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Steeped in history and architectural splendour, the UK is home to a myriad of filming locations dating back to the advent of cinema.
From Big Ben to the Durham Cathedral, Hollywood film crews have flocked to UK locations for years in order to capture the essence of this majestic land on celluloid. There are numerous locations to select from, but the following locations represent the seven most widely used and recognisable spots that appear on the big screen.
Nothing says “welcome to London” more than a shot of Big Ben. The historic clock tower and the surrounding area of Westminster Abbey has been featured in innumerable films through cinematic history. It was blown up in Independence Day, left utterly deserted as zombies took over London in 28 Days Later, and shown as a blur on the screen as James Bond raced past it in The World Is Not Enough.
This 19th century estate in Buckinghamshire has housed some of the most notable names in British nobility, but it has played host to much more notorious characters on the big screen. It was featured in films like Kubricks Eyes Wide Shut, Brazil, and The Mummy Returns, but most recently the Neo-Renaissance manor has acted as Wayne Manor in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.
It seems like the Dover Castle has been used to portray the famous Tower of London more than any other castle in the British countryside. Perhaps this is because the keep of the castle uncannily resembles that of the Tower of London, making it remarkably easy to fool an unsuspecting audience? Regardless of the reasons for its use, the historic Dover Castle in Kent has played host to a laundry list of films. Recently, it has been used in The Other Boleyn Girl, starring Natalie Portman.
This beautifully constructed market with its unique, ornate roof is an iconic London location that has been featured in several films. The restored medieval market in the heart of London’s city centre has most recently been used in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
This historic Norman castle and stately residence is a favourite filming location for both television and film directors. The castle was used to portray Buckingham Palace in King Ralph and The Young Victoria. The expansive kitchens were specifically used in the 1999 rendition of the classic horror film The Haunting, which featured Liam Neeson and Catherine Zeta Jones. More recently, the exterior of the castle was used to portray the summer residence of the Pope in the blockbuster, The Davinci Code.
A visit to Durham Cathedral is like stepping into Hogwarts, the famous school of magic from the Harry Potter series. There may have been many locations used for different scenes of the beloved fictional institution, but the Durham Cathedral is well-known to have hosted most of the more memorable scenes. For instance, the Chapter House was used for Professor McGonagalls classroom and the famous cloisters were transformed into the Hogwarts quadrangle. The site was also used to portray the Palace of Westminster in the film Elizabeth, starring Cate Blanchett.
Dating back to the early 17th century, this magnificent country estate has long, sloping gardens that have been featured in modern day classics and period dramas for years. Although rarely used for the big screen, the estate’s interior is equally grand, consisting of Greek style pillars and lofty vaulted ceilings. Located only four miles from Trafalgar Square, the Kenwood House was recently used in Mansfield Park in 1999 and Peter O’Toole’s Venus in 2007. However, most people will probably recognise the estate from the garden party scene in Notting Hill, starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts.