Many of the movies we’ve come to love have done so partly because of the locations in which they’ve been filmed.
Here, then, are some of the best of these places, with directions and info on what to do if you visit.
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‘Notting Hill’, the romantic comedy starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, features the real life West London suburb of the same name.
In recent years it’s become a very trendy (and expensive) place to live, but it has real working class roots.
It’s also got a strong connection with the British West Indian (Caribbean) community and hosts the annual Notting Hill Carnival, a celebration of Caribbean music and culture. The Carnival attracts over two and half million people, making it one of the world largest street festivals.
The suburb is also home to the famous Portobello Market, which features in the movie, which is one of the world’s largest antique markets. Over 1000 dealers, selling every type of antique and collectible, have a stall there and is a great place to pick up a bargain.
And finally the area is known for its many excellent cafes and restaurants. Our particular tip is the Churchill Arms on the corner of Kensington Church Street and Campden Street. This slightly eccentric pub – it’s festooned with British flags and Churchill memorabilia – serves the local Fullers beer.
It also, rather surprisingly, serves some of the best Thai food in London (and claims to have been the first Thai restaurant in the capital).
To get to the suburb from central London, take the Central Line on the Underground west until you get to Notting Hill tube station.
Alnwick Castle (Harry Potter)
The Harry Potter films used Britain’s many spectacular locations to great effect (we’ve a gallery of the best in this issue) and no more so than Alnwick Castle.
It’s used (with a bit of computer, well, wizardry) to depict the outside of Hogwarts School, including where Harry had his first broomstick lesson.
Even without this movie connection, it’s a wonderful place to visit.
Built just after the Norman conquest in the 11th century in what is now the Northern English county of Northumberland, the castle guards the strategic crossing of the river Aln. It’s now the seat of the 12th Duke of Northumberland.
Northumberland is a wild and beautiful country on the border with Scotland (the famous Hadrian’s Wall is here too) and the local town of Alnwick would be a good place to explore this wild county.
The castle, and town, are just off the main ‘A1’ road and so easy to reach by car. The nearby town of Alnmouth is on the main London to Edinburgh train route and is a short taxi ride away from the castle.
So the castle is a great place for movie and history lovers. And they also run broomstick flying lessons …
Chatsworth House (Pride & Prejudice)
Chatsworth House in Derbyshire was used in the movie of Jane Austen’s book as Darcy’s home, Pemberly. (The movie, staring Kiera Knightly, shouldn’t be confused with the TV series staring Colin Firth – which used Lyme Park in Cheshire).
It’s one of the finest houses in England, is home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, and has been passed down through 16 generations of the Cavendish family.
It’s just off the M1 (the main north-south motorway) and easy to get to by car – just leave the motorway at Junction 29 and follow the signs. You can also catch the train to Matlock and then take the 217 bus straight to Chatsworth. Buses are also run from Buxton, Chesterfield and, even, Sheffield – check with local bus operators for details.
The House is also the gateway to one of the prettiest upland National Parks: the Peak District.
This slightly lesser well known Park (than, say, the Lake District or Yorkshire Dales) is full of rolling upland fells and pretty stone cottages.
It also has some fine bustling market towns such as Matlock and Bakewell (home to the famous bakewell tart).
Check out the Heights of Abraham – a cable car above Matlock with superb views over the Derwent Valley leading to a Victorian park.
Somerset House (James Bond)
We could have included several London landmarks, but we chose Somerset House which has been used twice.
It doubled as a St Petersburg Square in Goldeneye and as the Ministry of Defence in Tomorrow Never Dies.
The House, just off the Strand in central London, has a long history – the current building was built in 1775 -and is now a major arts and cultural centre.
In particular it’s the location of world famous Courtauld Institute, part of the University of London and one of the most prestigious places to study art in the world.
Recently refurbished, Somerset House is now home to smaller art galleries and, in winter, an ice rink.
Being so central it’s rather an oasis of calm from the hustle and bustle of the city, and well worth a visit.
Carnforth (Brief Encounter)
One of the most popular British Movies is Brief Encounter, directed by David Lean and released in 1945.
It tells of an unconsummated love affair between two married people, played by Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard, with much of the action taking place at train station at which they met.
Their parting – the ultimate sacrifice for duty over love – is one of the most famous scenes in British films.
The movie was filmed, in wartime conditions, at Carnforth train station in Lancashire. It was sufficiently far from any major city to aoid blackout restricions which would have made fimling impossible.
The station was closed in 1970, but has recently been renovated and reopened – including the famous clock which features in the movie. The refreshment room – the site of many of the couple’s meetings – has also been refurbished and put back to how it was in 1945.
It’s therefore a living museum to one of David Lean, and Britain’s, finest films.