On the Trail of Downton Abbey and Charming Movies Filmed in England and Scotland

March 21, 2014 Reeta Laaksonen

My favorite movie locations on English Countryside

If you travel to England there is no lack of things to see and places to go to – both new and especially historic ones. In my own blog I talk all the time about the castles, country mansions and gardens we like to visit on weekends and one of the key inspirations for visiting a place comes movies we’ve seen: either the actual places where the events to took place, or the filming locations used for the movie.

There are of course hundreds of movies and TV series filmed here, but I am thinking specifically some of very romantic and historic ones – as well as other more fictional and action-filled ones. London, of course, is the scene for so many lovely and inspirational ones from Notting Hill and Sherlock Holmes to James Bond, but I’d like to share a few lovely countryside locations first. All my favorite movies and more can be easily found online, so get your playlist ready, start watching – and planning your trip with some movie trails around charming England and other parts of the United Kingdom.

1. Downton Abbey

– Highclere Castle, West Berkshire, England

Downton Abbey Highclere-Castle

Who hasn’t fallen in love with this old-world romance series – intriguing characters, pretty little outfits and that amazing castle and English countryside! Under two hours drive from London, it is a must-visit location if you are a fan of the series. Combine a stay in one of the luxury stately houses nearby, such as Four Seasons Hampshire or Tylney Hall, enjoy walks in beautiful gardens, the spa treatments and get to know the best of English afternoon teas after you walks. You can almost step back in time and enjoy the yesteryear’s life in Downton Abbey…

TRAVEL TIP: If you want to visit Highclere Castle in 2014 book your tickets now as April and May are already sold out and the Countess of Carnarvon doesn’t open the doors to her home very often!

2. The Other Boleyn Girl

– Knole, Penshurst Place, Dover Castle, Hever Castle, Kent, England

Penshurst Place, Kent, England

To begin with I love this historic film –  and to have it all take place in the beautiful county where we live, Kent, is just a huge bonus. The movie comes alive when you follow this movie trail from Knole Park (which is 5 minutes from our house and one of my all time favourite places) to Penshurst Place and Dover Castle.

These three places were the actual filming locations, although nearby Hever Castle has a lot of historical meaning as Anne Boleyn grew up there and King Henry VIII took over the estate after the death of the family.  Drama, big dresses, feasts and beautiful scenes, all so vibrant and real! To follow this movie trail, print here a beautiful free brochure and start exploring!

TRAVEL TIP: Both Hever Castle and Dover Castle have a few rental cottages if you want to stay in situ.

3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

– Alnwick Castle in Alnwick, Northumberland, few beautiful nature locations in Scotland (for more recent films also the Warner Bros Harry Potter studio tour is quite an experience in Watford, Hertfordshire)

Alnwick Caste

Who hasn’t read at least one Harry Potter book and fallen in love with the castle and that nature scenes in the movies. The first movie made the Alnwick Castle famous, and now you can even join in broom flying lessons at the castle and stay overnight in nearby Hog’s Head Inn. This beautiful location makes you want to abandon the muggle life and sign up for a year in Hogwart’s.

As Alnwick is almost in Scotland, it’s a perfect stop on the way to Scottish Highlands such as Glen Coe and Glenfinnan, which were film locations for subsequent Harry Potter movies. Another Scottish experience worth mentioning would be to board the West Highland Railway – the most beautiful rail journey in UK used in the films for Hogwarts Express scenes. Mystical, green and romantic scenery everywhere…

TRAVEL TIP: In Alnwick Castle you can book for a broom flying session while inside the castle itself, but the Harry Potter studio tours need to be booked in advance and they sell out quickly, especially during school holidays. If your have a sizable budget, you can even rent the studios for your own special Hogwart’s party!

4. James Bond – Skyfall

– Glencoe, Scotland
Scottish Highlands

Fall in love with the Scottish highlands – green moors, little streams trickling through, views stretching to the horizon due to lack of trees. Listen the eerie silence or wind howling. In Skyfall James Bond returns to his childhood home and it’s all so tranquil – until the fighting starts. And of course when in the area what’s more appropriate than a visit to a distillery nearby to sample Bond’s favourite malt drink. If you want to draw more inspiration from agent 007, how about booking a James Bond Tour in Scotland – or a James Bond London bus or walking tour for some more special Bond moments.

 5. Austenland

– West Wycombe Park in Buckinghamshire, England

West Wycombe Park, England

I just watched this movie on a plane. The movie might not be the best plot around, but the West Wycombe Park location is breathtaking (I visited the estate this past summer), the plot is fun in a silly sort of a way and it makes you feel like you’d like to go and visit your own imaginary Austenland where the hair always looks perfect and ladies just take lovely strolls in beautiful frocks, play croquet and have dinner parties with perfect gentlemen in tow.

TRAVEL TIP: Whereas it’s not possible to stay in West WycombePark, England is full of lovely country estate hotels for helping you to create your own Austen moment. West Wycombe Park is a National Trust property so it doesn’t have ticket quotas and it is open between March and August from Sunday to Thursday.

6. Four Weddings and a Funeral

– Surrey, Hampshire, other home counties plus London

Clandon Park, Surrey. England

Who doesn’t love this classic summer film of happy weddings in beautiful locations! Visit some of the country estates, churches and the little village used as filming locations, and stay at the Crown Hotel which was used to film the interior of the Boatman Inn at the movie. Get a feel for English weddings by bringing your fanciest hat and head for a champagne tea and a bit of horse racing and enjoy your quintessentially English day in Four Weddings and a Funeral style.

Finding that Perfect Movie Trail

Oxford, England

If you love historical films, series such as Midsomer Murders, Mr Poirot, or Sherlock, or just plain great entertainment such as Alice in Wonderland, Games of Thrones or Robin Hood,  then this National Trust movie map is a great place to start seeking inspiration for your next journey.  There are also few websites such as IMDb for searching for locations, as well as tour organizer for some of the most famous movies.

So get a cup of tea or a glass of wine and start watching, searching for details and planning your next amazing trip. For me the next movie-inspired location might just be Jane Austen’s Price and Prejudice in Wiltshire for I have already visited a couple of the movie’s other locations here nearby – and to make the visit more enjoyable I am planning to combine it with a stay in a lovely stately manor – and a traditional afternoon tea, of course!

 

 

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Reeta Laaksonen

Reeta Laaksonen and her family are always on the move. For her, home is where her family is - which is currently near London, UK. Reeta has lived in five different countries and by the age three her twins had lived on three continents already. When this family is not planning their next move, you will probably find them hiking, visiting temples, old castles or relaxing on some secluded beach. She thinks that every day is special, with the next adventures waiting right behind the corner. Reeta loves gardening and decorating, and has a passion for good wines. Besides writing she also pours her energy on learning Mandarin Chinese and baking with her children. For more stories about travel, décor, inspiration and global family lifestyle visit Reeta’s blog House of Anaïs and connect with Reeta on Twitter @houseofanais. Check out also House of Anaïs on Pinterest.

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