No visit to the British Isles is complete without an exploration of some of its magnificent stately homes. Centuries-old mansions and palaces that capture the imagination of travellers and often become the centre piece for period dramas and films, from Batman and Tomb Raider to Downtown Abbey and the Wolfman.
Hatfield House, Hertfordshire
What do Shakespeare, Sherlock and Batman have in common? They’ve all graced the big screen alongside the magnificent Hatfield House.
You might recognize the beautiful 17th-century Jacobean mansion as Wayne Manor in 1989’s Batman and 1992’s Batman Returns, Lara Croft’s mansion in Tomb Raider and the backdrop for the Greenwich fireworks in Shakespeare in Love.
It also appeared in two Oscar-winning and nominated films – The King’s Speech and recently The Favourite, for which Olivia Colman won best actress. Both films follow the lives of royals, and Hatfield has real-life royal connections: it was the childhood home of our Tudor queen, Elizabeth I.
Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
This extravagant stately home has quite a lot to boast about. Not only has it starred in several blockbusters, it’s also a World Heritage Site and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.
The magnificent Baroque architecture, stunning interiors and Capability Brown-landscaped gardens have made Blenheim the perfect setting for movies like 2009’s The Young Victoria and Gulliver’s Travels, where it starred as a Lilliputian castle. It also made appearances in movies including 2015’s Cinderella and Spectre and most recently Transformers: The Last Knight in 2017.
Highclere Castle, Hampshire
We can’t talk about stately homes without mentioning Highclere Castle, which is used as the main filming location for Downton Abbey.
The imposing Victorian castle was always destined to double as Downton, as writer Julian Fellowes had it in mind as he wrote the series and will now star in the full-length movie. The award-winning series isn’t Highclere’s first brush with fame – it also appeared in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut in 1999.
Chatsworth House, Peak District
Chatsworth is one of Britain’s most magnificent stately homes, nestled within 1,000 acres of parkland in the beautiful Derbyshire countryside. It’s believed that Jane Austen actually based her idea of Pemberley House on Chatsworth as she wrote Pride and Prejudice in the nearby town of Bakewell.
In 2005, Jane’s vision was realized as Chatsworth became Mr Darcy’s residence in the film adaptation of the book. The house and gardens have also starred in The Duchess, starring Kiera Knightley, and the 2010 horror film, The Wolfman.