The magic of the movies has become even more important this past year, with the majority of us spending longer than usual scrolling through the never-ending options on Netflix. Well, the world’s opening up now, so what better way to celebrate than seeing some of your favourite movie locations in person? Here’s a small round-up of some classic movie locations here in the UK that make for a wonderful weekend staycation, and will bring those films to life.
Pride and Prejudice: Lyme Park, Cheshire
It is a truth universally acknowledged that visiting a country manor must be done on a staycation. Whether it’s the elegant Regency-era décor or the perfectly manicured gardens, there’s always something undeniably peaceful about strolling through corridors lined with gilded mirrors or lawns fringed with rose bushes. Lyme Park, an Edwardian manor set on the edge of the Peak District, is the perfect go-to if you find yourself looking for a day out in Cheshire. Fans of Jane Austen might recognise Lyme House as the location of the BBC’s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, and can take pleasure in a jaunt down to the lakeside where that oh-so-famous scene with Colin Firth was filmed. Up at the house itself, take a visit to the wardrobe department, where you’ll be able to dress up in period clothing and slip into your own Austen novel. Looking for somewhere to stay? Shrigley Hall Hotel & Spa, a superb manor in its own right, is a half-hour car ride away and home to a sumptuous spa and championship golf course.
Alice in Wonderland: Antony House, Cornwall
While most people associate Cornwall with beaches, surfing, clotted cream and coastal walks, it’s also a coveted filming location for many directors. From Alfred Hitchcock’s Jamaica Inn to BBC’s Poldark, its dramatic landscapes have provided spectacular cinematography to many movies and shows. In 2010, Antony House in Torpoint was used in Tim Burton’s live-action remake of Alice in Wonderland as the setting for a splendid garden party, right before Alice (Mia Wasikowska) falls down the rabbit hole. The garden of this 18th-century manor – which has been home to the Carrow family for six centuries – is almost like a wonderland itself, with sprawling woodland, an abundance of flowers and bushes, and a sculpture park. Take some tea at the garden café, and try to think of five impossible things before leaving.
Les Misérables: Greenwich, London
In happier times, evenings in London were abuzz with crowds rushing along Shaftesbury Avenue, excitedly on their way to see a West End show. And while things are slowly opening up, the arts industry is still unable to cater to pre-pandemic levels. Instead, let the theatre come alive for you with a trip to Greenwich’s Naval College, the filming location for Tom Hooper’s 2012 epic adaptation of Les Misérables. A musical set at the height of the French Revolution, the college was transformed into the war-torn streets of Paris and saw the likes of Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, and Amanda Seyfried take centre-stage. Since then, Greenwich has been featured in plenty of movies and TV shows, from Marvel’s Thor: A Dark World to Netflix’s The Crown, so there are plenty of hotspots for you to scout while you visit. Greenwich is also a destination in its own right, with a thriving daily food market, the celebrated Cutty Sark sailing ship, and the Royal Observatory, home to Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian. If you’re looking for somewhere chic to stay nearby, then The Collective Canary Wharf is just a handful of stops away on the DLR, and offers up the glitzy restaurants and bars of London’s business quarter.
God’s Own Country: Silsden, Yorkshire
From the wild and misty moors of Wuthering Heights to the wide green pastures featured in the likes of Pride and Prejudice and Emma, England has plenty of picturesque parts to make a stunning backdrop to any movie. However, if you strip away the stately homes, the period clothing and endless blue sky, you’ll see rural England in a whole new light. Enter God’s Own Country, a British romantic drama film directed by Francis Lee. Shot in Silden, the vast landscapes and rolling hills emphasise the struggle and isolation of Yorkshire farmer Johnny (Josh O’Connor) as he comes to terms with his feelings for Romanian migrant Gheorghe (Alec Secăreanu). It’s a raw and touching film through both its story and setting, and you can embrace the unspoilt nature of Yorkshire for yourself with a weekend in the Dales. There’s plenty to see, but taking a moment of respite for yourself and basking in the beauty of nature should be at the top of your list.
Harry Potter series: Oxford University, Oxford
Oxford is already a pretty magical place thanks to its honey-coloured universities, emerald-green lawns and meandering rivers that set the border for the old town. As a beacon of academic excellence for over 900 years, it only makes sense for it to double up as the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter series. While the exterior shots for the castle were filmed at Alnwick Castle, plenty of Oxford’s university buildings were used for interior shots: the Bodley staircase at Christ Church marks the first time Harry Potter met nemesis Draco Malfoy, the Divinity School at Bodleian Library is used as the infirmary, and the courtyard of the New College was where Mad Eye Moody turned Malfoy into a ferret in Goblet of Fire. Many other historic buildings were also used to create Hogwarts, such as Gloucester and Durham cathedrals and Lacock Abbey, which is a true testament to the UK’s architectural heritage.
Notting Hill: Notting Hill, London
A film needing little introduction, Notting Hill has become a feel-good classic which evokes nostalgia for the late 90s – and more importantly, for putting its namesake on the map. Follow in the footsteps of bookseller William Thacker (Hugh Grant) and head to the Travel Book Shop (which has become something of a memorial to the film), before visiting the little blue door on Westbourne Park used as the entrance to his flat. Of course, Notting Hill is famous for much more than the movie: there’s the world-famous carnival each year, which sees hundreds of thousands celebrating Caribbean and Black diasporic cultures. It’s also home to Portobello Market, where stalls sell everything from antiques to organic fruit and vegetables in front of pastel-hued houses. If you’re making a weekend of it, then K West Hotel & Spa is just two tube stops away at Shepherd’s Bush; pamper yourself at the award-winning spa, before dining out at one of the many upmarket restaurants nearby.
Trainspotting: Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland
Irvine Welsh’s cult novel Trainspotting spawned a gritty adaptation by Danny Boyle starring Ewan McGregor in the title role. Although the movie is set in Edinburgh, only the opening scene was filmed there (Mark Renton running through Princes Street), and the rest was shot in Glasgow. The high street has changed dramatically since, but Edinburgh is and always will be full of cultural gems: walk the Royal Mile and visit Edinburgh Castle, admire the artwork hanging up at the Scottish National Gallery, or take a tour of the 16th-century Holyrood Palace (and if you’re feeling particularly lavish, stay at Cheval Residences Strand Apartments at Holyrood). Glasgow is only an hour away on the train, and charms with its Victorian centre, smattering of museums and galleries, but most importantly, its nightlife. Home to a top university, it certainly has a young and vibrant nightlife scene, but you’ll also find plenty of cosy pubs if you’re looking for a quiet pint and a chat with the locals. Many of the haunts featured in Trainspotting are no longer there: Crosslands pub has now turned into a pizzeria named Francos (after the character Francis Begbie), but it’s still possible to share a milkshake in a leather-clad booth at Café D’Jaconelli or stroll around Rouken Glen Park.