll also find new entries covering seasons one and two of the costume drama sensation Bridgerton and last year’s Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, as well as Second World War drama Operation Mincemeat and Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon.

Featuring photographs of A-list actors, directors and film crews at work, this fact-filled book is the insider’s guide for film and TV lovers who want to explore the National Trust locations and on set moments that brought to life their favourite scenes on screen.

The book reveals which actors have become National Trust regulars, the most outlandish film requests that the charity could and could not make work, and the logistics involved in hosting an average of nine film and TV drama shoots per month at places cared for by the charity.

Discover how the National Trust – Europe’s biggest conservation charity – works closely with production companies to ensure these designated landscapes and buildings are protected during shoots. And how filming fees help the National Trust to give these places of historic and natural beauty the special care they need, so that they can be enjoyed by everyone, for ever.

National Trust on Screen is available to buy at many National Trust places and the charity’s online shop as well as other popular retailers, from 28 March 2024 at £9.99  

Here are some of the most popular filming locations cared for by the National Trust to inspire your next day out:

1. Lacock Abbey, Fox Talbot Museum and Village, Near Chippenham, Wiltshire

Founded in the early 1200s, Lacock Abbey contains the most complete surviving example of religious cloisters cared for by the National Trust. It was fittingly once the home of William Henry Fox Talbot, the pioneer of photography – who would no doubt approve of the large amount of filming that this location now plays host to. The quintessential English village of Lacock where the abbey is based looks much like it did 300 years ago, with timber-framed cottages lining the four main streets that are almost entirely cared for by the Trust. If you’ve watched any of the most well-loved costume dramas made over last few decades or a Harry Potter film, you’ve already been to Lacock. Also filmed in this historic location was Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018), starring Johnny Depp and Eddie Redmayne, Downton Abbey (2019) the movie and Pride and Prejudice (1995) with Colin Firth as Mr Darcy.

Featured in, among others:

Pride and Prejudice (1995)

Directed by Simon Langton; Starring Colin Firth, Alison Steadman, Jennifer Ehle, Benjamin Whitrow

Lacock was the setting for Lizzie Bennet’s first encounter with Mr Darcy in the iconic BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s well-loved novel. Dirt was put on the ground to create the perfect 19th century location for Meryton, where the Bennet family attend a ball. And Lacock Abbey’s cloisters played a Cambridge college in a flashback to Darcy’s student days. For that famous Mr Darcy (Colin Firth) lake encounter, the filmmakers visited Lyme in Cheshire, which is also cared for by the National Trust.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

Directed by Chris Columbus; Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint

Even anglers on the banks of the rivers were being monitored by telescopes during these Harry Potter shoots, such was the secrecy and security level surrounding the films and the young starring cast. Lacock Abbey appeared as parts of Hogwarts. Along with the cloister walks and courtyard, Lacock’s Chapter House provided the Mirror of Erised room, The Sacristy became Professor Snape’s potions class and The Warming Room, which contains a genuine cauldron, was Professor Quirrell’s Defence-against-the-Dark-Arts classroom. Lacock Village was the backdrop for many of the Harry Potter films, including 20 Church Street as Harry’s childhood home in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)

Directed by David Yates; starring Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Johnny Depp

A feeling of nostalgia was in the air for this return to the world of Potter. The film takes us back to the days when Dumbledore taught at Hogwarts so it was back to into The Sacristy, Chapter House and cloister walks. The cloisters are home to many varieties of bats, so the crew had to take great care with lighting, noise and the owls that formed part of the cast. The National Trust worked with the crew to ensure the bats weren’t disturbed and tracked the movements of the protected species with the help of a special bat ecologist.

Downton Abbey (TV Series: 2010-2015), Downton Abbey (The movie: 2019)

Movie directed by Michael Engler. Starring Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carter

The real Royal Artillery galloped through a 1920s dressed Church Street in Lacock Village for a visit from the King in Downton Abbey the movie. Many residents became flag-waving supporting artists for the film scene. The same street was transformed into a bustling livestock market for series six of Downton Abbey on TV. All the cast were on site for three days of filming, along with pigs, sheep, cows and a one-tonne long horned bull.

Stay at Lacock: 2 High Street, Wiltshire

958334 Lacock Abbey ©National Trust Images Mark Bolton

2. Great Chalfield Manor and Garden, Wiltshire

Popular with Tudor era productions such as The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) and Wolf Hall (2015), this largely unaltered 15th century manor house sits amidst unspoilt Wiltshire countryside. With its Arts and Crafts garden, ponds and adjacent All Saints parish church – it would be difficult to find a more romantic medieval country house in England than Great Chalfield Manor and Garden.

Featured in, among others:

Poldark (2015-2019)

Starring Aidan Turner, John Nettles, Gabriella Wilde, Luke Norris

This huge BBC hit series was filmed mostly in Cornwall where it’s set, but some was shot nearer to the Bristol studios where the production was based. Great Chalfield Manor appeared in series two, three, four and five as Killewarren, home of wealthy Ray Penvenen and his niece Caroline in the 1790s. The show’s location manager David Johnson explained he was looking for a house that implied ‘old money’ and would have been owned by the family for more than 150 years. Careful toad herding was required in series three when trained Japanese toads were brought in for a scene. To protect both species, the National Trust and the Trust’s ecologist worked with the crew to ensure that these non-native toads did not mingle with Great Chalfield’s own non-acting toads, or enter the water.

The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

Directed by Justin Chadwick; Starring Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Eric Bana, Mark Rylance

Great Chalfield Manor played the Boleyn’s country home in this lavish production, starring Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman. The crew spent seven days here, filming what would turn into the first 25 minutes of the film. A wicker arbour brought in by the crew for Mary Boleyn’s wedding celebration remained in situ after filming completed and later appeared – covered in white roses – in an episode of the BBC’s Poldark.

Wolf Hall (2015)

Directed by Peter Kosminsky; Starring Mark Rylance, Damian Lewis, Claire Foy, Jonathan Pryce

In its longest stretch of filming to date, Great Chalfield Manor doubled as Austin Friars for 12 days of solid filming in the six-part BBC drama, Wolf Hall. Much of the building was used as a stand-in for the Augustinian Friary that became Thomas Cromwell’s country home in the 1500s. The crew shot by candle light to achieve the immersive and authentic looking footage, even using candles in fireproof boxes as behind-the-camera lighting. 

151327 Great Chalfield Manor ©National Trust Images Andrew Butler

3. Osterley Park and House, Isleworth, West London

Transformed by influential architect Robert Adam from the 1760s, this Georgian mansion is neo-classical in design with playfully classical interiors. Set on the fringes of West London, the lakes, meadows and vast parkland at Osterley reflect how this part of London was still countryside during that era and an ideal retreat for the wealthy. Now Osterley Park and House is open for visitors to explore. And being ideally situated for London-based production companies, it has seen a number of film shoots since The Grass is Greener, starring Cary Grant in the 1950s. More contemporary shoots include The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Miss Potter (2006), The Crown (TV, 2016-), Vanity Fair (2018) and The Secret Garden (2020).

Featured in, among others:

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Directed by Christopher Nolan; Starring Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway

The decorative interiors of Osterley House became the new Wayne Manor in the final film of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. In an early scene, paintings in the Long Gallery had to be removed or wrapped to give the illusion that Wayne (Christian Bale) had moved in but not yet unpacked. The staircase was used for an emotional speech by Wayne’s butler (Michael Caine), the Entrance Hall is where Catwoman arrives disguised as a maid. And a classic secret door in Osterley’s Library became the entrance to the ‘bat cave’. However, the cave’s exit was actually filmed at Henrhyd Falls in Wales, another place cared for by the National Trust.

1626953 Osterley Park and House ©National Trust Images Hugh Mothersole All rights reserved

4. Ham House and Garden, Richmond, Near London

The 17th century treasure house Ham sits on the banks of the Thames in a leafy and quiet part of South West London. Its proximity to the major film studios at Pinewood, Ealing and Shepperton make this imposing Stuart house of fashion and power both a small and big screen favourite. Its history and grandeur made Ham House and Garden the perfect fit for The Young Victoria (2009) starring Emily Blunt, Never Let Me Go (2010), Anna Karenina (2012) and the new Julian Fellowes TV series Belgravia (2020). It was also a film location for Spice World (1997) – remember when that happened?

Featured in, among others:

Never Let Me Go (2010)

Directed by Mark Romanek; Starring Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, Andrew Garfield

Ham was deliberately transformed into a ‘neglected place’ to become the sinister boarding school Hailsham in the dystopian thriller Never Let Me Go. The National Trust gardeners were asked not to mow the lawns or cut any hedges for three weeks during the summer of 2009, and fake and real bits of greenery and ivy were used to wild-up the gardens for the shoot. Some of the rooms inside the house were too delicate for filming, but the Great Hall, the Duchess’s Bathroom and the wood-panelled Tollemache rooms were all featured.

The Young Victoria (2009)

Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée; Starring Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Miranda Richardson, Mark Strong

Ham House made the perfect stand in for Kensington Palace in this film, being both close to London and remarkably similar in appearance to the original. The film’s opening scenes show a (very) young Victoria playing hopscotch across the Great Hall’s black and white chequerboard floor. The beautifully carved Great Staircase was also used for a scene demonstrating parts of the ‘Kensington System’ – rules that Victoria was raised under which dictated that she couldn’t even walk down stairs without holding her governess’s hand.

1178665 Ham House and Garden ©National Trust Images Arnhel de Serra

5. Basildon Park, Berkshire

What better location for a grand ball than Basildon Park? Sitting elegantly in 162 hectares (400 acres) of historic parkland and gardens, this 18th-century house was purchased by Lord and Lady Iliffe in the 1950s, when it was de-requisitioned after the Second World War.  Designed by architect John Carr and influenced by Robert Adam, the elegant classic interiors of Basildon and its 400 acres of parkland provided the perfect location for social scenes where first impressions count. Lots of dancing took place here for the filming of Pride and Prejudice (2005), starring Keira Knightley, and the 2013 Christmas TV special of Downton Abbey.

Visions Unreel: A cinematic showcase of Basildon Park’s filming history

Throughout 2024 Basildon Park will share its starring role in film and TV with its ‘Basildon on Screen’ showcase. This display will showcase props, set dressing and photographs, highlighting Basildon Park’s role on the small and big screen. From starring as Netherfield Park in Pride and Prejudice (2005), being transformed into the Regency splendour of Bridgerton (2020-) and the gritty underworld of British gangster comedy ‘The Gentlemen’ (2019) to the royal blockbuster ‘The Crown’ (2016-). Plus, many more movies and period dramas will be celebrated including The Duchess (2008), Dorian Gray (2009), Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016) and Belgravia (TV, 2020–). The showcase will also celebrate the 20th anniversary of the filming of the classic Kiera Knightly movie Pride and Prejudice, which was Basildon Park’s most iconic film shoot. Actors such as Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen danced in the dining room, which was transformed into a ball room, amongst other memorable shots.

Featured in, among others:

Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Directed by Joe Wright; Starring Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen, Brenda Blethyn, Donald Sutherland

In one of the biggest filming projects achieved by the National Trust, Basildon Park’s connecting suite of state rooms provided the perfect space for Director Joe Wright’s vision to follow several guests arriving and mingling during the Netherfield Ball. The action was captured in one single take using a steadicam. To protect fragile furniture during filming, ornate mirrors were protected in situ and hidden behind prop walls and a carpet was removed with the help of 20 people and a scissor lift. Actors had all been given etiquette and movement classes and the elaborate formal dances were performed again and again.

Downton Abbey (2010-2015)

Starring Elizabeth McGovern, Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Shirley MacLaine, Lily James

Much of the feature length 2013 Christmas special was shot at Basildon Park when it became the Crawley’s family London home, Grantham House. Nearly all the reception rooms are seen in the episode, including the Entrance Hall, Staircase Hall, Dining Room, Library and Octagon Room. All the main cast were on location. And a gentleman’s card game in the Library required herbal cigars – for the cast’s health and to ensure they left no lingering smell.

Bridgerton: Series two

Based on the best-selling novels by Julia Quinn, Bridgerton from Shondaland follows the trials and tribulations of eight close-knit siblings as they navigate Regency-era London’s competitive marriage market.

Basildon’s Garden Room and the parterre were both used to film an evening party scene. In total it took a week to prepare for filming, as the shoot took place in late October whereas Bridgerton’s action is set during the London ‘season’, which traditionally runs from April to the end of August. The production design team brought in around 5000 artificial flowers to fill the rose garden with ‘summer’ blooms, and also added more greenery and foliage around the back of the house as well.

As it was an evening scene the filming all took place during night shoots from 8pm – 5am. A team of staff and volunteers worked around the clock to get everything set up, and to be on hand during the filming. They were also supported by four specialist project conservators, who helped to make sure that the historic surroundings and collection items were all looked after throughout the filming.

With series three streaming on Netflix later this year, why not tune in and see if you can spot Basildon returning to the spotlight?

1762541 Basildon Park ©National Trust Images Hugh Mothersole

6. Montacute House, Somerset

Amasterpiece of Elizabethan Renaissance architecture and design, with towering walls of glass, glowing ham stone and surrounding garden – Montacute House was built in the late 16th century for Sir Edward Phelips, lawyer and Speaker of the House of Commons. The opulent interiors include the Long Gallery – the longest surviving Elizabethan gallery in England at 52 metres. Though the furnishings can‘t be blamed for the death of Johnny Depp when he played John Wilmot, 2nds Earl of Rochester in The Libertine (2004), or for the nightmares of Damian Lewis as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall (2015) which were both filmed here. This Somerset estate also played host to Sense and Sensibility (1995),and was the inspiration for Tottington Hall in Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit (2005).

Featured in, among others:

Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Directed by Ang Lee; Starring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman

Who can forget Alan Rickman charging down that tree-lined driveway on a great black horse, on a quest to help the gravely ill Marianne Dashwood? Fans can relive the moment at Montacute, where the west drive was used for the famous scene. Alan also popped his head into Montacute’s Orangery when trying to find Marianne, who had committed the serious error of going out in the rain without an umbrella.

Stay at Montacute House; South Lodge, Odcombe Lodge Montacute, Somerset

The upper floors of Montacute House will remain closed for 2024.

1601769 Montacute ©National Trust Images James Dobson

7. Frensham Little Pond, Surrey

Amidst stunning Surrey heathland, Frensham Little Pond was created in the 13th century as a fishing pond for the Bishop of Winchester when King Henry III was on the throne. The pond is home to a variety of wetland plants and rare birds, such as the reed bunting, sedge warbler and great crested grebe. It’s also welcomed a fair few film shoots over the years, including Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) and The Huntsman: Winter’s War (2016), which star Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron. Fees from these shoots helped the National Trust to carry out essential work to protect the banks of the pond from eroding and care for the wider landscape and wildlife.

Featured in, among others:

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) and The Huntsman: Winter’s War (2016)

Starring Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt

It takes a long time to build a whole village over a small lake – specifically two and a half months. The crew then proceeded to burn it down around 20 times over two nights, in order to create one of the film’s biggest battle scenes. Stringent planning and monitoring ensured there was no damage to this Site of Special Scientific Interest, in spite of the ‘fire’ that could be seen as far away as Guildford.

Stay at Frensham Little Pond: Emley Farmhouse, South Downs

1441087 Frensham Little Pond ©National Trust Images John Miller

8. Stowe Gardens, Buckinghamshire

Stowe is a garden lover’s paradise, comprising hundreds of acres of delight and wonder in the form of lakes, follies and sweeping views. Stowe’s Temples are popular with visitors and filmmakers alike. The Temple of Ancient Virtue doubled up as a mausoleum at an Amiens battlefield in the third series of Netflix’s The Crown (2016–). Filmed on one late December day, prop gravestones, flowers and wreaths were added to give it the required look. Ninety-four supporting artists were on site, as well as Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II. In Pierce Brosnan’s third outing as James Bond, The Gothic Temple provides the backdrop for a scene in The World Is Not Enough (1999) in which Bond is joined by M (Judi Dench) and Elektra King (Sophie Marceau).

Featured in, amongst others:

Bridgerton season one (2020–)

Based on the best-selling novels by Julia Quinn, Bridgerton from Shondaland follows the trials and tribulations of eight close-knit siblings as they navigate Regency-era London’s competitive marriage market.

The show wanted to recreate the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, an area of London whose evening parties served as a Georgian version of Tinder. The scenes were pivotal in the first episode, when Regé-Jean Page, playing eligible bachelor number one Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, dances and plots with Daphne Bridgerton, played by Phoebe Dynevor.

The Temple of Venus provided the backdrop for the dancefloor and a spectacular firework display, involving 400 fireworks as well as 30 flambeaux and over a mile of festoon lighting, all of which took the 50-strong prep crew five days to put in place. A staggering 170 supporting artists were required alongside the principal actors and 150 crew; all of whom had to be parked, fed and watered, as well as dressed regally.

1704494 Stowe Gardens ©National Trust Images Richard Martin Scott

9. Tredegar House, Near Newport

There has been a house on this site since medieval times and the present building is regarded as one of the most significant restoration houses in the UK. For 500 years, Tredegar was the ancestral home of one of the greatest Welsh families, the Morgans, later Lords Tredegar. Originally of ‘fair stone’, the oldest parts of the current re-modelled red brick building date back to the late 15th century. A window through time, it is the ideal location for Doctor Who. And is the most used Doctor Who filming location in our care, visited by every Doctor since David Tennant. Staff now treat the production team like old friends.

1536901 Tredegar House ©National Trust Images James Dobson

For more information please contact: Sally Davies, National Trust Press Office,     

About the authors

Harvey Edgington was London’s first full-time film officer having created the role at the London Borough of Greenwich. Harvey set up the NT Filming and Locations Office in 2003, a department he has headed up ever since.

Lauren Taylor has worked in the National Trust’s Filming and Locations Office since 2005, most recently as Filming and Locations Manager. Her first shoot was Pride and Prejudice at Basildon Park, still one of the most complex the Trust has ever hosted.

About the National Trust

About the National Trust 

The National Trust is an independent conservation charity founded in 1895 by three people: Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter and Hardwicke Rawnsley, who saw the importance of the nation’s heritage and open spaces and wanted to preserve them for everyone to enjoy. Today, across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, we continue to look after places so people and nature can thrive.  

We care for more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 780 miles of coastline, 1 million collection items and 500 historic properties, gardens and nature reserves. In 2022/23 we received 24 million visitors to our pay for entry sites. The National Trust is for everyone – we were founded for the benefit of the whole nation, and our 5.7 million members, funders and donors, and tens of thousands of volunteers support our work to care for nature, beauty, history for everyone, for ever.  

For more information, please visit: